Hull Fellows Highlight: Allison Brody
Allison Brody’s experiences within SECF, including the work she’s doing today as a Hull Fellow, have helped her during a critical time for not only her professional development, but also the future of the Williamsburg Health Foundation.
“SECF has helped me find the language and the direction I needed to better do the work of equity,” said Allison, the foundation’s director of community engagement. “At an Annual Meeting a few years ago, I heard Michael McAfee from PolicyLink speak. His session helped me put pieces together.”
This year, Allison is putting those experiences to work as the Williamsburg Health Foundation moves through the strategic planning process – one that has been directly affected by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd.
“I think COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd have made us all work deeper on racial justice and equity,” she said. “My foundation is going through strategic planning. Equity has a greater imperative in that plan, I think, than it might have otherwise. We’re doubling down on social determinants of health.”
Allison’s family history has had a strong impact on her perspective on racial equity. Her uncle, a white Jewish man from Long Island, participated in the 1963 March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and served as a trustee for Alabama’s Tuskegee University, among the country’s most prominent historically black colleges and universities. Years later, her son, a Jewish student leader at the University of Virginia, would lead a candlelight march through campus in response to the white supremacist “Unite the Right” event.
“Working – and I mean that in the most active sense of the verb – toward a more equitable future is part of my cultural and personal inheritance, not to mention my job,” Allison said. “Seeking justice is not only part of both who I am as an individual and as a professional but also part of my Jewish cultural and familial inheritance.”
Allison, noting that she is married to a white police officer, said she still believes that overcoming division to combat racism is still possible, even in a polarized country.
“Some of my close friends and family believe being anti-police is equivalent to being anti-racist. I don’t and I can’t,” she said. “I hope philanthropy can be the ‘passing gear’ to help heal the divides in our country, which feel overwhelming at times.”
Allison is now investing in her own future in philanthropy as a Hull Fellow. She says the experience has already allowed her to form deep connections, even if most of her interactions take place via videoconference.
“I’ve have met many determined and inspiring people,” she said. “I absolutely love my Hull Capstone group. We meet once a week, and our discussions are incredibly valuable to me personally and professionally.”