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Mahube-Otwa, Essentia Health to co-sponsor leadership development initiative aimed at promoting diversity, equity and inclusion

The kickoff meeting for the "Building Equity" leadership development group will take place at the end of the month (date to be determined); the deadline to sign up for participation is this Friday, Jan. 7.

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Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership is one of the co-sponsors of the "Building Equity" leadership development training initiative that launches this month in Detroit Lakes. Monthly virtual meetings will be held during the year-long training process. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

In an effort to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the Detroit Lakes community and beyond, Essentia Health and Mahube-Otwa Community Action are teaming up to sponsor a 12-month leadership development initiative.

Led by Victoria McWane-Creek of the Organization 4 Full Participation , the year-long initiative is titled “Building Equity: A Community of Practice," and its goal is to create lasting change by equipping leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to improve racial health equity in their workplaces and communities.

"There are significant (health care) disparities for people of color, and we have a lot of work to do, as an organization and as a community, to improve that," says Karen Pifher, community health manager for Essentia Health's west service region.

Pifher noted that Essentia Health's leadership has taken "a strong stand" when it comes to improving diversity, equity and inclusion within its organization, which is how this initiative came about.


She said that Becker County Energize's community health needs assessment, which is in the process of being finalized, has really brought awareness of existing racial health disparities in the region into sharper focus.

As Essentia began developing its own strategies for improving racial equity, she added, its leadership started to realize that change needed to happen within not just their organization, but the community as a whole. That's where Mahube-OTWA Community Action came into the process.

"In order to improve community health, we can’t ignore the racial health disparity, and we can’t do that work by ourselves," Pifher explained. "One of the really important things that we discussed is that we can't go out and change things until we've done our own personal work — we need to understand what biases we have, both implicitly and explicitly."

It's not just about figuring out what biases exist, she added, but also how those biases inform day-to-day actions, and the impact that has on people within the community.

Throughout the year, participants will start to understand, identify the importance of, and invest in developing racial health equity; the process is based on the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) .

“Over the past six months, we (Essentia Health) have facilitated the IDI and intercultural development planning with more than 60 of our senior leaders,” said Mary Engels, senior director of organizational learning and development at Essentia, who is leading the DE & I effort. “It’s so important when starting the DE&I journey in an organization to begin with creating a strong foundation of self-awareness and self-discovery — that is the beauty of the IDI. Expanding these conversations to include our collaborative partners aligns with this best practice.”

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Victoria McWaine-Creek, the founder of Organization 4 Full Participation, will facilitate a new leadership training group on "Building Equity" which is being co-sponsored by Essentia Health and Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership. (Submitted photo)


Victoria McWane-Creek, the founder of Organization 4 Full Participation, is a 2020 Minnesota Women’s Press Changemaker and performance-improvement specialist, and is a 2021 Facing Race Awards honoree. She holds a master’s degree in instructional design and performance improvement from the University of North Dakota, and has been designing, hosting and facilitating “conversations that matter” for 15 years. McWane-Creek has worked closely with organizations throughout the region.

Anyone interested in registering for “Building Equity: A Community of Practice” can contact Chandler Esslinger, community health specialist at Essentia Health, by phone at 605-254-8893 or by email at .

Victoria McWane-Creek.jpg
Victoria McWaine-Creek, the founder of Organization 4 Full Participation, will facilitate a new leadership training group on "Building Equity" which is being co-sponsored by Essentia Health and Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership. (Submitted photo)

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