Addressing Disparity: Applying a Racial Equity Lens in the Planning and Implementation Process

As communities seek to build more effective and responsive crisis systems, it is essential to ensure that these improvements produce equitable outcomes. For too long, communities of color have disproportionately lacked access to quality behavioral health care and have been underserved by crisis systems. During this session, communities that have been improving their crisis systems with a focus on improving racial equity will discuss why they took on this challenge, the strategies they are implementing, and their progress to date. In particular, they will focus on how they are working to provide equal access to care and reduce barriers to diversion opportunities. They will also review data from their local crisis systems as they describe how they are addressing inequities, including how they have involved people of color with lived experience of crisis systems in the development of crisis system reforms.

kirby gaherty

Kirby Gaherty, Program Manager for Justice Initiatives, National League of Cities (NLC)

Kirby Gaherty serves as the Program Manager for Justice Initiatives with National League of Cities (NLC) within the Institute for Youth, Education and Families. Kirby is responsible for managing public safety and justice projects with an emphasis on city-led efforts and partnerships related to young adult justice and jail population reduction. Previously, she worked in both Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ on various projects surrounding the reentry of returning citizens, workforce development and the engagement of young adults. Kirby served as the Program Director for PowerCorps Camden, an AmeriCorps program with a focus on justice impacted young adult workforce development and green infrastructure maintenance. In addition, her work with Mayor Michael Nutter’s office of Reintegration Services lead to her passion for justice reform and alternatives to incarceration, with a specific interest in youth and young adult populations. Kirby holds degrees from Temple University and Saint Joseph’s University.

tony mccright

Tony McCright, City Justice Reform Fellow, National League of Cities (NLC)

Tony McCright Jr. is the City Justice Reform Fellow at NLC where he works with the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families to implement restorative young adult criminal justice polices at the municipal level. Prior to NLC, he supported research and marketing projects for change-making organizations across the education and criminal justice space. While incarcerated, Tony took part in several pilot programs which are now permanent at DC’s Department of Corrections. Upon release from prison, he was accepted into the Georgetown University Pivot re-entry program and earned a certificate in business and entrepreneurship. His ultimate goal is to expand the opportunities available for returning citizens. He holds a degree from Old Dominion University and sits on the board of Insight on the Inside.

Anthony Cooper, Director of Reentry Services, Nehemiah Center

Anthony Cooper, Sr. (“Coop”) is the director of reentry services at the Nehemiah Center, where he is responsible for networking with employers, partnering with community organizations and the Dept. of Corrections, mentoring and establishing mentor relationships, and operating the Nehemiah House and Dignity House. Cooper uses his life experiences to help men in the Madison community. A devoted husband and father of two sons, he dedicates his time to ensuring that men leaving prison are re-acclimated to society. Cooper has a strong passion for changing the view of incarcerated individuals in society so they no longer feel imprisoned when released. Cooper brings 10 years of job development and mentoring experience to this role. He has served as a placement specialist, corporate recruiter, Fatherhood Program facilitator at the Urban League of Greater Madison, and as owner/director of Opportunity Tree, Inc.

John Patterson, Assistant Police Chief, Madison, WI Police Department

John Patterson is the assistant chief of police in Madison, WI. Prior to taking on this role in 2019, he served in several other positions within the department for over 20 years. Patterson is committed to providing holistic services to the residents of the city through the department. When serving as a captain, he took on the important work of engaging residents (specifically of the BIPOC community), community-based organizations, and credible messengers. Through this work, he has developed ongoing ties with residents and organizations alike. Patterson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Willie Lightfoot, Vice Council President, Rochester, NY City Council

Councilmember Willie Lightfoot is a former Monroe County legislator who represented the 27th District. He was appointed to the Monroe County Legislature in 2006 and served there for 10 years. He was the ranking Democrat on the Public Safety Committee and also served on the Human Services Committee. Lightfoot is a 12-year veteran of the United States Air Force and served in two wars—Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. He is also a retired City of Rochester firefighter and a 2005 graduate of the African American Leadership Development Program. Lightfoot is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Rochester. He has served on the boards of the Center for Dispute Settlement, Jefferson Avenue Childhood Development, Vietnam Veterans Memorial BoardMonroe County Airport Authority Board, and the Monroe County Fire Advisory Board. Lightfoot is also the founder of the Cut the Violence Initiative, which helps curb teen violence in the Rochester area.

Lena Hackett, President, Indianapolis, IN – Community Solutions

Lena Hackett is the president and founder of Community Solutions, Inc. Founding a firm focused on community development and program sustainability for grassroots, regional, and national organizations was the ideal outlet for Hackett’s combination of knowledge, experience, and drive to be part of meaningful community change. She currently serves on the Indianapolis-Marion County Metropolitan Development Commission and is a member of the Board of Directors of Indianapolis-based nonprofit Dove House, where she is also a former board chair. Hackett has a nutrition and dietetics degree from Purdue University and holds a graduate degree in public health policy from the University of Michigan.