Today I am delighted to announce the promotion of three strong and well qualified women of color and one strong and well qualified non-binary individual of color to the well earned position of Chief or Director in four vital areas of this organization. Winner Bell, Akia Feggans, Catrina Peeples, and Assata Thomas all have long and distinguished track records working in the non-profit environment, and a long record of accomplishment at Philadelphia FIGHT.
By promoting these strong leaders, we also encourage a more inclusive definition of good health. According to the World Health Organization: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” We all believe this at FIGHT, and that is why we have developed our education programs, our returning citizen programs, our integrated behavioral health programs to serve our clients as whole people and not focus exclusively on disease. In other words, the superb care we provide to people in our health centers is also enhanced by the work done in programs that are outside our health centers, and to which our patients have easy access. We are all one organization and one community made stronger by all of our programs.
If we want to see change and help individuals we need to address more than just health as the absence of disease, and we need to address many issues facing our community at the same time. The people promoted today have worked along multiple dimensions of intersectionality, while collaborating with our health centers to assure that every individual’s human right to health care is actualized for all of our clients. Our clients are affected by racial discrimination; incarceration; health conditions including HIV which disproportionately affect people of color; lack of access to education; lack of access to the Internet. This last on this list works both ways – as one example, people without Internet have been more likely to die of COVID. We must address both health care and the other areas of oppression for everyone. All of these are part of our way of promoting good health.
Opportunity for everyone. We have a longstanding commitment to helping our patients, participants and clients not just become healthy while living with HIV and other challenging conditions, but to realize their own life goals which HIV should not be able to wipe out. We want to reaffirm this commitment as well to people on our staff and those who might join our staff in the future. We want everyone to feel recognized, listened to, taken seriously, and able to participate in all aspects of the organization regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, or gender identity.