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Equity Coalition

The Equity Coalition serves as a resource to provide leadership, expert guideance, and technical assistance on building a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive Douglas County.

We envision a Douglas County that is just, equitable and inclusive for residents of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Our mission is to lead the County in strategies that eliminate racial inequities which create unjust disparities. We achieve our goal by working with local decision-makers on racial equity assessments and strategies, and through advocacy for systems change in structures perpetuating racist disparities. 

Our Story:

In the summer of 2019 the United Way convened the first meeting of the Douglas County Equity Coalition. We brought together a group of local equity "champions" and leaders, advocating for and working towards systems and programmatic changes in our own organizations.  We came together with the purpose of building power for our equity work by breaking silos, providing mutual support and guideance, and serving as local thought leaders for strategies on achieving greater racial equity towards the goal of racial justice and liberation.

The Coalition utilizes an intersectional critical race theory analysis in our equity work, meaning that we center on racial equity while also addressing inequities based on the intersection of social constructs (such as race, gender, sexual orientation, disability) manifested at indivivdual and population levels.

In looking at community data, the urgency for this work is clear. In Douglas Couty:

  • there is a more than two-fold difference in the percent of Black babies born with low-weight at 13.7% - over every other race and ethnicity at 6.8%. 
  • the majority of Black children are living in poverty -- 72.1% of African-American children live at or below the FPL, which itself is barbarically low, as opposed to 11.5% of white children.
  • the Latinx population shows statistically significant higher rates of unemployment (10.7%) compared to both whites (4.6%) and Douglas County (4.9%). 
  • Black males and Native American males have the lowest graduation rates in Douglas County (74.2% and 68.4%, respectively), with an average graduation rate of 83.8%
  • Black residents spend longer times in our jail, with an average of 27 days compared to the average of 16 days for white residents. 

The Equity Coalition can help our community do better.

These disparities don't exist by accident. They are a result of the culmination of the decisions made for hundreds of years that serve to systematically advantage white Americans and to disadvantage and exploit Black Indigenous People of Color. People made these decisions  - but we are people, too, and we can make new ones. We can design policy, budgets, and systems that truly provide a fair chance for every person in our community to thrive. We all want safe, welcoming and thriving communities. Let's get there together. 

 The Equity Coalition is available to serve nonprofits, businesses, and community groups by:

  • Providing racial equity education and resources
  • Facilitating Racial Equity Assessments to guide policy or programmatic decisions
  • Serving as executive, committee, or organizational racial equity advisors


Equity Coalition members include:

  • Jennifer Ananda, City of Lawrence
  • Christina Gentry, LDCH
  • Erica Hill, LMH
  • Sonya Jordan, LDCH
  • Anju Mishra, Housing & Credit Counseling
  • Danica Moore, USD 497
  • Jasmin Moore, City of Lawrence & Douglas County
  • Gallal Obeid, Housing Authority
  • Lea Rosleyn, United Way
  • Paula Smith, KS Volunteer Commission
  • Ranita Wilks, Independence, Inc.


Please contact Lea Roselyn at lroselyn@unitedwaydgco.org for more information on:

  • Working with the Coalition as equity advisors, facilitators, or educators
  • Serving on the Equity Coalition
  • Giving to support the Equity Coalition


Illustration by Sacrée Frangine



Statistics from Douglas County Health Equity Report: https://ldchealth.org/DocumentCenter/View/2408/Health-Equity-Report