HealthSpark’s Chinwe Onyekere recognized as one of Main Line Today’s 2021 Power Women of the Main Line and Western Suburbs
HealthSpark Foundation is enormously proud to share that our Director of Equity and Inclusion, Chinwe Onyekere, was recognized by Main Line Today as one of the 2021 Power Women of the Main Line and Western Suburbs. The Power Women series identifies outstanding women in the area for their contributions to and excellence in their fields.
In her interview with the magazine, Chinwe shared a key point in her career that has shaped her work, saying, “While in graduate school, I gained a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health and the impact of structural racism. This understanding solidified my commitment to health equity and justice and has been a driving force in the work that I do today at HealthSpark.”
As part of her efforts to advance the Foundation’s internal and external commitment to racial and social justice, Chinwe has been leading the development of the Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund, which invests in emerging Black leaders in Montgomery County, supports positive storytelling of Black communities across the County, and builds community infrastructure and power in Black communities to advance justice and liberation for all County residents.
In the wake of the pandemic, the need for this work has never been more clear or pressing. “There’s been a sense of profound urgency to address health inequities that were amplified by COVID-19. I’m committed to taking bold steps that fight against the status quo in how we improve health outcomes for our most marginalized communities,” Chinwe shared in her interview. “I’m also deeply committed to supporting and learning from the community, as I believe the community has the answers and solutions to solve these complex social issues.”
Since joining HealthSpark’s staff earlier in 2021, Chinwe has been on the forefront of county-wide efforts to embed equitable practices within philanthropy and the social safety net. In addition to her creation of a Community Action Team to design the Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund, she has served on several local advisory teams regarding work to advance racial justice. This has included the advisory group for the Racial Equity Learning Community, a learning series created and implemented in collaboration by the three county collaborative agencies (Bucks-Mont Collaborative, Tri-County Community Network, and Interagency Council of Norristown). As well, she sits on the advisory team for Your Way Home’s Equitable Access and Prioritization Project, which is assessing how to improve intake processes into the homeless crisis response system using an anti-racism and trauma-informed lens.
Regionally and nationally, Chinwe and HealthSpark staff are engaged in a number of learning communities and cohorts exploring philanthropy’s role in dismantling systemic racism. Together with the Foundation’s continued internal learning discussions that Chinwe facilitates, these efforts are driving forward HealthSpark’s understanding of how the Foundation can deepen its ability to share or redistribute power to Black, Brown, and other historically marginalized communities; to embed justice-centered philanthropic grantmaking practices within our approach; and to serve as advocates and leaders in building a more equitable community.
As Chinwe notes, “I see power in living your authentic life and bringing your whole self to your work. Power means speaking your truth and speaking truth to power, even when it’s difficult.”