April is National Volunteer Month, and we’re celebrating Berkeley Lab volunteerism. We’re also spotlighting how the Community Relations team works with Lab groups to build volunteer programs to meet each group’s unique needs. 

When African American Employee Resource Group (AAERG) members wanted to participate in Oakland’s Black Joy Parade, they turned to the Lab’s Community Relations team for help. What followed was an impactful and joyful event that has sparked plans for future collaborations.



Where did the idea of partnering with Community Relations on a volunteer event come from?

Deborah Smith, AAERG co-chair: The AAERG wanted to participate in the Black Joy Parade for Black History Month, and we thought that would be a good event to invite our members and anybody else who wanted to participate. We hadn’t done that event with the Lab before, and someone mentioned that Community Relations was very good at this. When I contacted them, Joselyn [Delgado] and Jenn [Tang] thought that was an excellent idea and that we could partner on it. 

Stacy Curry, my AAERG co-chair, and I want to start participating with other ERGs and expand our networking area. So, I thought that partnering with Community Relations on an event would give us an idea of how to go about doing this. 


Would you consider the Black Joy parade event a success?

Deborah Smith: Oh, my goodness! I considered it a great success. It was my first time attending a parade event with the Lab. I had attended the Black Joy parade in the past. But that was when I was on the different side of the booth. And so I was amazed at all the buzziness we had going around the booth that day with the different science projects we had brought along and the different communications we had with people who came up to the booth to talk to us. We had a lot of people show up at the booth. Somebody was always there inquiring, asking questions, and playing with the banana piano. We had a good time.

Now [the AAERG] wants to participate in Juneteenth events, and we are just starting to discuss that.


From the Community Relations perspective, what was the biggest success of this partnership at this event?

Joselyn Delgado, Senior Community Relations Administrator: I’ll say getting everyone together. We had so many amazing volunteers; a few just showed up to attend the celebration and lend a hand. It’s always a success when people want to show up, even if the slots on the website are already full.

It was nice to talk to each other and get to know each other. I feel like I know Deb a lot more through this event. Our community events help build a lot of camaraderie and partnership with folks who are volunteering that day. It’s an overall great atmosphere to network and share the science that’s going on at the Lab.


What is the Government and Community Relations Office’s biggest benefit of partnerships with Lab ERGs?

Jenn Tang, Director of Community Relations: There are so many benefits. Joselyn and I, we’re two people, and while we can organize things ourselves, the greatest successes that we’ve had have been in partnership with ERGs across the Laboratory. Putting our heads together to think about what makes sense for us to engage in is helpful. Everything from the planning to the execution, when done in partnership with the ERGs, allows us to be exponentially more successful. We can’t do these things without engagement from folks like Deb or the volunteers who sign up. 

Our success is measured in those partnerships. We really appreciate not just the planning aspects but also the thought partnership. Where should the Lab be? How can we reach broader audiences? Where do we need to be in the community? Collaborating with the ERGs helps us meet part of the Government and Community Relations mission and the goals and objectives of the Lab. And we’re having fun while we’re doing it.


Deb, how did your volunteers feel about the event?

Deborah Smith: They all thought it was very good. We had some volunteers I did not know, and I got to meet them through this event. That was really good, having volunteers who didn’t necessarily know us and who were willing to come out and help. They felt like it was a good event to come out to. 

It was a great success. It was a good opportunity for those of us who work together every day to come out from behind our desks, cubicles, and office doors and just have fun doing something that brought us all together cohesively.


You mentioned Juneteenth. What is your vision for that?

Deborah Smith: A really great event looks like us getting out amongst the community and shouting our love for science from the highest rooftops. I want to get out and let people know the Lab, as an organization, cares about the community. We really want to get out and let people know what it is that we’re about. Before I came to work here, all I knew about the Laboratory was the pink dome I saw up on the hill from the freeway. I think the community would find it very interesting that a lot goes on up here that might not affect their lives directly right now, but maybe in 20 years will affect their life greatly. That’s the kind of science we have.


What advice would you give to other ERG leaders who are contemplating work with Community Relations?

Deborah Smith: I would tell them you absolutely must do this. Not only does Community Relations know people they can hook you up with, but they also know how to help. You want your event to go as smoothly as possible. You can then have the most success with your events out in the community. I would highly recommend that Jenn and Joselyn be in on whatever event you’re planning.


Jenn and Joselyn, what advice would you give to ERGs who are considering doing a volunteering event and potentially want to partner with Community Relations?

Joselyn Delgado: Feel free to email us if you’re interested in an event you want to collaborate on. We’re happy to walk you through what something like that would look like. I know it could be overwhelming if you’ve never done anything like this before. Our office does a lot of leg work and can help organize most of the event. 

Jenn Tang: We’re a resource for the ERGs. Please reach out to us! We’ve loved collaborating with the ERGs we’ve worked with and look forward to partnering with other ERGs in the future. Our doors open. 




  • Interested in partnering with the Community Relations Office on a volunteer event? Email joselyn@lbl.gov
  • Check out all the Lab’s volunteer opportunities at service.lbl.gov