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CCSI conference to address diversity, racial equity

Coordinated Care Services Inc. this week will collaborate with the Urban League of Rochester, N.Y. Inc. and Action for a Better Community Inc. on a two-day conference focused on diversity, racial equity and inclusion.

“From Theory to Practice: The Individual, the Organization and the Community. The How is Now” will take place virtually on April 21 and April 22 and will feature special appearances from Seanelle Hawkins, president and CEO of the Urban League; Jerome Underwood, president and CEO of ABC; and Simeon Banister, vice president of community programs at Rochester Area Community Foundation. Hawkins and Underwood will open the events on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, while Banister will offer closing remarks on Thursday.

Kesha Carter
Kesha Carter

“The whole idea behind that is to show that we’re all partners in this work because it’s the community and all of our workforces that benefit the most. We don’t covet that information and we actually come together to make a difference in this work,” said Kesha Carter, CCSI’s chief diversity officer. “So I’m really happy that we’re coming together to partner on all of this.”

The topic on the first day of the conference will look at dismantling structural racism in mental health, with keynote speaker Ruth Shim M.D., the Luke & Grace Kim Professor in Cultural Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. Shim’s presentation will examine key concepts associated with structural racism and provide examples of how it manifests in our mental health care system.

Day two’s keynote speaker is Rochester attorney and vocalist Danielle Ponder, whose topic will address the economic cost of racism. The talk will examine the root of the racial wealth gap and how nonprofit players can move from gatekeepers of the status quo to radical agents of change.

Lenora Reid-Rose
Lenora Reid-Rose

“We recognize the challenges that people of color face daily due to race, equity and inclusion. Every day brings a new headline of an individual or a group subjected to some injustice,” said Lenora Reid-Rose, senior director of strategic initiatives and racial equity for CCSI. “We know at CCSI that in our community people of color face these inequities on a daily basis. We see disparate outcomes across all sectors of our community. We look on inequities in criminal justice, education, housing, employment, healthcare, finance, banking – the list doesn’t stop.”

Workshop topics include “How Individual Work Sets the Stage for Change — People of Color,” “How Individual Work Sets the Stage for Change — White People,” “The Power of Mindfulness in the Work of Racial Justice,” “Readying Your Organization to do the Work,” “Dismantling Racism at the Organizational Level: It Takes All of Us,” as well as two workshops on the community level.

Experts from within CCSI, including Carter, Reid-Rose and others, were involved in the planning and execution of the conference, working in tandem with partners from the community including the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, Rural and Migrant Ministry Inc., Rochester City School District and others who will lead the workshops, Carter noted.

“We’re targeting for-profits, but more so nonprofit partners who operate in the environment who are providing direct services to our population. We’re targeting schools, government, funders,” Reid-Rose said. “There’s something in there for everyone. There’s something for the individual, workshops that are geared toward the white individual and to the individual of color.”

Carter said CCSI examined its own internal systems and our practices related to racism, equity and inclusion prior to coordinating the event.

“I often use the phrase that we don’t want to be professional hypocrites. So we had to turn that lens internally to be able to look at how we’re functioning as an organization as well,” Carter said. “And through that process, we learned a lot through the work that we do and we want to share our journey, as well as continuing to grow with the larger part of the community. We’re really looking to share some of those challenges, as well as the learnings that we’ve had and how we’ve gotten through those. I think it will be an amazing opportunity for so many people.

The virtual event is $100 and registration is at

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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