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Employee Resource Group Spotlight: Makabila

Posted in: Employee Spotlight

We believe by embracing the strength of diversity, justice of equity and welcome of inclusion, we become a better workplace and center of healing.

Profound disparities exist for the Black community. To close these gaps, we believe that diversity, equity and inclusion values must be genuinely woven into the culture of our health system.

One way we are doing this is through Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

As a collaborative effort of DEI and HR, we are grateful for the leadership of the cross-functional planning team that informed the guidelines for creating ERGs, like Makabila, across the organization and for the ongoing ERG management by DEI program coordinator Thomas Pierce.

Makabila is the Swahili word for tribes. It speaks to finding your space while paying homage to African American origins. 

Finding your space

The goal of the Makabila ERG is to provide resources, support and education to assist in the advancement, recruitment and retention of Black and African American employees. Led by ERG co-chairs Tonja Moyer and Myisha Gill and executive sponsor Monica Taylor, Makabila provides a safe and supportive space where staff can share experiences, challenges, successes and perspectives through an afro-centric lens.

Since its inception in August 2020, Makabila has hosted multiple lunch-and-learn sessions, where staff examined and discussed Just Mercy and Black Men in White Coats.

The staff-led ERG also hosted a free virtual tour of Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. Attendees learned about the history of race, racism, race relations and the contemporary impacts.

The Makabila intranet page also publishes several resources for Metro Health staff to reference and educate themselves, including books, videos and articles.

Makabila is for everyone

Makabila welcomes all voices and perspectives. Membership is open to all staff, whether you identify as Black, African American, or an ally who wants to learn more about biases and support your colleagues.

Makabila organizers are excited to see participation from a diverse cross-section of staff.

“As the name suggests, Makabila is about how we are all part of one tribe – humanity,” said Tonja Moyer, Director of Continuous Improvement and Makabila co-chair. “No matter your ethnicity or background, Makabila welcomes everyone on the quest for diversity, equity in opportunities and inclusion in decision-making processes.”

Creating a kinder world

Makabila goals include increasing membership within their ERG and community engagement by having more Makabila representatives serving on boards and building upon the success of its acclaimed lunch-and-learn series. The group is also creating an open and safe forum where staff can ask questions they may be too afraid to ask in person.

Makabila welcomes all Metro Health staff members to join the ERG and share their learnings with their family, friends and communities.

“It’s only through education, conversation and understanding that our world can become a kinder place for all people,” said Lynnette Phillips, Sr. Quality Management Specials and Makabila Communication Chair.

ERG Planning Team
Dec 2019 – April 2020

Dr. Rhae-Ann Booker, VP- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Marla Cole, HR Director- Employee Engagement, Talent and Operations Kristina Negawnawquet, Billing and Reimbursement Specialist,

Jamie Counterman, Foundation Director

Jennifer DeVries, Volunteer Services Supervisor

Shawn Bolen, Nurse Coordinator

Michelle Rademacher, Head of Community Outreach

Jenny Dondzila,Credentialing Specialist Coordinator

Linda McIntosh, Care Manager

Dr. Katherine Sage

Kathryn Watson, Sr. Talent Acquicision Specialist

Lynnette Phillips, Sr. Quality Management Specialist

Tonja Moyer, Director- Performance Improvement

Jen Gonzalez, Chief Human Resources Officer

Jessica Wismer, HR Business Partner

Nanda Fowler, Manager- Clinical Informatics