BOSTON, June 10, 2021—The Fenway Health Board of Directors has unanimously approved a strategic plan to guide the work of the organization over the next five years. The strategic plan is centered around a Racial Equity Action Plan that was also unanimously adopted and affirmed by the Board.
“This is an historic moment for Fenway Health. The organization has new leadership, the needs of the people who count on us are shifting, racial equity has assumed a central role in our collective consciousness, the current policy, political, and health care landscape remains unsettled, and the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to us all,” said Fenway Health Board Chair Jonathan Matsui, PhD. “Fenway Health is rising to the occasion, embracing this extraordinary opportunity to transform ourselves into the organization we need to become to deliver on the full promise of our mission now, and tomorrow.”
Fenway Health’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan was co-created and informed by Fenway’s Board of Directors, staff, and an array of community stakeholders and partners, including leadership from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Chief of Health & Human Services for the City of Boston, Lesbians of Color Symposium, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, Multicultural AIDS Coalition, Beth Israel Lahey Health, Simmons School of Social Work, and Community Care Cooperative.
The strategic plan sets forth four key priorities:
- Center racial equity and social justice in Fenway’s operations, care, and services, advancing health equity among those Fenway serves, and pushing to dismantle and redesign systems that deprive BIPOC and other underserved people of the opportunity to be healthy and thrive.
- Expand how Fenway serves local communities effectively while exploring ways to better support LGBTQIA+ communities everywhere.
- Achieve greater impact by aligning and integrating Fenway’s core services in the health center, its public health services, advocacy, research, and education/training programs.
- Ensure financial sustainability and support innovation to enable long-term impact.
The 31-page Racial Equity Action Plan was co-created by a 21-member Race Equity Action Team of individuals from throughout Fenway Health who represent a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability status, and age; tenure in the organization; role in the organization (board, leadership and frontline staff); department, function, and location of work; and emerging and experienced leadership, including staff whose roles do not typically afford them opportunities to have a voice in organizational change.
Gary Bailey, DHL, MSW, ACSW, facilitated group meetings and supported the Race Equity Action Team’s process. Bailey, a widely respected community leader with expertise in organizational development, equity, and group management, is a longtime leader in health equity access. In the early 1990s, as chair of the AIDS Action Committee, he was the only African American to lead a major AIDS service organization in the country.
The Racial Equity Action Plan is designed to ensure that Fenway is addressing equity in all facets of the organization. It consists of eight sections, each containing multiple, measurable goals to track progress at intervals of one year, 2.5 years, and five years:
- Build a diverse Board of Directors committed to antiracism
- Establish a diverse team of senior leaders that advances racial equity
- Equip Fenway Health’s managers and supervisors to lead equitably
- Recruit, hire, retain, and advance a diverse, talented team
- Engage deeply within the communities Fenway serves
- Cultivate a rich learning environment
- Track and leverage data to improve Fenway’s operations and impact
- Foster a culture of belonging
A resolution adopted by the Board of Directors “affirms with humility its commitment to the goals and strategies of the plan. By adopting this plan, Fenway Health acknowledges the ways in which white dominant culture has shaped this organization historically and presently, and commits itself to a transformational process in order to become an antiracist organization and better serve BIPOC communities.”
The 2021-2025 Strategic Plan and Racial Equity Action Plan included the adoption of a new mission statement for Fenway Health and set of core values to guide us in our work. The new mission statement reads:
“Fenway Health advocates for and delivers innovative, equitable, accessible health care, supportive services, and transformative research and education. We center LGBTQIA+ people, BIPOC individuals, and other underserved communities to enable our local, national, and global neighbors to flourish.”
The values are:
- Boldness: We value informed risk-taking and experimentation. We are willing to step outside our comfort zone, to fail and to learn. We stand up for what we believe in.
- Community: We foster connection with one another to strengthen our work. We cultivate brave spaces in which people can come together to connect, be heard, and support one another.
- Compassion: We meet the suffering of others with openness, generosity, understanding, and acceptance, and do all we can to alleviate it.
- Humility: We recognize and accept our strengths and limitations. We are open to new ideas and perspectives. We make space for the voices of others. We are willing to ask for help.
- Innovation: We are driven to identify, develop, and execute novel approaches to tough challenges to drive progress.
- Integrity: We keep the promises we make to ourselves and each other. We are honest, forthright, and transparent. We take responsibility for our actions.
- Justice: We believe every person is entitled to the same rights, access to power and resources, opportunity to live the life of their choosing, and respect.
- Learning: We ask questions to understand, and embrace opportunities to learn, iterate, and improve.
“Taken together, the strategic priorities set forth in the five-year plan – including the Racial Equity Action Plan – establish a powerful platform on which to build our vision for the future we want to make,” said Fenway Health Chief Executive Officer Ellen LaPointe. “Our efforts will implicate the way we design, implement, and evaluate our care models, research, education, advocacy, and services, resulting in better outcomes for the people who count on us, a better environment for the people who want to work with us, and an inspiring call to action for the people who support us.”
“We know that we are only at the beginning of this journey, and our work will be ongoing,” added LaPointe. “This work will require commitment, intention, investment, patience, and resilience. We are committed to becoming an antiracist organization by working to overcome the disparities and inequities that exist in the services we provide, the people we reach, the workplace culture we foster, and the outcomes we achieve. This is the defining work of our time, and essential to our long-term relevance and impact.”