June 2020 President's Letter: Moving Forward With Meaningful Action

These are days. Days that continue to be filled with uncertainty, fear, injustice and challenge. But they’re also filled with moments of connection, meaning, hope and progress. I am grateful for our community and our ability to hold each other in comfort while also driving for change, for better words, thoughts and actions.

I am pleased to announce, after an extensive RFP process, grounded in the recommendations developed by last year’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and overseen by Deepti Babu, Ambreen Khan, Julia Platt, Aishwarya Arjunan, Shivani Nazareth, Erica Ramos, Meghan Carey and Katie Strang, we have signed a contract with the Exeter Group, a Chicago-based healthcare equity consulting firm. Exeter Group has a long history of partnering with healthcare organizations and medical associations to improve the quality of healthcare delivery. Their expertise in qualitative and quantitative assessment, development of strategic models and best practice implementation stood out among the applications we received. 

Their assessment period will commence in the coming weeks to establish a baseline to help understand the current DEI culture in and around NSGC and inform strategy moving forward. It will include stakeholder interviews, surveys, focus groups, staff and leadership assessment and NSGC policy, process and governing document review. The Exeter Group will be providing strategic guidance as the assessment phases move forward, such that we can begin to address policy and start outreach efforts even as assessment continues, learning from these experiences as we go. With this significant investment of resources, we are committing to meaningful change and unwilling to settle for anything less. We will establish performance metrics to which we will hold ourselves accountable and iterate until we see change. There is no acceptable alternative.

In parallel, and to ensure that our efforts are not siloed from the broader conversations and community, we are having conversations with stakeholders across the genetics space, including the American Board of Genetic Counseling, the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling, the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors, the Canadian Association of Genetic Counselors, the Minority Genetics Professionals Network, the American Society for Human Genetics, and the National Human Genome Research Institute.  

Please, let’s keep talking. This is a time when we need to move both fast and slow. We need to be responsive to meet the needs of our community now and put the necessary time in to do thoughtful work and make sure the voices of those who haven’t had a strong platform in the past are found, amplified and considered. We will continue to develop programming in the coming weeks to support education and community discussion, to think about ways to put the right conversations front and center at our annual meeting and to engage people across the community for the years to come.


With gratitude,
Gillian Hooker
2020 NSGC President


This article was published in the June 2020 Advocate Newsletter.

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