CelebrateOne and their mission to reduce the infant mortality rate in our community is near and dear to us at Mollard Consulting. They have been a client for many years and are working tirelessly to create a more equitable community for all of our residents.
Through our effort to elevate diverse voices, we invited Maureen Stapleton, Executive Director of CelebrateOne, to share her perspective as a leader of color in the quest to create lasting change.
Thanks to Maureen and the team at CelebrateOne for the partnership, insight, and important work. Our community is better because of it.
— Mollard Consulting
In January, we often look back at the previous year and evaluate what it has taught us. Hopefully, we learn, adjust and improve. We try new things and forge ahead with proven strategies to get the outcome we want. As I write this on the weekend we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I reflect with thanks and greater resolve to make a difference in this world where I can.
In the past year things have not only changed in my personal life, but also in the world around me. For me, it was moving to a new city to take on a new job. But as I say this, I think about the cliché — the more things change, the more they stay the same. In this case, the year 2020 makes the cliché “crystal clear.”
I was born one year after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and days after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law. Two laws intent on making right the many wrongs and inequities of our past.
In my early years I was hidden from race, racial inequity, and the strife and strain that come with them because I was born to two parents who had a total commitment and resolve to protect me from those realities. But as I grew older they could no longer protect me. I began to see the outcomes of racism and racial inequities, and it became the fuel for my career and my desire to serve and create change.
The racial inequities of today are not new to many of us. However, in reviewing all that happened in 2020, it is clear that more and more people are seeing the inequities as something we all have to play a role in addressing. From the treatment of African Americans at the hand of some law enforcement officers, to the undeniable evidence of COVID-19’s impact on communities of color, to Black and brown babies dying at two and half times the rate of white babies — we have to do better.
2020 will always be a reminder of how much work we have to do to achieve racial equity and how vital eliminating infant mortality is to economic development, living conditions, and overall well-being of the entire community. It is where I choose to make my difference in the world as the Executive Director of CelebrateOne and ask, in some way, that you join me in the fight for racial equity.
CelebrateOne evolved from a corner of Columbus Public Health to an entity under the Mayor’s equity agenda for the entire city. In 2019, it earned 501(c)3 non-profit status, meaning that the critical nature of the work will continue to be carried out.
Recently, CelebrateOne recognized the work of the last five years since its formation and the success that is achieved when one community comes together. There is a sense of pride to see a group grow and impact an entire community by working toward one common goal. CelebrateOne and our lead entities and partners have made positive impacts on infant mortality, but we know work still needs to be done to address the disparities found specifically in the Black community.
While it has been difficult to watch the recent impact of racial equity in police brutality, disproportionate effects of COVID, and the glaring disparities in infant mortality, I along with the team at CelebrateOne and partners will continue to collaborate and focus on saving babies with an emphasis on the communities disproportionately affected.
As we go forward with hope into the year 2021, I ask you find one thing that challenges the inequities you see in the world. That one thing will make a difference and change the world for the better. At CelebrateOne, we will continue to shine a light on the inequities we find and develop strategies to rid Columbus of those inequities forever.
Article by: Maureen Stapleton, Executive Director, CelebrateOne