Webinar Recap: Creating Shared Power Through Community Collaboration

By: Ruchi Patel, Northwestern’s Applied Practice Experience Intern for Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH)


All In Data for Community Health hosted a showcase webinar, Building Community Capacity by Sharing Power, Storytelling, & Systems Change, on April 21st, 2021. The recorded session, resource guide, and PowerPoint presentation slides accompanying the webinar can be found on the All In website

This summary provides 4 takeaways on racial health equity, focusing on the barriers Black mothers face regarding maternal and infant health outcomes and how two organizations have created spaces for Black women’s voices to be heard and drive changes within institutions. This discussion was initiated by Dr. Meredith Shockley-Smith, the Director of Equity and Community Strategies at Cradle Cincinnati, Queens Village, and Brittney Mosley, the Community Health Director at the Mississippi State Department of Health. This webinar was moderated by Ninma Fearson, senior associate for the Health Impact Project at The Pew Charitable Trusts, an All In partner.

The topic of this webinar was how increasing community capacity could catalyze health equity. Dr. Shockley-Smith and Brittney Mosley shared their insights into how their work leads to the engagement of Black women and holding institutions and systems accountable to reduce racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. Some of the primary goals among each organization included reducing racism and racial disparities associated with infant and maternal mortality rates; and creating sustainable system changes within multi-sector groups. 

  1. Establishing collaborations among multi-sector groups enabled Shockley-Smith and Mosley to work with allies to break institutional and systemic barriers creating equitable opportunities for Black women. Black women are not being heard by their physicians and society when it comes to their own health. Birth outcomes for Black women are drastically different compared to White women, as they are not receiving emotional support before and after pregnancy. As a result, they needed external partners such as the department of transportation, the department of education, the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, and the Mississippi Public Health Institute to be involved in change.

The Mississippi State Department of Health also involved the following organizations as part of their home team for partnerships:

  • the Meridian Freedom Project as a community liaison, 
  • United Way
  • Mississippi State University
  • EC Health Net
  • food pantries
  • faith-based organizations
  • WIC centers      

    “Because of that … strong Black women’s mentality, ‘oh it can’t be that bad”, complaining or ‘you’re stronger than you think’ that kind of concept really impacts outcomes of birth. We get at having to make the value of women, the voices of Black women, be important to everyone including medical professionals, but also to society at large. I want to walk around in a Black body and be valued.” –Dr. Meredith Shockley-Smith 

      2. Both speakers discussed the importance of capacity building as racism, and explicit bias commonly occurs in the health workforce. By sitting together and discussing, women can openly share their issues and create a vision for this movement with the Queens Village Board. This is what centering Black women looks like, as they express their needs for their own health. Bringing together community members with other stakeholders to share concerns, skills, and knowledge can empower communities to create sustainable goals in different ecological levels of health.

      3. By increasing shared power towards communities, more funding or infrastructure can be provided directly to these causes, reducing maternal and infant mortality rates. Funders came to the Queens Village board and asked how they would like to see the money being spent. By opening up possibilities to the community, they can achieve increased levels of health initiatives as they are the individuals who know the health status of the community members and can prioritize funds as they see fit. 

“At this table there are queens, so there are community members who are on boards. There are queens who are not board members and there are staff members on the Queen’s Village board who are taking notes about conversations about what the movement should look like. That’s what we mean when we say ‘centering Black women’.”- Dr. Meredith Shockley-Smith

4. Another key takeaway is the value of advisory boards, which provide support and guidance to community stakeholders. The community advisory board outreached to Black women to better understand their needs and barriers to identify the root causes of infant and maternal disparities. Dr. Meredith Shockley-Smith mentions how Queens Village used a community advisory board and community-based participatory research (CBPR) to continually center Black women to know what resources they need to reach a level of health equity.


Additional Resources

You can find additional resources and approaches to building community power and improving maternal health outcomes within the All In Network. A Trailblazer talk was given during the All In National Meeting 2020 titled “Disrupting Business: Building a Community-led Movement to Address Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality” highlights the importance of qualitative data and community engagement methods to improve maternal health and eliminate infant mortality. This talk was presented by Lora Gulley and Alecia Deal of FLOURISH, an initiative powered by Generate Health, with the goal to reduce infant mortality in St. Louis. One FLOURISH community change project focused on providing resources to Black pregnant and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. They worked with the St. Louis Metro Market to supply fresh produce to women during their pregnancy and distributed essential care packages to families who may not have had access to resources for their newborns. Lora Gulley described their community leaders cabinet (CLC), which comprises community residents who either live in high-impact zip codes or have lived through adverse birth outcomes. These individuals can decide on the key priorities that Generate Health should focus on and invest their time and funding on. Using the CLC allows community members to advocate for their needs and make sure that resources are being distributed equitably.


