LGS Statement on Race, Equity and Justice

To Our Leadership Greater Syracuse Family,

The murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and sadly countless other African-Americans, has cast a spotlight on systematic racism and injustice. Black and Brown voices have been largely excluded for generations and systemic racism is embedded in our federal, state, and local laws. These practices allow people of color to be categorically dehumanized and oppressed.

The mission of Leadership Greater Syracuse is to inspire current and future leaders to make a difference in the community where we live and work. This proud mission does not allow us to be silent on the issue of human rights. Conversations of intolerance, oppression, poverty, racism and trauma took place within many of our flagship program class days. Leadership Greater Syracuse will continue to push forward dialogue that examines each of these problematic layers and look to provide avenues on how to take action.

Many of our alumni serve as key leaders, educators, policy makers, and advocates for social justice and have made significant advances to address issues of racism thoughtfully and directly.  Our flagship program creates a safe place for an open exchange of ideas and the Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders board training program is connecting people of color to our community. However, we all can and must do more.

It can feel overwhelming to fully comprehend the depth of the systematic racism facing our nation. Now is the time for each of us to make bold moves to collectively advance our community forward. Today, I am asking you to take the following steps to help create a better Central New York:

Educate yourself, your networks and your community about systemic racism, oppression and privilege.

Talk to your friends, family, and community leaders to discuss harassment and violence against the Black community.

Listen to individuals of color.  But please do not expect any single person of color to educate you about the issues.

As leaders, we each must take an active role in educating ourselves. Read books by authors of color. Watch movies and attend events created or led by members in the Black community.

People of color have been disregarded for centuries. Provide support and highlight ideas and contributions by people of color. Call out microaggressions when you witness them. To be a silent observer is to be complicit.

We all have the power to thoughtfully raise questions. Pay attention to the spaces that you enter. Are individuals of color represented? Review policies and practices with this perspective.

Support local Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) that employ and invest in Syracuse. Your intentional investment can directly strengthen our collective community.

A racially diverse leadership team is stronger and more effective. The majority of CEOs and executives across our community are white. Likewise, most governance boards are majority white. We must actively diversify these spaces to ensure the voices and expertise of our entire community are represented.

Actively sponsor, support, and lift professionals of color into executive leadership positions. Aim for metrics of diversity that reflect the community. In government, we must increase the number of individuals of color holding elective office to ensure we give voice to all.

Leaders often ask, “How can we attract new members or employees?”  Less often do we ask, “How can we listen to, involve, and serve individuals of color to break barriers and build authentic relationships?”

Finally, it is no longer enough to say, “I’m not racist.” Active and intentional allyship and anti-racism action is required.  Listen to others and learn to appreciate each other’s life experiences.

LGS stands for mutual respect, equality, understanding and acknowledging the value that each individual brings to our community to create a culture of inclusion. We expect these traits in every LGS graduate and supporter.

Thank you to our alumni for the ways that you lead, serve, and strengthen our community.

Pam Brunet

Executive Director