Croatan Institute Staff Highlight: Liz Umlas

July 26, 2023

What is the most fulfilling part of your work?

My ability to contribute to operational excellence through developing and enhancing policies and processes is one of the most fulfilling parts of my work. Having input to create or amend practices in a way that enhances uniformity has a significant impact on Croatan’s long-term efficiency, cost-effectiveness, scalability, and sustainability. Being a contributor to such important work that yields immediate and long-term measurable outcomes for everyone involved provides an immeasurable level of satisfaction.

What do you wish people knew about Croatan Institute?

I wish more people were aware of the efforts to create a more equitable society through our portfolio of programmatic work. For example, the REEFS Research Pillars takes a multi-pronged approach by focusing on enhancing investor decisions, expanding the BIPOC pipeline, and achieving financial health. Croatan takes this dynamic approach to address numerous systemic issues in a holistic manner that will produce sustainable outcomes to create a more just economy that is inclusive of the needs of historically marginalized communities. 

What is something you’ve learned in the past year that has changed the way you think about the world?

Over the last year, I’ve learned that there is a lot more work to be done to create a world where equity and inclusion prevail. We are living in a time where history is being rewritten for the benefit of those who feel slighted by others having an opportunity to succeed. Equity is not about taking from one group to give to another. Equity is leveling the playing field so that those who have been disenfranchised can have the same opportunity to succeed, thrive, and live a dignified life where they can reach their fullest potential. 

What is your favorite quote, and how has it influenced your life or work?

“If I didn’t define myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Audre Lorde 

This quote has empowered me in both life and work to define myself and establish goals that suit my vision. Others will place you in a box in an attempt to impose limitations on your growth and sphere of influence. When you become proactive in shaping your own narrative for your life, you become the author of your destiny.