As I reflect on my first two months at the Meyer Foundation, I am overcome with immense gratitude; gratitude because, as vice president for program and community, I have the opportunity to lead talented and dedicated colleagues into advancing a critical vision for the Washington, DC region. This vision calls for a just, connected, and inclusive Greater Washington community in which systemic racism and its consequences no longer exist.
Under the leadership of our president, Nicky Goren, we made the decision to redirect our resources toward dismantling racism and focusing on changing systems that perpetuate the racialized disparities that manifest in housing, education, employment, and wealth accumulation. This work not only builds on the 75-year legacy of the Foundation’s founders, it also holds personal significance for me.
I am the child of Jamaican immigrants who ventured to this country in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their yet-to-be-born children. Minimally educated, they worked 2-3 jobs to pave the way for my sister and me to prosper and have a better life – easier than their lives – made possible by advanced education and greater opportunities. They pursued their vision with unrelenting vigor and faith as they served as change agents in their own way; my father as a union leader and my mother an organizer of Jamaican immigrants. I am beholden to my parents’ vision to break down the barriers that derail the success of brown and black communities in this region. As an adult, I’ve made it my life’s work to continue their pursuit of racial equity by disrupting the systems and structures that define our society and produce racialized inequities.
While my experience includes developing and executing substantial portfolios in population health and social policy in the governmental and non-profit sectors, for 12 years my work at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation focused on changing systems in the social and environmental structures that impede or facilitate educational achievement and well-being. We secured resources and advocated for policies that assured the availability and access to quality education, housing, health services, food, and community environments that support the well-being and prosperity of all communities, with an emphasis on those where the data indicated unacceptable disparities. In my time at Meyer so far, I’ve observed many organizations with a strong desire to do the same. I also have incredible colleagues here who are fully committed to doing this tough work.
This is such a pivotal time in our country and in the evolution of the Foundation. We have taken several steps along the road toward advancing equity. It is a road less traveled with lots of curves, hills, and occasional potholes, but it leads to the transformation we intend to achieve in this region – and with our thought partners and grantee partners, we are in good company. We have marshalled our resources and strategies including capacity building, collective action, convening, advocacy, and grantmaking to fuel the cSet featured imagehange we hope to see.
I am honored to serve as an agent of change with Meyer, and I’m ready to lock arms with those who are eager and ready to embark on this journey to advance equity. I look forward to meeting the champions and partners in this work throughout our region, and pledge my commitment to work alongside them to create a Greater Washington where all can thrive and live a full and equitable life.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.