GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids African American Health Institute has launched a search for a new executive director.
The institute, which works to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care, hopes to find a new leader who’s from West Michigan and familiar with the community
“West Michigan is the area in which our advocacy, education, outreach and research efforts are focused,” said Paul Doyle, chairman of the GRAAHI board and CEO of Inclusive Performance Strategies LLC in Grand Rapids. “For that reason, it is our intent to facilitate our search within our region. It is extremely important that our new executive director is someone who knows and understands the dynamics of our community.”
Micah Foster, a certified physician assistant, has led GRAAHI for a year as interim executive director. Foster serves on the search committee with the GRAAHI board of directors and HR Collaborative LLC, a Grand Rapids-based human resources and talent firm that will lead the search.
After GRAAHI hires a new executive director, Foster takes on a new role to oversee development of a medical advisory council of African American health care providers and community health practitioners. The advisory council “will strengthen the organization’s ability to ensure programming and initiatives are mission-centric and demonstrate positive health outcomes in the communities we serve,” according to GRAAHI.
“We are ready to find a candidate who will take GRAAHI to the next level and support the needed change and awareness within our community,” Foster said.
GRAAHI’s search for a new leader comes during the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately affected minority communities and exposed racial and ethnic inequities in health care. The pandemic heightens the 18-year-old organization’s work as it searches for new leadership, Doyle said.
“We know we are at a pivotal point within our community, not to mention our country as a whole. There has been increased exposure of systemic inequities within the black community due to social justice issues and the pandemic, which have increased racial tensions,” he said. “Our work has never been more important, and it is imperative we build on our foundation and identify the right person to continue leading our work within the community.”