HCIF staff members address diversity, proximity, equity, and justice in the Fall 2023 Proximity Project cohort”

January 19, 2024

This fall, HCIF staff members, Lauren Eckel, Liz Owens and Sehrish Rashid had the pleasure of participating in the Fall 2023 Proximity Project: Healthcare cohort. A unique eight-week virtual cohort experience for leaders in the healthcare industry (health systems, public health, academic medicine, community-based health services, etc.) who want to go deeper in their engagement and partnership with communities of color. As a cohort we laughed, cried, reflected and shared our truths, and plunged deeper into topics of proximity, diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion.

Learn more about our staff’s experiences participating in the Fall 2023 cohort of The Proximity Project below.

“I was fortunate enough to have the chance to go through the Proximity Project Healthcare Cohort this past fall with two of my colleagues. Over eight weeks, our cohort of twenty-four people from about eight different organizations across the country committed to showing up every Friday morning to listen, learn, and share. Facilitated by the Proximity Project team, we were led through a number of learning modules that started off with us getting vulnerable with our cohort members to prepare us for getting proximate and ultimately building empathy and connection. Our learning continued with us unpacking the historical pain and harm that has been done to minority communities in healthcare and led us to taking time to focus on the value, excellence, and knowledge that comes from communities of color. Finally, our learning wrapped up with the cohort reflecting on how we can build inclusive and affirming organizations while also moving to action to get proximate to communities of color. With a specific focus on healthcare, our learning was bolstered with a number of reading assignments in preparation for our meetings, one of which was a book about the Black men who established the first paramedic system in our country in Pittsburgh, PA and changed emergency medicine as we know it titled American Sirens: The Incredible Story of the Black Men Who Became America’s First Paramedics written by Kevin Hazzard. Through the numerous readings, resources, and documentaries, we discussed how white supremacy can show up in organizations and ways to move towards a learning organization. I’m grateful to be a part of an organization that supports and values these actionable continued education opportunities regarding diversity and inclusion and look forward to finding ways to implement my learnings from the Proximity Project in my work and at HCIF.”

  • Liz Owens

“The Proximity Project was a refreshing experience, not only for connecting with many dedicated leaders in health care, but also for being able to hear about their personal journeys and what motivates them to do the work that they do. While feeling humbled by all the information shared throughout the eight weeks of rigorous sessions, I also noticed an urge within me to remain present week after week. The weekly readings, as well as meaningful conversations with fellow participants, allowed me to notice the fine lines between comfort and complacency, critique and skepticism, etc. One thing that, I believe, brought most of us to this cohort was the need of bringing change in the systems and ways we work – this course provided a number of concrete, and practical examples to facilitate that change.”

“During those eight weeks, I cried, laughed, shared stories, and made some friends. Overall, it was a time well-spent, and I felt grateful to be a part of this cohort!”

  • Sehrish Rashid

“It was such an honor to participate in the Fall 2023 Proximity Project: Healthcare Cohort. This experience was truly enlightening. I learned so much about myself, my colleagues and other members of this cohort. I appreciated hearing about participants’ personal experiences and learning more about the history of systemic racism and the presence of white dominant culture in healthcare settings. A few of my biggest takeaways from this cohort include the importance of using your voice and privilege to empower and advocate for others. As well as, the importance of elevating youth voices, who tend to be idealistic, forward-thinking, and often challenge the existing order. I also learned how healing it can be to be vulnerable and reflect on the experiences that have shaped us as a person. I am beyond excited to bring back all the learnings and resources from this cohort to HCIF, and look forward to incorporating them into the work that we do.”

  • Lauren Eckel

The next cohort is kicking off on February 2, 2024 and we hope you consider registering or sharing it with your network! You can learn more at www.theproximitypro.com/healthcare.

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