Personality: Reginald E. Gordon | Richmond Free Press
Inside and outside the walls of City Hall, Reginald E. (for Equilla) Gordon works to build a more equitable and racially inclusive Richmond.
As Richmond’s deputy administrative manager for social services since 2018, this is the most recent of Mr Gordon’s roles in municipal government. He first joined the city in 2016 as director of the Office of Community Wealth Building.
Mr. Gordon has also been several months into his final year as chairman of the board of the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, which provides funds to nonprofits whose missions align with their vision for a city. better. Mr. Gordon’s decades of experience in social services have given him a unique perspective on the impact of groups seeking to help the community and the work needed to improve the city.
“I see the connections daily,” Gordon says. “Richmond has many strong partners and non-profit organizations that should work together for the health and wealth of the citizens of Richmond.”
Elected for a two-year term in January 2021, Mr. Gordon’s presidency is the culmination of 10 years of work with RMHF, first boosted when he learned of the group’s tireless commitment to the community.
As Chairman of the Board, Mr. Gordon seeks to ensure that the actions of the RMHF Board of Directors reflect their stated beliefs about health and racial equity. It does so at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated already lingering inequalities in the community, leading some to face unexpected needs for the first time in their lives or to further impact marginalized groups.
“Our community is at a critical inflection point,” says Gordon. “The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the significant racial inequalities that negatively impact the health and wealth of many black and brown people that we need to address as a community and a nation.”
Gordon hopes the lessons learned from the pandemic have created greater awareness of the need to address the daily disparities faced by less fortunate residents of Richmond.
Mr. Gordon’s term ends in December, after which he will serve as President Emeritus for a year before stepping down from the Board and RMHF entirely. Although he has not decided whether he will join an organization similar to RMHF, his commitment to human services remains unwavering.
“Working seriously together to achieve health and wealth equity for all is a moral imperative,” Gordon said. “It will take years, but we are making progress.”
Meet a tireless contributor to social services in Richmond, Reginald E. Gordon:
Volunteer position: Chairman of the Board of the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation.
Occupation: Deputy Director General of Social Services, City of Richmond.
Date and place of birth: September 19 in Farmville.
Education: Duke University, bachelor’s degree; Howard University School of Law, JD
Family: Wife, Dr. Rashida Gray; son, Kobie Foxx, daughter, Kya Foxx.
The Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (RMHF) is: A Richmond-based entity that works to foster an equitable and healthy Richmond region by engaging communities and partners to reduce health disparities. This requires collectively removing barriers to health such as poverty, discrimination and their consequences.
When and why founded: The RMHF has its roots in the founding of Richmond Memorial Hospital. The hospital opened in 1957 in memory of the men and women of Richmond who died during World War II. The hospital opened its doors to people of all races and backgrounds, regardless of their ability to pay.
In 1977, the hospital’s board established the Richmond Memorial Hospital Foundation to hold reserve funds to provide financial stability during a time of high inflation. When the hospital outgrew its original location in Richmond’s North End, it eventually became Bon Secours Richmond Memorial Regional Medical Center in Hanover County in 1998. The hospital’s assets were amalgamated with the foundation. The organization was renamed the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation to emphasize community health and redefined its mission as a grantmaker to foster an equitable and healthy Richmond region.
Values: Equity, learning, stewardship, respect, inclusion, impact and transparency.
RMHF is important in our community because: Our community is at a critical inflection point. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the significant racial inequalities that negatively impact the health and wealth of many black and brown people. RMHF invests in partners working towards health and racial equity in the Richmond area.
When he is elected Chairman of the Board of Directors: January 2021.
Why I accepted the job: I fully subscribe to the mission, vision and values of RMHF. During my tenure on Council, I have had the privilege of working with insightful and talented staff and directors who are committed and dedicated to an equitable and healthy Richmond region. I was honored to have been elected president.
