GRCC, Grand Rapids Chamber team up to strengthen Institute for Healing Racism

Oct. 16, 2019 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. The Grand Rapids Chamber and Grand Rapids Community College’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are joining together to strengthen the chamber’s Institute for Healing Racism.

“This partnership is about the business sector and education coming together to continue these important conversations,” said B. Afeni McNeely Cobham, GRCC’s chief equity and inclusion officer.

“Discussions around race can be polarizing. It’s important to work together, develop our skills around cultural competence, and embrace these opportunities before a tragedy strikes, rather than when emotions are running high.”

McNeely Cobham said the chamber’s program fits perfectly with the legacy of social justice projects facilitated under the Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion, now home to ODEI.  The partnership will allow the chamber and GRCC to share expertise and resources and create additional opportunities for faculty and staff.

Sessions are offered several times throughout the year.

“The GR Chamber is honored to be partnering with GRCC to provide the Institute for Healing Racism to its staff and faculty,” said Dante Villarreal, vice president of Talent & Business Development.

“The GR Chamber and GRCC, through the Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion, have been doing this work for numerous years. This partnership allows for greater access to the Institute for Healing Racism and supports GRCC’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to lead their institutional objectives and their pursuit of cultural awareness.”

The chamber created the Institute for Healing Racism as an opportunity to have honest conversations about race and identity with a diverse set of people, a topic that is often taboo.

McNeely Cobham said the institute is a solid entry point for people looking to grow their cultural competence. For GRCC stakeholders, participation in IHR would be a prerequisite for employees looking to participate in advanced training offered by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

GRCC faculty and staff must register through the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Please send an email to by Nov. 1.

People interested in applying for the next installment of Institute for Healing Racism should visit the chamber’s website.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.


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