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Elms College to Host Regional Leaders at Black Issues Summit on Feb. 28

CHICOPEE — The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Elms College will host its third annual Black Issues Summit in celebration of Black History Month on Friday, Feb. 28 from noon to 4:30 p.m. in the Alumnae Library.

This year’s summit will bring regional leaders and social-justice advocates to Elms College for an important dialogue on this year’s theme of “Housing, Health, and Education: Basic Human Rights.” The summit is open to the general public, the Elms community, and anyone who is interested in issues of social justice, equality, and diversity.

“The purpose of the Black Issues Summit is to provide an opportunity for meaningful dialogue about pertinent issues affecting the black community,” said Harry Dumay, president of Elms College. “We are honored to have Denise Jordan, Savina Martin, Frank Robinson, and Yves Salomon-Fernández as guest speakers this year, in addition to the artwork of Ryan Murray.”

Jordan is currently executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority, the third-largest authority in the Commonwealth. In 2008, she became the city of Springfield’s first African-American chief of staff and was longest-tenured person to ever occupy the seat, serving more than 10 years. She also worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for more than 20 years as a civil rights officer for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. She is also a founding member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Excellence, 5A Football, and the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition. She serves as a trustee for Baystate Health, a board member for Square One, and a member of the Bay Path Advisory Council.

Martin is a minister who has spent three decades advocating on behalf of issues and symptoms related to poverty and homelessness, particularly black homeless veteran and non-veteran women. She is currently one of three state chairs with the Massachusetts Poor People’s Campaign: “A National Call for Moral Revival.” She has served as president of the Boston chapter of Union of the Homeless and as the executive director of the Women’s Institute for New Growth & Support, whose house for homeless women in recovery from substance abuse is named in her honor. In 1988, she was recognized with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award. She is a U.S. Army veteran and a member of the Kairos Center for Religious Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Robinson, vice president of Public Health for Baystate Health, is responsible for helping to bridge healthcare gaps caused by social determinants of health. His innovations aimed at addressing community drivers or structural drivers of health, such as racism, include the Baystate Springfield Educational Partnership and the Baystate Academy Charter Public School. Among his many awards for community work are the city of Springfield’s 2008 Luminary Award, the 2009 Rebecca Lee Award from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the 2010 Lemuel Shattuck Award from the Massachusetts Public Health Assoc., the 2013 Power Couple of the Year Award (won jointly with his wife, Dora Robinson), and the 2014 Annual Human Relations Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice.

Salomon-Fernández is president of Greenfield Community College. She previously served as president of Cumberland County College in New Jersey and interim president of Massachusetts Bay Community College. She has served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and Johns Hopkins University Press, and is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Community Advisory Development Council and a corporator for Greenfield Cooperative Bank. She also serves on the board of Mass Humanities and the Opioids Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region.

Registration will begin at noon, and presentations will begin at 1 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided. Following the summit, attendees are invited to participate in a debriefing session to provide feedback and thoughts on the issues discussed.

The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. Visit www.elms.edu/summit to register. E-mail [email protected] for more information.

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