About the Pandemic and Racism Community Advisory Group
In March 2020—as the COVID-19 pandemic was rapidly unfolding in King County—Public Health — Seattle & King County convened a multisector table of community, business, and public sector representatives who work to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus by accelerating the adoption of community mitigation strategies. Five months later, community representatives and Public Health came together to revisit, reframe, and expand the group's purpose, in large part driven by the need to address regional racial inequities more effectively. In addition, to achieve its revised goals, the Advisory Group modified its approach from being led solely led by Public Health, to being co-led by community representatives and Public Health. Finally, it modified its name to "Pandemic and Racism Community Advisory Group" to better reflect its expanded intent.
PART 1: Purpose (revised September 2020)
The Pandemic and Racism Community Advisory Group works to identify, inspire, and mobilize bold solutions in response to the urgent, interconnected crises of COVID-19 and systemic racism.
We believe all King County residents should have equitable opportunity for health and well-being, and therefore focus this work on historically marginalized people and communities who are disproportionately impacted by these crises.
We seek solutions that respond in the near-term to the crises in front of us, and solutions that will prevent similar crises from continuing to unfold in the future by challenging the systems and practices that underlie these unacceptable, disproportionate impacts. By intentionally capturing and acting on lessons learned along the way, we will recover and rebuild toward an inclusive, anti-racist future.
How we work
- By centering on Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
- By recognizing the intersectionality of people's overlapping identities and experiences –such as race, ethnicity, disability, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, class, and other identities—and its role in discrimination, oppression, access, and privilege.
- By creating effective feedback loops and partnerships among community, business, and public sectors—to disseminate accurate information that is culturally appropriate, that is accessible to those with disabilities, and that provides for language access; to counter misinformation and stigma, to document lessons learned; to influence and advise on solutions; and to help save lives.
- By a co-powered leadership structure that positions communities as drivers of change by building from their long-term experiences and knowledge.
- By holding King County and Public Health — Seattle & King County accountable to its public commitment to work over the long-term in stronger, better resourced, and true partnerships with community to disrupt and dismantle the oppressive, racist systems it has been complicit in maintaining.
PART 2: Leadership structure and staffing
Steering Committee. The Pandemic and Racism Community Advisory Group will be led by a Steering Committee. Steering Committee members will work together to:
- Co-plan the agendas for Advisory Group meetings – determine meeting priorities, approach, facilitation, and intended outcomes
- Strategize on follow-up activities outside of meetings to address issues raised
- Help co-facilitate Advisory Group meetings and Steering Committee meetings
- Determine meeting frequency
- Establish, when and if needed, subgroups/subcommittees to carry out agreed-upon activities
- Periodically review and update membership of the Pandemic and Racism Community Advisory Group
- Learn and adjust, making recommendations about modifications to the overall approach to the Pandemic and Racism Community Advisory Group and to its leadership structure.
The Steering Committee will comprise six individuals – five from Advisory Group members who represent community-based entities, and one from Public Health-Seattle & King County.
For the five community seats, representatives will serve a six-month term; this will allow different voices to rotate on and off the steering committee. When first formed, three of the positions will have an initial longer term of 9 months in order to create future staggering of member turnover. The first group of Steering Committee members were: Bereket Kiros, COVID-19 Community Response Alliance; Kimberly Meck, Alliance of People with disAbilities; Michelle Merriweather, Urban League; Jodilyn Owen, Rainier Valley Midwives; Yordanos Teferi, Community Health Board Coalition; and Matias Valenzuela, Public Health — Seattle & King County.
Community representatives on the Advisory Group who are not currently serving on the Steering Committee are welcome to observe Steering Committee meetings, and will be provided meeting information on request. Any Advisory Group member may offer suggestions to the Steering Committee.
Decision making. For issues that may arise where an agreement is needed to move forward, the Advisory Group and its Steering Committee intend to use a consensus decision-making process.
Staffing. Public Health — Seattle & King County intends to provide staffing and logistics support for meetings of the Pandemic and Racism Community Advisory Group and its Steering Committee.
Meeting frequency. From September 2020 – December 31, 2021, the PARCAG will meet every two weeks for 90 minutes. The Steering Committee will meet for one hour every two weeks, in the intervening weeks between the Advisory Group meetings. At the end of 2021, the Steering Committee may evaluate whether this frequency is working well or recommend a change.
Stipends. Stipends are provided to Steering Committee members to compensate for the additional time they contribute to PARCAG.