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May 3, 2017

Community Dialogues on Race Offered in June

May 3, 2017

NORTHAMPTON and AMHERST – Cooley Dickinson Health Care, the United Way of Hampshire County, and the Jandon Center for Community Engagement at Smith College are addressing the issue of racism, as well as race-related incidents that continue to occur both locally and nationally, by offering a series of community dialogues on race.

Community members who live or work in Hampshire County are invited to attend the either of the sessions.

Sessions are offered Friday, June 2, from 6 – 8 pm and Saturday, June 3, from 10 am to 4 pm, at the Jandon Center for Community Engagement at Smith College, Wright Hall, 5 Chapin Drive, Northampton.

A second session is offered Friday, June 9, from 6 – 8 pm and Saturday, June 10, from 10 am to 4 pm at the Amherst Survival Center, 138 Sunderland Road, Amherst

The community dialogue 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 each 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.

Registration Information
The Community Dialogue is free; lunch will be provided. Attendance is limited to 30 people and participants must attend both Friday evening and Saturday. When registering, people will be asked their name, the organization they represent, if any, and their race/ethnicity. Organizers are asking about race/ethnicity as they have a goal of 50 percent participation from people of color.

To register, call 888-554-4CDH (4234) by Tuesday, May 30. You will receive confirmation you have been selected to attend a session.

Understanding the Need for Community Conversation
The idea for the Community Dialogue on Race project stems from the ongoing work of Cooley Dickinson’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council as well as the results and recommendations of the most recent community health needs assessment, which was commissioned by Cooley Dickinson Health Care.

Cooley Dickinson Health Care sponsors this ongoing series of Community Dialogues in partnership with United Way of Hampshire County. Special thanks to the Amherst Survival Center for hosting the second of four planned community dialogues.

About the Facilitators
Kent Alexander and Jeff Harness will facilitate the November program. Alexander, who developed the idea of the Community Dialogues on Race, will function as the lead facilitator while Harness, Director of Community Health at Cooley Dickinson, will assist.

Kent Alexander, co-moderator of Community Dialogues on Race, Cooley Dickinson Health Care, Northampton, MA 01060.
Co-facilitator Kent Alexander

Kent 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 Cooley Dickinson’s 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, Director of Community and Government Relations, Cooley Dickinson Health Care, Northampton, MA 01060.
Co-facilitator 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.
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