March is Women’s History Month, and the 2022 theme is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope”. The National Women’s History Alliance (NWHA) is recommending that this year communities should celebrate those among them engaged in healing and building hope.
There is nothing more appropriate right now than that suggestion. So many in our communities have lost friends and family members to COVID. We need to celebrate those women among us who are fighting to keep us healthy and bring us hope.
Who will you celebrate? How about Baltimore City’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Letitia Dzirasas. Dr. Dzirasas is a Hopkins trained pediatrician who has led Baltimore City’s Health Department since 2019, arriving just before the pandemic. She fights every day to keep Baltimore’s citizens healthy. Dr. Dzirasas leads Baltimore City’s effort to protect Baltimore City against COVID-19 and all of its variants. She leads the City’s decisions regarding masking requirements.
You can read about her and what she does for Baltimore City and its residents here: https://www.bigcitieshealth.org/people/letitia-dzirasa/.
Maybe you are interested in learning more about women in medicine who focus on health disparities or equity in Medicine. In that case, you might read more about Dr. Deidra Crews or Dr. Lisa Cooper. They are women in Medicine who work every day to close the gap in medical care experienced by Black Americans all over the country, including Baltimore City. Their goal is to improve outcomes for Black Americans by ending the disparities we experience in health care. A report issued by The University of Maryland in 2016, told us what that gap looks like in Maryland. African Americans in Maryland are 83% more likely to be diabetic, 23% more likely to die from heart disease. Drs. Crews and Cooper want to change that.
Dr. Michelle Gourdine, Senior Vice President for Population Health with the University of Maryland Medical System, is a former Baltimore County Health Commissioner. Her work is focused on equity, patient safety, and women and wellness. She works with her colleagues to ensure that those of us who enter a University of Maryland hospital get the highest quality of care. Dr. Gourdine’s work is awe-inspiring.
Maybe you want to show your support of women in our community who are going far beyond the call of duty to bring hope to those among us who need it most. Take a look at the work that Alicia Wilson and Savonne Ferguson are doing. They are clearly making history in Baltimore today. The two African American women have joined forces and encouraged others to create a Giving Circle. Wilson and Ferguson are co-founders of the Black Philanthropy Circle. The Circle will provide $25,000 grants to Black-led or Black community-based community organizations.
At I AM MENtality we value the mothers who are helping us keep their sons engaged in leadership development activities. We host an annual Mother & Son Conference to talk about issues that our families are facing and how to deal with them. This year we have also added a wellness focus for I AM MENtality mothers, starting with a candle-making activity in January and a yoga session led by AMA Wellness at Living Classrooms/Under Armour House in February.
We also value the women on our team who bring a spirit of hope to our organization. Tiaira Robinson, Teacher at Baltimore City Public Schools, began as a volunteer at I AM MENtality several years ago and is now our Program Director. Tiaira spends countless hours planning and supervising sessions for our Youth Leaders. She says, “I AM MENtality fosters an authentic brotherhood amongst our boys and young men. They are family! Every young man that’s a part of I AM MENtality already has the qualities they need to lead in some form or fashion. We’re just here to ignite that light that’s already inside of them.”
We can’t go this Women’s History Month without recognizing our very own videographer, Kham D. Owens. She has produced over 100 captivating videos for I AM MENtality that help us share our story of hope in Baltimore City. Check out Kham’s most recent masterpiece, a 60-second recap of I AM MENtality & SOY Baltimore’s social justice run with amazing drone shots!
Last, we honor Tonee Lawson of The Be. Org and B-360’s Brittany Young. These two ladies began the Baltimore Legacy Builders Collective along with I AM MENtality Executive Director, Darren Rogers, in order to create a larger impact in Baltimore City for youth. The Be. Org is centered around development programs for girls and B-360 is “carving out a new lane” for youth who ride dirt bikes in Baltimore City. Learn more: https://www.baltimorelegacybuilders.org