All In’s Shared Vision for Racial Equity Includes Understanding, Acknowledging & Creating Inclusive Spaces

By: Miriam Castro, Program Manager, Data Across Sectors for Health and Susan Martinez, MUP, Program Associate, Data Across Sectors for Health

On October 22, 2020, All In: Data for Community Health hosted a webinar training, All In for a Shared Racial Equity Vision, led by Shavon Arline-Bradley, Founding Principal of R.E.A.C.H Beyond Solutions, LLC. Her training helped participants define what the All In community means when it talks about racial equity. Through this training, participants learned how racial equity and inclusion show up in multi-sector community collaboration and data sharing work; understood what racial equity is; and felt more confident to take the next step and act in their professional capacities to address racial equity

Watch the webinar recording of All In for a Shared Racial Equity Vision and download the handout here.

A shared vision starts with understanding our shared language and what we mean. As such, the training started with a level setting activity. Shavon opened with a set of images: the COVID-19 virus, the Zoom logo, the photo of George Floyd’s final moments on earth, an image of protests, and finally an image of the 2020 election. Her prompts brought a mix of reactions from the 154 participants who attended. Reactions ranged from outrage to pain to hope. 

“Our personal reactions stem from our understanding that the influence of society is reflective in our work and in the capacities in which we serve,” Arline-Bradley said. “Individuals bring their biases, perspectives, and worldviews to the table and it affects the way that we implement and engage in public health.” 

This simple but powerful concept and the following definitions guided the training:

Determinant A label/element has been placed on individuals by society and aligns with how someone is going to thrive. For instance, race has been a core determinant of an individual’s value in our country, as has class, a person’s access to finance, and their gender, be it identity or orientation. In America, this has shaped the policies and practices around how an individual is determined. If a person is not valued within their society, it will directly impact a person’s ability to thrive.
Race A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics. Used to define dominance and access.
Racism Institutional and individual practices creating and reinforcing oppressive systems of race relations. Whereby people and institutions engage in discrimination adversely restrict, by judgment and action, the lives of those against whom they discriminate. Racism is a harmful determinant of health by the system that has instituted racism has a major impact on the lived experience.
Lived experience How a person is treated, set against standards (imposed by someone else) and affects the jobs that are available to a person and environmental exposures, etc; based on a determinant (such as race)
Anti-Racism The process of identifying, challenging, and eliminating the values, policies, and behaviors within the interlocking systems of social oppression (sexism, classism, heterosexualism, ableism) to redistribute power and transform racial disparity outcomes. That is so the factors are no longer a predictor of success or failure for People of Color at the structural level. 
Anti-Racism in practice An operationalization of pushing policies and practices to redistribute power and to transform disparate outcomes. Race is no longer a factor.
Equality Equal distribution of resources
Equity Providing all people with fair opportunities to attain their full potential to the extent possible, including the presence of policies and practices to provide everyone with the support they need to improve the quality of their lives. Who defines full potential? Who defines this optimal experience? The intent for equity is around fairness, free from injustice, or free from systemic barriers. 
Racial Equity Race no longer determines your outcome. Race isn’t a factor in one’s ability to thrive.
Racial Equity Framework Whereas a lens can shift a framework is solid. A racial equity framework takes into account race and ethnicity and considers the disparities and structural root causes of critical issues.

A shared vision involves a careful decision around what lenses and frameworks are useful for shared work. Arline-Bradley walked through the differences between racial equity and racial justice as lenses. The latter involves acknowledging racial history and understanding how it shows up in our work and in our lives. Recognizing that individuals have not been in positions of power to create change, to be meaningfully involved and who haven’t had a seat at the table to help create structures that can help change their current circumstances. 

A racial equity lens separates symptoms from causes, while a racial justice lens brings into view the confrontation of power, the redistribution of resources, and the systemic transformation necessary for real change.

“I really appreciated how Shavon dove in the details about diction and what specific words truly mean, especially when they have a vast impact on different issues like health equity, representation in decision-making/programming, etc when acted upon. There are differences between equality vs. equity, outreach vs. engagement, acceptance vs. inclusion – and Shavon picks up on these nuances and can talk about why they matter in a way that anyone can understand and internalize,” Solomon Collins, Communications Associate with Data Across Sectors for Health, expressed.

Moving from shared language to shared action involves authentic community engagement. Participants were asked to differentiate between community outreach and community engagement. Participant comments included the following: “engagement is bi-directional, outreach is to engagement is with, outreach is a checklist exercise. Engagement is transformative.”

Arline-Bradley explained that community engagement has another layer of accountability and ensures that a community member is part of the larger team and that data is shared. Voice equals vote and power is shared so that community members are seen as experts and can impact change to their circumstances. Community members are experts who can impact changes and they are a resource that should warrant investment and advancing skills and develop training opportunities. True empowerment isn’t just gifts for time or focus groups, but rather creating sustainable practices in partnership with communities as a collective. 

