The Way Forward

Michael J. Readinger

At the just completed CHHSM Board of Directors meeting, we held a generative session that explored the depth and breadth of the Race, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Assessment we received from the Equius Group. That session, which we called “The Way Forward,” gave the board an opportunity to dissect the report and prioritize action items contained in the proposed recommendations. As I reflect on that generative work, I see the entire time we spent in this virtual board meeting as a dedication to, and a roadmap for, the way forward.

We will strive to incorporate the lessons we have learned in the past 15 months of virtual work into our desire and methodology for meeting in person in the months ahead. Our recently launched webinar series is being populated with robust content from across many disciplines. CHHSM’s commitment to Race, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work will become more tangible in the days ahead as we launch our Reason to Have Hope: A Public Health Response to Racism curriculum to coincide with the celebration of Juneteenth later this month, and as we call our CHHSM & JLCM UCC Fellow at the end of June. The General Synod resolution on racism as a public health crisis that we will present next month grew naturally from our advocacy toolkits presented in the last year. Our existing Affinity Groups will continue to meet, and the Board just committed to creating a Welcoming Affinity Group that will focus on recruiting and retaining diverse work forces, boards, and suppliers.

The way forward has been directed by some of our past activities as well. Last June’s letter in response to the pandemic of systemic racism gave rise to an action plan that the CHHSM Board and Staff has radically embraced in our commitment to create an anti-racist organization. The work has just begun, but we promise to embed this into our culture thoroughly. We will bake this into our very being until we are anti-racist to the core. 

Additionally, the way forward will include a transformation in the way we present the curriculum of the Nollau Leadership Institute and Nollau to You programs. It is imperative that we incorporate leadership development programming that addresses the justice issues of today — and those are primarily related to race, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Those issues cover every aspect of our society — healthcare, housing, poverty, hunger, education, gun violence, reproductive justice, and so many more.

Finally, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and begin to re-engage with our partners — at the UCC national offices in Cleveland, in the wider Church, with the Interfaith Roundtable, the American Society of Association Executives, and our LeadingAge partners — we will raise the issues of Race, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in all that we say and do! It is THE WAY FORWARD at this time and in this place. It is THE WAY FORWARD, and there is no going back!

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CHHSM Board and Staff are grieved to learn of the death of our friend and colleague, Greg Watson, who died in October 2022. Greg was vice president of operations for Embrace Living Communities, based in Oak Brook, Ill.Greg was a graduate of CHHSM’s Nollau Leadership Institute, class of 2018-2019, and was consecrated as a Diakonal Minister during our 2019 Annual Gathering in Chicago. In an article about his class in June 2018 — not long after the group’s first retreat — Greg said, “The best part is not only beginning the process of clarifying your calling; but also, understanding and accepting one’s personal strength. Recognition of one’s ‘true' self enables us to serve from a place of wholeness.”Greg also served on the CHHSM Board of Directors, and was a beloved friend and colleague to many in the CHHSM family. Embrace Living stated on its website, “Greg was an outstanding servant leader for 17 years at Embrace Living Communities. He will be greatly missed.”CHHSM sends its prayers and love to Greg’s friends, family, and Embrace Living colleagues. ... See MoreSee Less
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