A message from Dave Willcutts, CEO of The Emily Program

To our communities, friends, and colleagues:

The events that have occurred in the Twin Cities and across the nation are heartbreaking. The Emily Program is a member of the communities in which we live, work, and serve. We stand in solidarity with the community’s call for change and we are seeking ways we can listen, learn, and participate to fight systemic racism and injustice.

We have been asked about concrete actions that we are taking, so I will share that here. I want to emphasize that this is the beginning of our response; it is not a one-time response. There is a necessity for real action to have a real impact across the country, and we, as an employer, as community members, and as caregivers play a critical role in that action and the extent of its impact.

What I describe below is what we’re doing today. Over the coming days and weeks, we must listen, learn and open up to understanding, so that the plans we make, the actions we take, the participation we engage in is effective and informed. We don’t want to see the impact fall short, as so often seems to be the result.

Here are a few actions we are taking now:

1. The Emily Program will be donating $10,000 at this time towards two activities: a) Engaging with The Urban League to join with their national and local efforts addressing institutionalized racism. b) Supporting local clean-up, support, and rebuilding efforts in our communities.

2. We have engaged the Director of Programs at Avenues for Youth, Dr. Zayed Ahmed, to facilitate process groups specifically for our BIPOC staff members.

3. Staff members who choose to take time off work to participate in community efforts will not be required to use PTO.

4. Last week we initiated process groups for all staff as an open forum for support and sharing, led by Liz McCabe. Ph.D, one of our most experienced social workers. These will continue through the week and beyond, as needed.

5. Our executive team will be participating in local clean-up and community support this week in Minneapolis and St. Paul and are seeking ways for staff to participate in each of the communities.

Going forward we will continue to seek to engage, listen, and learn. From these efforts, we will develop further action plans focused on our communities and The Emily Program. I feel it is important I say that I recognize that I am a white man, that TEP is a predominately white-led and white-staffed organization, and that it is from this position, so different than George Floyd’s position, that we must listen and learn. I know this is a journey that takes a commitment of time and focus. I recognize that this is a starting point and we need to do more.

I am extremely grateful for our staff, working through so much every day in so many different ways to care for clients while they care for themselves and for our leaders across the organization persistently working to support their teams.

Our journey through 2020 continues and I am proud to be here with all of you finding our best path through.

Dave Willcutts, CEO

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