Today Magazine Summer 2021 | Page 11

Embracing Diversity , Equity & Inclusion : MercyTalk Series Returns to GMercyU

By : Meghan Orsino
In the past year , current events and protests have proven that , now more than ever , embracing diversity , equity , and inclusion is necessary to create positive change in our communities and the world as a whole .
In 2020 , Gwynedd Mercy University hired Tatiana Diaz , the University ’ s inaugural Assistant Vice President for Diversity , Equity and Inclusion under the division of Mission Integration . With Tatiana ’ s help and expertise , GMercyU plans to create a more innovative and inclusive culture of excellence as outlined in the Strategic Plan .
“ I ’ m confident the Core Values of the Sisters of Mercy and the mission of the institution will be the guiding principles to the work ahead ,” said Diaz last fall . “ The upcoming months will be key as we plan the road ahead , the how , and who will help us in the thoughtful conversation of what oppression , inequity , and racism are — and how we as a community can contribute to creating a true Mercy community .”
Among the many DEI initiatives that Diaz plans to implement at GMercyU , she revisited and collaborated on a familiar series to the GMercyU community : MercyTalks . First launched in 2016 , GMercyU ’ s MercyTalk series tackles prominent , real-world issues head-on through thoughtful discussions with topical experts , with a focus on the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy : Earth , Immigration , Nonviolence , Anti-Racism , and Women . Collaborating with the School of Business & Education , the Office of Diversity , Equity , & Inclusion put on two MercyTalk events in the spring semester .
The first event , “ Understanding Race and Privilege : Acknowledging History and Empowering Our Community ” was held on March 8 and served as a forum where panelists could discuss and encourage participants to thoughtfully engage in conversation about race and privilege .
The event featured two esteemed panelists : Andrea Campbell , the Director of Diversity , Equity and Inclusion at Germantown Friends School ; and Andre Robert Lee , the Executive Director of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at PointMade Learning . Ms . Campbell and Mr . Lee explored ways that we can initiate difficult conversations about race without fear of saying “ the wrong thing ” or overstepping boundaries .
On April 8 , GMercyU hosted the second
MercyTalk entitled “ Health Equity in the Time of COVID-19 ,” focused on discussing health disparities in certain communities , why they exist , and what steps we can take to achieve health equity .
Sharla Willis , DrPH , MPH , MA , Founding Program Director and Assistant Professor of the Public Health Program at GMercyU , served as the moderator and introduced the two panelists : Nang Tin Maung , PhD , MPH , the Deputy Director for the Coronavirus Science Branch for the California Department of Public Health ; and Nelly Jimenez , CEO of ACLAMO , Accion Comunal Latinoamericana de Montgomery County .
Dr . Willis , Dr . Tin Maung , and Ms . Jimenez explored and explained how and why these health disparities are taking a toll on minority communities . They also shared how everyday citizens can address health equity and create positive change .
The MercyTalks have proved to be informative and engaging , and are just the first step in GMercyU ’ s journey to achieve inclusive excellence for all .