It is my absolute pride and pleasure to greet you at the start of this week as Graham’s President AND CEO. After an intensive and productive six-month transition period for Jess and me, I am honored to take the helm, expounding on the admirable legacy that Jess has left for us and continuing to run with the vision that we, the Graham community, have co-created!
I believe that it is noteworthy that I began my new role on the day that our nation acknowledges as both Columbus Day & Indigenous People’s Day. It is a day that exemplifies the crossroads in which our country finds itself, uncomfortably positioned between two realities at odds with each other: the celebration and veneration of national heroes, customs, and traditions; and, the affirmation of indigenous people, who decry the physical, mental and emotional trauma introduced by the colonization of our nation. As an African-American woman leader, I can relate to national and cultural pride. But, I have also experienced the sting of racial and sex discrimination. My leadership of Graham at this time in our organizational and national history underscores the imperative to address this conundrum. Our nation, city, and Graham community will need to confront these and other hard issues so that in the end, everyone and anyone can succeed in life with equal access to basic and life-enhancing supports and that they are treated with dignity and respect.
I am excited about the journey ahead and what we will achieve together. In keeping with the generations of Graham-folk before us, we are optimistic, hopeful, energetic, focused, and unwavering in our commitment to make a life-altering difference in the lives of children. The memoir of Joanna Bethune, one of Graham’s founders makes this bold assertion about the Orphan Asylum Society (Graham’s original name): “… the Society, up to this hour, has never swerved, nor it is likely… that they ever will!” It was true in 1806, and 215 years later, it still holds true!