Affinity Processing Groups

During the month of May Unity Point Meriter has joined with Forward Counseling & Consultation to provide Affinity Groups for employees who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community and/or Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities.

What are Affinity Groups? 

They are a “home base” environment which provides a supportive space to foster connections and join people who may share aspects of their identity, especially in situations in which aspects of their identity are underrepresented and/or are marginalized.  The groups will serve as a visible, accessible resource and processing space for self-identified employees focused on creating community and sense of belonging, empowerment and building a strong network and supportive space to be their authentic self.    

The May groups are to help address and support needs, similar to other Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), though there is no association to current EAP programs, Meriter staff and/or associated work obligation or expectation.  

What is the objective of the group?  

To embrace a culture of inclusion, build awareness and appreciation for diversity, create a supportive space to foster a sense of belonging, community and overall empowerment to share similar experiences and foster discussion of identity-specific issues and advance greater equity by achieving the above.  

Is there an intake process? 

There are no intake, cost, or limit on the number of groups you can attend.  Meetings are attended during your personal time.  The space is created for you to be able to show up as your authentic self, build a supportive community, process and share your experience.  

How do I attend?

Groups will be held for one hour sessions, two times per week for a total of 4 weeks via Zoom.  The meeting link along with specific dates and time of groups is provided under Meet Your Diversity & Inclusivity Facilitators section (see below).  If you have additional questions about access to groups, structure or times please email individual facilitators for additional assistance.  

What is the structure and content of the groups?

The group format will start with introductions, creating safety and holding space guidelines, short reading(s) related to specific community with a focus on creating space to process experiences and share resources.  The group is meant to build a community and supportive space for all participants to share, feel empowered and receive support.  There is flexibility in the set up of this space, which allows participants and facilitators of their community to join together in create a safe, nurturing and open space.

Meet Your Diversity & Inclusivity Facilitators

Marco Torrez-Miranda, LGBTQIA+ Diversity & Inclusivity Facilitator, MSW, LCSW, SUD

Marco (he/him/el) is a licensed psychotherapist and substance use disorder specialist in the state of Wisconsin. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Marco’s experience has centered around being and working with minoritized individuals and communities. He has developed interventions and programming to increase access, engagement and healing from racialized trauma. He is an immigrant from Bolivia and identifies as a queer, indigenous, Latinx, brown, male.

Message from Marco: Throughout my over 15 years of experience as a practitioner I have developed the skill-set to establish, nurture, and maintain spaces where individuals can feel free to be their authentic selves. Whether working 1-1 or with larger cohorts, these spaces begin by eliciting those present to share what they need from myself and each other in order to allow themselves to be fully present and engage in our time together. Using this approach, each interaction is tailored to what they need in that moment, acknowledging this may be a dynamic process. I recognize and encourage bringing attention to and the sharing of our multi-dimensional identities to gain perspective and learn more deeply about our experiences as bodies of culture. In my experience, being fully present with others requires a high degree of self-awareness, empathy, and emotional intelligence – qualities that guide my approach in nurturing belonging with and amongst others.

Join Marco Torrez-Miranda for 4 weeks of LGBTQIA+ Affinity Groups on Tuesday from 9-10 am and Thursday from 6-7 pm.

Tuesday, May 4,  2021 9-10:00 AM
Tuesday, May 11, 2021 9-10:00 AM
Tuesday, May 18, 2021 9-10:00 AM
Tuesday, May 25, 2021 9-10:00 AM

Zoom Link:

Thursday, May 6,  2021 6-7:00 pm
Thursday, May 13, 2021 6-7:00 pm
Thursday, May 20, 2021 6-7:00 pm
Thursday, May 27, 2021 6-7:00 pm

Zoom Link:

Kayla Eggen, BIPOC Diversity & Inclusivity Facilitator, MSW, LCSW, SUD

Kayla (she/hers) is driven passionate, and knowledgeable psychotherapist. Dedicated to providing culturally responsive, trauma sensitive, and recovery-orientated services with over 7 years of experience. Experience working with diverse clients with intersecting identities as it relates to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and sexuality. Extensive experience providing culturally response services to African Descent individuals in a culturally responsive treatment program.

Message from Kayla: My focus of the BIPOC affinity group will create be to create a healing space that is dedicated to the BIPOC community and their personal/unique experiences as individuals and ways in which they navigate the world. Participants are encouraged to show up and be their most authentic self in a space that is intended to support, encourage, empower, and increase connection and visibility. While connecting in this space the hope is to decrease isolation and to create a sense of community and solidarity where folx can be vulnerable, share resources, and learn/support one another. While honoring experiences of the BIPOC community I will create a space that is inclusive of all intersecting identities of BIPOC that also add more layers to their unique lived experiences that are important to acknowledge and also hold space.

Join Kayla Eggen for 4 weeks of BIPOC Affinity Groups on Wednesday from 6-7 pm and Thursday from 8-9 pm.    

Wednesday, May 5,  6-7:00 pm
Wednesday, May 12, 6-7:00 pm
Wednesday, May 19, 6-7:00 pm
Wednesday, May 26, 6-7:00 pm

Zoom Link:

Thursday, May 6,  8-9:00 pm
Thursday, May 13, 8-9:00 pm
Thursday, May 20, 8-9:00 pm
Thursday, May 27, 8-9:00 pm

Zoom Link: