GRAAHI appoints 17-member advisory council

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Ken James Courtesy GRAAHI

The Grand Rapids African American Health Institute is now aided by a consultative council intent on growing the nonprofit organization in fighting racial and ethnic health care disparities in West Michigan.

CEO Vanessa Greene formed a group of 17 people to GRAAHI’s newly formed advisory council. The diverse group is drawn from all sectors to tackle deeply rooted issues in the local Black and Latinx communities to achieve healthier outcomes, she said.

The advisory council is chaired by Ken James, director of inclusion for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, and Leon Hendrix, communications lead for Spectrum Health.

Leon Hendrix Courtesy GRAAHI

Other advisory council members include:

  • Robyn Afrik, director, Ottawa County Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Teresa Branson, deputy administrative health officer, Kent County Health Department
  • Cassonya Carter, senior academic adviser, Grand Valley State University, Kirkhof College of Nursing
  • Kenyatta Hill, principal of the university preparatory academy, Grand Rapids Public Schools
  • Dr. Peter Knoester, anesthesiologist, Anesthesia Practice Consultants
  • Dr. Lisa Lowery, section chief adolescent/young adult medicine, Spectrum Health and assistant dean of diversity equity and inclusion, MSU College of Human Medicine
  • Tonja Moyer, director of performance improvement, Metro Health-University of Michigan Health, Metro Health Hospital
  • Christine Mwangi, director of fund development, Kent District Library
  • Dr. Bernice Patterson, founder and CEO, Infinity Consultation Group
  • Elisa Perez-Arellano, founder and CEO, Inclusive Empowerment Services
  • Ashley René Lee, vice president of strategic communications, Grand Rapids Community Foundation
  • Kareem Scales, manager of innovation and technology, Greater Grand Rapids NAACP
  • Vernella Shackleford, retiree, state of Michigan Corrections
  • Misti Stanton, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, Mercantile Bank
  • Beca Velazquez-Publes, executive director, Urban Core Collective

The advisory council is targeting the bolder future envisioned by the organization and will provide valuable feedback for GRAAHI’s leadership team and staff, Greene said. The goal is to advance GRAAHI’s mission of dismantling health disparities through community outreach, advocacy, research and education.

Greene, who previously was at Hope College for 16 years in leadership positions focused on fostering diversity and inclusion, joined GRAAHI in November.

GRAAHI’s seven-member executive board is chaired by Paul Doyle, founder and CEO of Inclusive Performance Strategies.

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