LeadingAge California Equity Cabinet
Engage Magazine Winter 2021

LeadingAge California Creates Equity Cabinet to Address Equity Gaps in Aging Services Field

by Meghan Rose, General Counsel & Director of Social Impact Initiatives and Housing Policy, LeadingAge California

Meghan Rose LeadingAge CaliforniaCOVID-19 has exposed long entrenched and systemic racial inequities in our healthcare system. A simple review of COVID-related deaths uncovers a vast age-disparity, where older adults are dying at a very high rate. However, what a simple review of the data fails to show is the disparity of African-American and Hispanic deaths when compared to Caucasian deaths. 

A Kaiser Health News analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data highlights the extent of this disparity. “African Americans ages 65 to 74 died of COVID-19 five times as often as whites. In the 75 to 84 group, the death rate for Blacks was 3½ times greater. Among those 85 and older, Blacks died twice as often. In all three age groups, death rates for Hispanics were higher than for whites but lower than for Blacks.”

Across our LeadingAge California membership, providers are looking for ways to close these equity gaps, so that everyone who needs it has access to high-quality healthcare, community-based services and housing. 

In support of our members, LeadingAge California announced the formation of an Equity Cabinet to review and make recommendations to increase diversity and equity in our field. The Equity Cabinet will work to create a purposeful and data-driven roadmap for closing equity gaps in the aging services field – prioritizing diversity at all levels of our workforce and workforce training to ensure that all older adults we serve, regardless of their race, ethnicity, disability, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, or spiritual practice, can age in safe, supportive spaces. 

Donna Griggs-Murphy, Resident Services Supervisor for HumanGood, will Chair the Equity Cabinet. With over 20 years of experience working in resident services of affordable housing, Griggs-Murphy brings a wealth of industry knowledge to the table. In addition to her work in resident services, Griggs-Murphy has served on the Alameda County Area Agency on Aging and the Senior Services Coalition. She believes in empowering residents to be active advocates for their health needs, and has seen firsthand the impacts of systemic inequalities in our health and housing systems.

“I am excited and encouraged to be a part of the Equity Cabinet and hope to encourage more women of color to consider careers in the aging and gerontology fields. It is very important to have professionals of color in our field who represent the communities they serve,” said Griggs-Murphy. 

“We are excited to welcome Donna to this leadership role and begin the work of the Equity Cabinet. Our members span the full continuum of housing, care and services for older adults, and together we embrace diversity, equity and inclusion,” states Jeannee Parker Martin, LeadingAge California President and CEO. “Through the creation of this new cabinet, we will work together to ensure the workforce accurately and intentionally reflects the individuals we serve and affirms our commitment to equitable and inclusive environments.”

If you have questions about the new cabinet or have interest in lending your voice to the discussion, please contact mrose@leadingageca.org.