ROCKWALL, TX – September 9, 2020 — The YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas announced it has created a new executive leadership position to advance the Dallas Y’s efforts to achieve race and gender equity within the Y and in the greater Dallas community. Rodrigua Ross, nationally recognized as a leader on diversity and inclusion issues for the YMCA, has been named the first ever Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas.
Ross has been with the YMCA for more than 22 years, most recently serving as the District Executive Director of the Park South YMCA and as National Chair of the African American Resource Network, an Employee Resource Group for the YMCA of the USA. She has launched Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in the Dallas Y including D.R.E.A.M (Determined, Resilient, Engaged, Access & Movement) African American ERG, Women Empowered, the Women ERG and Campeones Unidos (Champions United), the Hispanic/Latino ERG. She is an accomplished advocate for children and families in under resourced, marginalized, and access deficient communities. Ross has successfully collaborated with government entities, public and private nonprofit agencies, and corporate partners nationwide to address issues including youth development program deficiencies, improving family stability, increasing access in low income communities, poverty, reducing social stigmas associated with “at-risk” populations, and dismantling of inequitable systems.
Ross holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Business Administration with a focus on Strategic Leadership. She has also partnered to establish a nonprofit based out of her hometown of Brooklyn, New York to support academic achievement among student athletes of color.
“For the past 22 years, discovery has been at the core of the work I have done in marginalized and under resourced communities at the YMCA. The Y takes seriously its role in educating employees and the Dallas community about the realities and inequities of our society, increasing awareness and offering strategies for the individual accountability and structural changes needed to support inclusivity and equity. I’m honored to lead that work for the Y,” said Ross. “At the Y, we are committing to be anti-racist by deepening our understanding of the impact of race, unconscious bias and privilege. This is a long and arduous journey, and one I look forward to leading for our organization.”
In addition to this newly created position on the leadership team, a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee has been established by the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas Board of Directors to keep the organization accountable and forward thinking on how it addresses diversity, race, and inclusion. Wendy J. Holder, the Dallas Market President for Access Bank Texas, and Grafton Ifill, Executive Director and Team Lead at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Dallas are the board members that will co-chair this committee.
“The Y strives to ‘be for all, all the time’. At this time, we are called upon to do more. We must look closely at the present and demand a reality where race does not dictate health, longevity, safety or well-being,” said Curt Hazelbaker, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. “While our Y has realized many advancements regarding diversity, like many organizations, I thought we could do better. It’s been a goal of mine for the last three years to make the Dallas Y a leader in diversity and inclusion and these steps will help us achieve this long-term goal.”
The Y is committing to the following items as a first step in deepening our understanding of the impact of racism in the Dallas community:
- Prioritizing the eradication of racism
- Participating in unconscious-bias and undoing-racism training designed for leaders of community-based organizations
- Establishing a diversity and inclusion leadership position across our association
- Ensuring diverse candidate pools are sought for all positions
- Establishing a Y vendor participation percentage requirement for minority- or women-owned businesses
- Facilitating on-going conversations with our boards, staff and communities regarding race and related matters
- Addressing health disparities prevalent in Black and Brown communities
The YMCA mission is to put Christian values into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. We work diligently to be a cause-driven organization that supports youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. It is consistent with our mission that we will lead in conversations about racial injustice. When tornadoes ripped through Dallas neighborhoods, we opened our doors to provide comfort and shelter. As COVID-19 has left people without food, childcare and created a blood shortage, the Y is there to support our community. When people endure racial injustice and violence, as Black communities are suffering, we raise our voices and take action.
To learn more about how the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas is addressing racism in our community, please visit www.ymcadallas.org/diversityandinclusion.
Submitted press release.
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