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CMRPHA Launches New Training for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Excellence

For Immediate Release: 3/28/2024 3:51 pm

The overarching goal of the 2021-2026 Community Health Improvement Plan is to approach health equity through a racial lens. The Central Massachusetts Regional Public Health Alliance (CMRPHA) is supporting that goal by offering a series of racial equity trainings to municipal officials across the region.

“The Worcester Division of Public Health is committed to advancing health and racial equity and understands the importance of a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. We are equipping Alliance employees with diversity, equity, and inclusion tools to build awareness about race, racism, and conscious and unconscious bias, and to develop a shared understanding of the impact of race and racism on health,” said Soloe Dennis, Director of the Division of Public Health (WDPH) and CMRPHA.

On March 20, 2024, a first cohort of Alliance staff completed a new three-part racial equity training, and a second cohort is slated to begin in April. The sessions are “Racial Equity 101,” which provides an overview of racial equity history, concepts, and vocabulary; “Me, Myself, and I,” which examines identity and socialization; and “That’s Not What I Meant!,” which covers implicit/unconscious bias and microaggressions.

Robert T. Jones, who has partnered with WDPH and the City of Worcester on several racial equity trainings in the past, facilitates the program. Jones is Chief Empowerment Officer at T. Lee Associates, an international education consulting company, and has over 30 years of experience as a consultant, educator, facilitator, and leader on diversity, equity, and inclusion and anti-bias issues.

Jones coordinated the creation of the training program, which is open to all Alliance staff, with former WDPH Shared Services Coordinator Karina Scott. He explained that the training is part of an ongoing effort to build a workplace that delivers services to all Alliance residents in a more just, equitable, and inclusive way.

“Our goal is to create a space where folks can learn, share, and practice in a ‘safe enough,’ environment. This is a journey that is new to some, continuing for others, and will hopefully get everyone on the same page and in the same book as we all try to be our best selves for those we work with and those we serve. This can only be accomplished if we do this work from the bottom up and top down,” said Jones.

WDPH, the lead agency of the CMRPHA, is required to ensure that Alliance staff attend health equity trainings under the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Grant Program. SAPHE is administrated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Local and Regional Health (OLRH), which supports local health departments across the state and promotes shared services as a means of building local public health capacity.

One of OLRH’s key strategic values is to advance racial equity to serve all Massachusetts residents and strengthen populations’ potential to create healthier municipalities throughout the state.

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