Senior Fellows Led Initiative Exploring Race and Racism
Submitted by ALF Great Valley Senior Fellows Marian Martino and Wendy Byrd
The murder of George Floyd was a tipping point, raising concerns and questions for many of us. Instinctively, we reached out to each other to express care and condolences, particularly to our Black Senior Fellows. Wendy Byrd (Great Valley – Class I), as President of the Modesto/Stanislaus Chapter of NAACP, was a first point of contact, and thus began the collaboration of a determined group of Senior Fellows with support from the chapter’s Executive Director Wendy Spencer.
Our initial feelings of helplessness and frustration transformed into action and commitment. Using our ALF core values, we listened, shared, researched, read, listened some more, then reached out to our Senior Fellow family to broaden and deepen our understanding. Over four months, we initiated conversations and provided opportunities to gather virtually. Our goal was to hold each other up, hold each other accountable and honor our promise as regional leaders to serve the greater good.
Monthly sessions that included speaker presentations, Q&A and dialogue, addressed “Race, Racism & Prejudice”, “Mass Incarceration”, “A Law Enforcement Perspective”, and “Housing Discrimination.” Each of our panelists provided valuable information and varied perspectives of what systemic racism looks like, while our small group discussions allowed us to share personal stories, feelings and ideas for action, and served to reinforce our commitment to our ALF core values and to each other.
Our final session, “Courage is Contagious” was designed to bring our collective energy together, share best practices and realities, as well as deepen our commitment to a future of inclusivity and equity.