Richmond Memorial Health Foundation Trustees this year are welcoming two new members whose commitment to equity, community engagement and regional cooperation will make them valuable contributors to RMHF’s work in the Richmond Region.
Rosalyn Hobson Hargraves and John Moeser are both respected educators who devote a tremendous amount of their energy and time to their community. The search process was led by RMHF Trustee Reggie Gordon.
“Our Trustees were determined to seek out new colleagues who are committed to service and willing to take a stand for equity and access to better health for everyone,” said President & CEO Mark D. Constantine. “These two individuals are well respected in the Richmond Region, and they have already had a direct and positive impact in this community. I am convinced that they will be forceful voices for progress who will help to propel RMHF and this region forward at a crucial period in our history.”
Hargraves is the associate vice president for inclusive excellence at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she is an associate professor in the School of Education and the School of Engineering.
Moeser served for 34 years at VCU and helped to found its nationally recognized Department of Urban Studies and Planning. He served an additional 12 years as Senior Fellow at the University of Richmond’s Bonner Center for Civic Engagement.
Moeser is a long-time friend to RMHF, and in recent years the Foundation’s mission has aligned more closely with his work on racial justice, poverty and regionalism. Last year, he was a speaker for the Equity + Health Fellowships and served on the Market Value Analysis Advisory Committee.
Hargraves learned about RMHF last year when she attended the presentation on racial equity by Glenn Harris, president of Center for Social Inclusion and Race Forward. She soon realized that many of her VCU colleagues had connections to RMHF, and that its work fits well with her own areas of focus.
“I have been fortunate that every part of my career and what I do at VCU has tied back to my core values of education and community engagement, seeking ways to improve the human condition and to make the world a better place,” she said.
She’s also been active in creating a more diverse and inclusive climate at VCU, helping to drastically improve graduation rates of African-American, Hispanic-American and Native-American students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs over the past 10 years.
Her academic research in electrical engineering gives her valuable insights into health care and has informed her personal experiences. Years before her daughter was in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), for example, Hargraves had worked with a student on the use of advanced technology to evaluate when NICU infants can be transitioned from feeding tubes to bottles. She is keenly aware that such breakthroughs are not accessible to everyone.
“In our country and in our region, access to excellent health care is often tied to race and ethnicity,” she said. “Whether it comes down to differences in language, differences in culture and customs, differences in finances and economic status, all of that is woven into the type of health care services individuals often receive.”
Moeser’s research has influenced many of the policies to combat poverty that exist across metropolitan Richmond today, and he remains a strong advocate for regional cooperation to more effectively address the issue.
“Poverty rates have fluctuated, but during the 21st century, they have increased and, for the first time in U.S. history, racially identifiable poverty has concentrated in the suburbs,” he said. “Whole metropolitan areas are now affected by poverty, not just the central cities. Efforts to address inequities must now be regional in scope.”
Moeser is excited about the potential for RMHF to be part of those strategies.
“RMHF can play an important role in coalescing with other nonprofit organizations, particularly those advocating for more affordable housing, the creation of socially and racially diverse schools, the extension of public transit, job training, employment, the development of social enterprise that leads to worker-owned businesses, living wages, and the expansion of Medicaid in Virginia,” he said.
There is obviously a great deal of work ahead, and RMHF leaders are excited to have Hargraves and Moeser join the board.
“With its strong footing in the health care field as a significant supporter of the safety net, RMHF is now broadening its vision to include housing and other social determinants of health,” said Trustee Chairman Danny Avula. “Dr. Hargraves and Dr. Moeser possess the relevant knowledge to meet these new challenges, as well as the energy and motivation to help us live into our goals for greater community engagement. They are gifted individuals who will be central to our work over the next several years.”