NSGC, you sure know how to end the year right.
Just one month ago, more than 2,570 members of the genetic counseling community came together in Atlanta for NSGC’s second largest Annual Conference. Under the conference theme of “Adapt, Evolve, Thrive,” genetic counselors, patients and colleagues shared personal stories, professional hurdles, research advances and clinical innovations, both inside and outside of the session rooms. We supported two of the patient communities we serve by stuffing 119 Rare Bears (one-of-a-kind teddy bears for one-of-a-kind kids with rare diseases) and recruiting new Be The Match donors (you can still join as part of NSGC’s donor drive at join.bethematch.org/NSGC).
There were dozens of inspiring moments and hundreds of powerful conversations, and I was particularly exhilarated by the many open, honest and challenging discussion surrounding diversity and inclusion. As I wrote in the October President’s Letter, NSGC’s 2019-2021 Strategic Plan includes a new diversity and inclusion initiative. We have drawn a line in the sand that mandates progress and advancements in diversity and inclusion for our members, our profession and the patients we serve. Genetic counselors are a model for cultural competence in healthcare. It is embedded into our training, our continuing education and our code of ethics. Now we must actively, purposefully and quickly create an organization that seeks out all voices, some of which have been silenced and some of which we were fortunate to hear at the Annual Conference. We know we will be challenged, but we will all benefit and we will all make it work.
The next significant step in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiative is to convene a task force. The charges of this task force are:
- Define existing strengths and weaknesses regarding D&I for NSGC and the genetic counseling profession as a whole.
- Assess opportunities for optimizing strengths and overcoming weaknesses specific to NSGC’s position in the genetic counseling community, organizational structure, mission and strategic plan.
- Develop an organizational D&I statement.
- Develop recommendations for recognizing D&I efforts through the annual NSGC Leadership Awards program.
- Develop recommendations for ongoing D&I oversight and direction within NSGC.
- Develop recommendations for NSGC’s ongoing D&I initiatives, as well as recommendations for opportunities to further D&I within the broader genetic counseling community, including the other genetic counseling organizations.
- Make specific recommendations, including proposed budget and committee ownership, for 2020 D&I activities, including those defined in the strategic plan.
The D&I Task Force will create NSGC’s path and is a key opportunity for members who are passionate about ensuring under-represented voices are leading this change. Even if you have never held a volunteer role in NSGC before, your voice is what we need. If you would like to be a member of the task force, please apply here by December 31, 2018. If you know someone who has a unique voice that the task force will benefit from, please share this with them.
I feel incredibly fortunate to end this year promoting an effort that will be so critical to NSGC’s success and relevance in the future, on the tail of a smashing success of a conference.
Thank you to all of you who make NSGC the most phenomenal organization that I know.
Thank you to our innovative, passionate Board of Directors and Committee Chairs who drive us all forward.
Thank you to our dedicated staff who make magic happen, often behind the scenes, to elevate everything that we do.
And thank you for allowing me to serve as NSGC President this year. For someone who loves to talk, I’m struggling to find the right words to capture this incredible experience, but I can say that it has been my absolute honor and privilege.
Erica Ramos, MS, LCGC
2018 NSGC President
This article was published in the December 2018 Advocate Newsletter.