By Berly Laycox

On June 18-22, 2018, staff members from across the Camden Coalition participated in Turning Us and Them into We, a diversity and inclusion training held at the Cape Cod Institute.

Deborah Plummer, Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Massachusetts’ Medical School and Memorial Health Care, led the training and shared her expertise as a nationally recognized diversity thought leader who has worked in the field for decades. The training highlighted the current social movements and diversity issues that our nation is facing. Participants learned and practiced strategies for navigating across differences, including how to move from certainty to curiosity, how to use privilege as a life skill, and how to manage unconscious biases.

In 2016, the Camden Coalition added Diversity and Inclusion to its set of core values, and created a staff-led diversity and inclusion working group to identify gaps where the organization could shepherd change internally through policies and externally through our work.

In addition to the working group, the Coalition has allocated funds to make sure best practices in the field of diversity and inclusion become implemented in our daily actions. The funding fosters growth and learning opportunities, which include sending staff members to conferences and trainings to learn from experts and bring back evidence-based practices.

Four staff members attended the five-day session: Program Manager Gladys Antelo-Allen (Field Building and Resources), Research Assistant Cortney Bruno (Publications and Dissemination), Program Manager Audrey Hendricks (Clinical Redesign Initiatives), and Program Assistant Jared Hunter (National and Consumer Engagement). Gladys reported that the interactive activities were a great way to start a dialogue around the complexities of diversity and inclusion.

“As the Camden Coalition continues to explore, learn, and grow in the diversity and inclusion space, it’s important to continue to engage in these complex issues while remaining curious and initiating dialogues that sometimes feel uncomfortable,” said Gladys. “Prioritizing a diversity and inclusion training as an organization sends the message that we value its importance and are continuously engaging experts in this field to help us learn and grow while developing our staff.”

In 2017, Camden Coalition defined what diversity and inclusion meant to our organization: “We honor the inherent value of every individual’s unique story, experience, and perspective. We strive to amplify the voices of our staff, community, and stakeholders and to create a safe and inclusive environment where everyone can contribute one’s authentic self. Acknowledging that inequalities of power, privilege, and prejudice shape our current systems, it is our collective responsibility to address exclusionary and unjust practices through our work and in our workplace. By committing to Diversity and Inclusion, our actions become part of the broader struggle to end disparities in health and healthcare.”

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