Inside NHPHA: A Monthly Column Written by NHPHA Leadership: Reading with Purpose to Support Diversity

by Marcella Bobinsky, NHPHA President

As a part of the NHPHA Strategic Plan for 2020–2022, I, along with Michael Reaves and Ashley Wilder, with assistance from Kayla Page of SNHU, am working on the Strategic Imperative to “Create an organizational culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Over the next few months, the NHPHA Board will explore our current relationship with these ideas, audit our current actions as to investments we have made to achieve these goals, and then establish a plan to embed actions into our policy deliberations, our committee responsibilities and our priority setting. If you are interested in joining our discussions and planning sessions, please email me at [email protected].

But on a more personal note, I invite you to join me on a journey that is heart-wrenching, bone-chilling, and enlightening. As a white girl who grew up in New Hampshire, as a white woman who was fortunate to have a successful personal and professional life, and one who is a white well-educated retiree tucked into a white rural town, I am trying to understand the impact of inequality and exclusion on people of color, the destitute and the unseen in our country. To do this, I am reading with purpose.

To invigorate my efforts, my husband, my sister, and I took a journey to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, CT. I thought that we might learn a bit about this incredible author, but instead, I was gobsmacked. As we began the tour, we were seated in a small room that had the covers of 29 books mounted on the wall. It was their “Words that Changed the World” reading list. I immediately began to count, to see how many I have read. I counted six. Only six! And many of them were historic novels or accounts. I realized immediately that I have not been reading to understand the cultures and communities that make up our country today.

So back to where I started. If I am to lead the NHPHA in creating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion, I need to keep reading. What books do you need to read? What books would you suggest that we all read? Here are a few book names taken from the wall. Let’s learn together.

  • Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2017)
  • Matthew Desmond, Evicted (2016)
  • Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2013)
  • Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (2011)


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