“Getting started means having more participation, adding more people to the table, and adjusting as needed. We cannot prioritize, map, assess, hold preliminary meetings without having true engagement. Often, we get into our practice, space, tenure, and our leadership and we forget that the community we say we’re a part of brings assets to the table that many of us do not have. We can’t do the work collectively if we don’t start out with that support and humility,” Arline-Bradley said. 

As we move towards racial equity in practice, Arline-Bradley helped us recognize that it’s not an easy process, but it is necessary to create change. She challenged participants to open the door for community engagement, move beyond outreach to making it a standard part of the work. She encouraged participants to:

  • Welcome conflict because it leads to dialogue and new perspectives. 
  • Commit to ongoing learning and long-term transformation. 
  • Ensure that activities are sustainable because it will lead to transforming culture and systems. 
  • Adopt collaborative governance models which is a key difference for inclusive and equitable practices and transparency. 

“I heard Shavon speak for the first time during a New Jersey Health Initiative event – she engaged with attendees in a way that challenged us all to think about ways we could incorporate racial equity work into our daily duties, no matter our role in our organization. Afterwards, I felt inspired to learn more about her work and found she had the lived experience and expertise to provide the All In community with strategies that would help members take the necessary steps to begin applying or continue to apply a racial equity lens to collaboration and data sharing efforts to improve the health of their community.” Naomi Rich, Program Specialist, Public Health National Center for Innovations, recalled. 


“I appreciated Rev. Shavon Bradley’s presentation on a Shared Racial Equity Vision, and in particular, her clarity in comparing the difference between community outreach and community engagement. Our nationalInvest Health work thatReinvestment Fund leads seeks to help small to mid-sized cities make that distinction in their efforts to authentically engage the communities they partner with to advance equity. Rev. Bradley leaned in on not just how the boxes have been historically checked, but more importantly, what the specific tactics are that can build lasting trust and equity with residents.” Jennifer Fassbender, Director of Program Initiatives, Reinvestment Fund, said. 


“With the All In National Meeting approaching in December, it was exciting to hear Shavon guide us in understanding key differences between the concepts of racial equity vs. racial justice, as well as community outreach vs. community engagement. We look forward to applying the framework she shared to both understand where All In communities are in their journeys but also identify where we can make improvements to promote racial justice.” Anna Barnes, Program Director, with Data Across Sectors for Health and All In, reflected. 

This training is one activity leading up to the 4th Annual All In National Meeting, taking place Dec 8 – 10. Registration is now open to All In members and the general public. RSVP here.

Additional Resources:

All In for a Shared Racial Equity Vision Webinar

On October 22, 2020, All In with Shavon Arline-Bradley, Founding Principal of R.E.A.C.H. Beyond Solutions, LLC hosted a webinar training that helped define what the All In community means when it talks about racial equity. The training explored how racial equity and inclusion show up in multi-sector community collaboration and data sharing work. The training helped guide participants toward understanding what racial equity is and help them feel more confident to take the next step and act in their professional capacities to address racial equity.

Session objectives included:

  1. Participants will learn strategies to engage community members/people experiencing racial inequities in the design of community collaborations, data systems, and data-driven programs and policies.
  2. Participants will listen and reflect on a case study presented to examine how data ownership and power dynamics between organizations and community members can shape the design of initiatives to be centered in equity principles.
  3. Participants will identify how their personal and organizational beliefs and practices can support them in taking a step to address racial equity.

Resources from this training include:

All In Webinar: Leveraging Health and Housing Linkages In Response to COVID-19

On April 28th, panelists from Cook County, Cleveland, and Los Angeles County shared their experiences leveraging current health and housing projects to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic facing communities. Panelists shared lessons on 1) leveraging existing relationships to promote an equity-driven response, 2) promoting the value of data sharing and community health when developing new relationships, and 3) technical and relationship-based considerations to sharing data on vulnerable communities.


All In Webinar: Leveraging Health and Housing Linkages In Response to COVID-19 from AllInData4Health on Vimeo.

The panelists are members of the All In Health and Housing Affinity Group, which has engaged in in-person convenings and peer-to-peer site visits over the last year. Sharing knowledge with one another deepened participants’ understanding of various approaches to external partnerships, linked data systems, use cases, and community engagement techniques to further their data sharing.

Clare Tanner, PhD – Co-Director of Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH)

Leticia Reyes-Nash, Director of Programmatic Services and Innovation, Cook County Health (Cook County, IL)
Adam Perzynski, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Center for Health Care Research and Policy at MetroHealth and Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH)
Irwin Lowenstein, Founder and President, Rethink Advisors (Cleveland, OH)
Ricardo Basurto-Davila, Principal Analyst, LA County Chief Information Office (Los Angeles, CA)
Irene Vidyanti, Data Scientist, LA County Chief Information Office (Los Angeles, CA)

If you enjoyed this content, consider joining an All In Affinity Group.

We encourage you to subscribe to the All In Newsletter to receive updates on programming, as well as join the All In Online Community!