Objective or project number one as president: Ensure that the actions we take as a Board of Directors reflect our stated beliefs about racial and health equity.
Strategy to achieve the objectives: First, make sure the goal has been informed by the target audience, recipients, or community. Then do research and learn from the expertise of others. Create the policy. Finally, take action, executing the strategy, realizing that mistakes could be made. Give yourself the grace to stop, refocus, or start over if the initial strategy isn’t working.
Challenge #1: Maintain clarity of purpose when presented with credible requests for support for a wide range of needs.
Who benefits from the RMHF: We invest in nonprofit partners aligned with our mission so that our community can benefit from their great work.
How RMHF defines health equity: Directors and staff define health equity: everyone has a fair and equal chance to be as healthy as possible. This requires engaging communities and partners to reduce health disparities by removing barriers to health such as poverty, discrimination and their consequences.
How RMHF defines racial equity: We are still reflecting on our organizational definition of racial equity, but we are informed and inspired by these words from our partner, Race Forward: “…we achieve racial equity when race no longer determines socio-economic outcomes ; when everyone has what they need to thrive, no matter where they live.
How RMHF understands health disparities in our community: Inequality runs deep in the Richmond area, but few residents fully understand its impact. For example, the life expectancy of an individual living in an economically challenged neighborhood can be up to 20 years shorter than that of a resident of a high-income area.
Anti-racism and RMHF: We denounce the structural racism that serves to devalue and jeopardize the lives, health and well-being of black and brown people. We are committed to:
• Continue to support our partners in their efforts to apply a racial equity lens to their work
• Capacity building for grassroots organizations and organizations led by people of color
• Invest in strategies that link civic engagement with policy and advocacy efforts.
We also continue our internal process of learning and critical self-reflection as directors and staff of RMHF. We recognize that racism is pervasive in all systems of our society and we are committed to unpacking the practices and culture of the Foundation in our journey towards anti-racism.
RMHF is a partner of: Mission-aligned nonprofit partners, as well as other funders.
What we fund: Our new grantmaking framework – the ways we choose to invest in our partners – is comprised of five core funding strategies that, based on our equity journey, we believe will have the most impact. impact for our mission-aligned partners. Learn more by reading our strategic framework: https://rmhfoundation.org/grants/strategic-framework/.
Examples of organizations or projects that RMHF has helped:
• Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Racial Equity Initiative
• Market value analysis
• Initiative of the CDC Foundation
• Collaboration with the Laughing Gull Foundation
How to access the RMHF: https://rmhfoundation.org/contact/, or (804) 282-6282
How I look at Richmond and her health and equity journey: Working together in earnest to achieve health and wealth equity for all is a moral imperative.
A perfect day for me is: An improvised day of adventure and discovery with my family.
What I continue to learn about myself during the pandemic: Working from home is not for me. I become more accomplished in the office, even though I’m the only one there.
Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: I would like to master Argentine tango. My wife and I considered taking lessons.
A quote that inspires me: “Keep a cool head” This idiom has been passed down from generation to generation in my family. My mother, Mary Gordon West, shares this advice on how to deal with life’s challenges at least once a week.
My friends describe me as: Open minded.
At the top of my to-do list is: Collaborate with other foundations, agencies, and nonprofits to create an integrated service delivery system in Richmond.
Best late night snack: I’m not a snacker, unless there’s a big chocolate chip cookie in the house.
Best thing my parents ever taught me: Treat everyone with respect and compassion.
Person who influenced me the most: My father, the late Reverend David E. Gordon.
Book that influenced me the most: “A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” by Frederick Douglass.
What I’m currently reading: “Radical Aid: How We Can Remake Relationships Between Us and Revolutionize the Welfare State” by Hilary Cottam.
Next goal: I want to write a story about my childhood in Richmond in the 1970s. Young people thrived on the constant love, nurturing, support and affirmation from parents, teachers, coaches, families of the church and neighbors. I would like to do what I can to replicate that energy in Richmond.