The evening began with a stirring poetic reading by Ikenna Ugbaja ’21. Reading his own thought-provoking poems entitled “Lady I See” and “It Gets Cold in Alabama,” he received a spirited ovation for his presentation.
Greg Schneider, Ronald M. Druker ’62 Head of School, introduced the evening and talked about the many ways the School has evolved in terms of its approach to multiculturalism and inclusion and steps it is currently taking. “Our work is to create Belmont Hill graduates who have the ability to demonstrate empathy and appreciate difference,” Mr. Schneider explained. “MAP is an essential building block to this goal for our community.”
Later in the evening, Philmore Anderson ’82 introduced his friend and former classmate David Walker ’82. Mr. Walker started his talk by recalling his road to the School and why it was truly a transformational experience for him. He offered heartfelt thanks to his family and to several Belmont Hill teachers who helped him on his way. “Thank you to the school that changed my life,” he said. “Thank you to my family, some of whom are here and some no longer with us, who did so much for me that I cannot put into words how blessed I have been to be part of their lives.”
Carl Dawson ’72 P’15 then introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan. Dr. Minter-Jordan is the Chief Impact Officer and Executive Vice President at DentaQuest and the former President and CEO of the Dimock Center. The Dimock Center is considered a national model of comprehensive health and human services with an emphasis on the integration of clinical and behavioral health practices, and reaches more than 19,000 people annually through comprehensive health and human services.
“In my view, a great leader is one who not only has a vision but who can translate that vision into strategy and tactics and then execute on them to achieve the desired outcome,” Mr. Dawson stated. “To have that vision, a person needs to have a broad understanding of not just the challenges, but also each of the constituencies impacted by them so that holistic solutions can be devised that benefit all.”
With that, Dr. Minter-Jordan took to the podium. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to stand here before you as a community leader, physician, mother, and wife,” she began.
“I bring all of those roles and perspectives together as I reflect on what is happening in our world, in politics, race relations, and the community.”
Despite the challenges to multiculturalism and inclusiveness that she outlined, her message was one of hope. “One of the most important things that I can do is to lead with hope--lead towards solutions and partnerships and strategies to face challenges. I will also continue to instill hope in my daughters, other young women, and all of our children--our future.”
She praised the work Belmont Hill is doing to create a more inclusive community. She said she was energized by the power and legacy of Belmont Hill, and inspired by all of the initiatives of the Multicultural Alumni Partnership including its work with Parents Fostering Diversity. “As we have conversations and take action to foster diversity, we expose our faults, fears, and misconceptions, we open up a door previously closed to communication--about racial injustice, systemic racism, and gender bias.”
Dr. Minter-Jordan stated that when she considers the legacy of Belmont Hill, “I see the common threads of fearlessness, perseverance, inspiration, and hope and I know that together, we have a shared responsibility for promoting diversity and inclusion.”
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