FOCUS - Fall 2009
back to cover Fall 2009
Who’s Around the Table and What Difference Does It Make?
by Helen Shew, MBA
As part of the Fall Roundtable Series: Ethical and Social Justice Issues in Health Care, A’Jamal Rashad Byndon presented a Roundtable entitled "Connecting the Social Justice Threads of the Work We Do TO the Work We Do in the Community". Byndon is a community advocate for the poor and people of color who has dedicated his life to breaking down cultural barriers. Through the “Table Talk” program, Byndon has helped organize informal but structured discussions about race throughout Omaha that have helped overcome fears around the discussion of race, racism, and difference.
Currently Byndon is engaging communities in the discussion around health care and health care reform in public meetings across Omaha. He sees a need to bring new communities and fresh perspectives to these discussions asking this question: “In the course of institutional reflection regarding social justice work, when and how is the notion of giving community members a true voice and a real place at the table addressed?” Byndon asserts that bringing the constituents served by a nonprofit institution into decision-making structures, such as its board of directors and staff positions, has multiple benefits. Organization functions become more closely aligned with the needs of those served - conversely “you cannot provide services to people if you do not know anything about them”.
Byndon suggests that institutions take a look, almost like a traffic survey, at who is coming and going through the administrative doors of a nonprofit: do those individuals reflect the constituency they claim to serve? This heightened awareness is a beginning step and can provide needed impetus for the organization to get out into the community. When institutions engage and reflect the communities they serve, social justice threads are more apt to be securely connected to the work carried out in the name of that organization.
Printable Fall 2009 Focus [PDF]*
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