Supporting Leaders Toward Racial Equity

In response to the heightened awareness of racial inequities locally and throughout our nation in 2020, Leadership Akron brought together leaders for a series titled Supporting Leaders Toward Racial Equity. The purpose of the series is to capitalize on this heightened awareness to educate leaders and provide support and guidance for them to create positive change within their spheres of influence. Three sessions have already occurred, and we are putting together a concluding session.

Session #1 - July 9, 2020The initial session set the stage by grounding the group in the ways black lives are impacted by racial inequities. It was kicked off by board members Judi CH Hill, President, Akron NAACP and Dr. Brian Harte, President, Cleveland Clinic Akron General, and was facilitated by Andre Lessears, Director of Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Cleveland Clinic Akron General. Small breakout groups, each with a moderator, created a safe space for leaders to explore where they were personally and emotionally. This provided an opportunity for participants to be honest with themselves and others and to express their emotions, laying the groundwork for future sessions.

Session #2 - July 16, 2020 - The second session was a panel on Racism as a Public Health Crisis. The session was moderated by Aimee Wade, Associate Director of Clinical Services, ADM Board. The panel included Tamiyka Rose, Health Equity Ambassador, City of Akron; Donna Skoda, Summit County Public Health Commissioner; N. J. Akbar, Ph. D., Vice President, Akron School Board; and Dawn Glenny, President & CEO, Greenleaf Family Center.

Session #3 - July 30, 2020 - The third session focused on the Criminal Justice System. The session was introduced by LA board member, Donald Rice, Director of Human Resources for the City of Akron. Speakers included Bishop Joey Johnson, Senior Pastor at The House of the Lord; Brant Lee, Professor of Law, University of Akron; and Lt. Mike Miller, Akron Police Department. View (cut) video here.

We are happy that so many alumni members and guests were able to join us for Session #4 on October 29 to hear from "the experts" on specific actions you can take for yourself or your organization.

Bios of "the experts"

Ideas for Immediate To-Dos For Leaders:

  1. Support local African American organizations such as Urban League, Project Ujima, NAACP, etc.
  2. Create a monthly meeting, activity, experience with someone of a different race for an understanding. For crucial conversations, we have to seek understanding first.
  3. Evaluate your systems and ask a minority employee to highlight any level of systemic “glitches” in your policies.

What our participants say:

"These conversations are powerful and critical for change."

"Thanks for great program!!"

"Many people are talking about systemic change, but no one seems to know where to start."

Emotions expressed during Session #1