December 27, 2016

Cooley Dickinson to Host Conversations about Race

December 27, 2016

For immediate release: Dec. 27, 2016

AMHERST, Mass. – A dialogue about race in our community will be held Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28 and 29, from 10 am to 4 pm, at the Amherst Survival Center, 138 Sunderland Road.

The January discussion is the second in a series called Community Dialogues on Race, which is open to residents of Hampshire County. Registration is required and there is no cost to attend the two-day event.

Community Dialogues on Race will highlight the issue of racism, as well as race-related incidents that continue to occur both locally and nationally. In addition, organizers have identified the following outcomes:
• to move towards solutions rather than continue to express or analyze the problem;
• to reach beyond the usual boundaries, offering opportunities for new, unexpected partnerships; and
• to unite divided communities through a respectful, informed sharing of local racial history and its consequences for different people in today’s society.

Understanding the Need for Community Conversation

The idea for the Community Dialogues on Race initiative stems from the ongoing work of Cooley Dickinson Health Care’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council as well as the results and recommendations of the 2016 community health needs assessment, which was commissioned by Cooley Dickinson Health Care.

Cooley Dickinson is underwriting the cost of the project and the United Way of Hampshire County is a partner in organizing the initiative, which includes four, two-day sessions. Following the November discussion, three additional dialogues will be scheduled in 2017.

Registration Details

To register, call 888-554-4CDH (4234) by Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. Upon registering, you will receive confirmation that you have been selected for this two-day session or that you have been placed on a waiting list for an upcoming session.

About the Facilitators
Kent Alexander

Kent Alexander and Jeff Harness will facilitate the program. Alexander, who developed the idea of the Community Dialogues on Race, will function as the lead facilitator while Jeff Harness, director of Community Health, will assist.

Alexander has worked as a consultant for the NYC-based public school systems, arts groups, and labor unions. After moving to the Pioneer Valley, he was employed for nine years as the director of Diversity and Inclusion at Elms College where he also co-taught cultural competency, as well as at local institutions that include Holyoke Health Center and Springfield Technical Community College. Since retiring in 2015, Alexander has been an active member of the Cooley Dickinson Patient Family Access Committee (PFAC) as well as a member of Cooley Dickinson’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. He also facilitates social justice focused-workshops for various local organizations including Girls’ Inc. of Holyoke, HapHousing, Montague Catholic Social Ministry, and Franklin Regional Council of Governments. He also serves on the advisory board for the local chapter of Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).

Jeff Harness
Jeff Harness

Jeff Harness has a long history working on public health issues in western Massachusetts. Harness has worked with a variety of communities and local residents on public health topics including health access, substance use prevention, tobacco control, food and physical activity. In his current role as director of Community Health, Harness represents Cooley Dickinson on community health projects in the region.


3 thoughts on “Cooley Dickinson to Host Conversations about Race

  1. Can you collaborate to hold one, or the next one of these conversations in the town of Holyoke Mass? As opposed to other towns in the area with smaller minority populations?

    1. HI, Teresita, Thank you for your interest in our community dialogues on race series. If you are interested in attending the Amherst session, please let us know. While we do not have plans to continue the series outside of the Northampton-Amherst area, we are happy to collaborate with other health providers and organizations in the region by offering our approach to the dialogues and what is working well and what we are considering changing. Thanks again! Christina

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