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Advancing equity across workforce, education and health

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation convened a roundtable on June 1 at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference to discuss “Advancing Equitable Workplace Strategies for Michigan’s Success.” The roundtable featured public and private sector executives who have demonstrated a commitment to supporting the state’s workforce. Moderated by Candice Fortman, executive director of Outlier Media, the panel included La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of WKKF; Cheryl Bergman, CEO of the Michigan Women’s Commission; and Shana Lewis, vice president of Talent Acquisition and Workforce Development Programs at Trinity Health.

A recent newsletter from WKKF grantee New Mexico State University’s Center for Community Analysis sheds light on the ongoing issue of modern school segregation, particularly in Las Cruces, which continues to fuel systemic inequities and racism. As noted in the newsletter, school catchment zones and the resulting student populations tend to mimic existing neighborhoods, which are segregated by race and socioeconomic class due to a legacy of racist housing policies and income inequality. Students of color and other marginalized students are disproportionately assigned to high-poverty schools that lack the funding and resources to serve them. 

The City of Grand Rapids’ Office of Oversight and Public Accountability will more than double its staff after the city increased its budget and received a grant from WKKF. The office, which monitors the police and fire departments and engages the community on public safety policies, is expanding the staff after a local police officer shot and killed Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop in April. The increased staff will include two full-time justice analysts who will embed equity and elevate resident voices in the city’s public safety departments, programs and policies.   

An article in Forbes about heroic engineers in public health featured WKKF grantee Build Health International (BHI). The piece quotes BHI’s director of oxygen engineering, who was inspired to leave his corporate engineering job after reading about “the incredible work” of BHI founder Jim Ansara in Haiti, along with grantee Partners in Health.

Speaking of Partners in Health, its late co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer, a global health pioneer, received a posthumous award for excellence from the World Health Organization (WHO). According to Le Nouvelliste, Farmer’s wife, Didi Bertrand, gave a vibrant speech in accepting the WHO Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Award for Farmer’s tireless work for health equity. She said, “We owe it to Paul to collectively keep his legacy alive.”

Congratulations to Donna Ladd, a fellow from Class One of WKKF’s Community Leadership Network with the Center for Creative Leadership. She was recently named one of Editor & Publisher Magazine’s 2022 Editors Extraordinaire. Ladd, executive director and co-founder of Mississippi Free Press (MFP), was nominated by a colleague for building an outlet that is “a critical voice in Mississippi for people we don’t hear from enough — and MFP’s presence is resulting in real change and progress for the state’s citizens.”


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