Des Moines University received a Community Leadership Award from the City of West Des Moines for its work to make a difference in the city. The award was among those presented at the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day event on Jan. 15 at the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex in West Des Moines.
In 2011, DMU President and CEO Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D., created an office of diversity and multicultural affairs to foster the cultural competency and humility of students and employees. DMU now has a diversity plan with inclusivity as one of the main tenets. Franklin also led the university in achieving her bold vision to build a new 88-acre campus in West Des Moines. The university sponsors and participates in numerous community partnerships and celebrations and offers educational opportunities, collegiate programs, youth programs, clinical care and research that enhance the quality of life for underserved populations.
In receiving the award on DMU’s behalf, Franklin shared a quotation by King: “Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.”
“In a nutshell, that reflects who we are as an organization and what we represent as a team of individuals with one collective vision to serve,” she added. “We’re proudly able to serve the community and future health professionals.”
Receiving the individual Community Leadership Award at the MLK Jr. Day event was Al Womble, political director for the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO and a longtime advocate for equity, social justice and workers’ rights.
“It is a true honor to recognize community partners actively engaged in promoting Dr. King’s vision of a ‘beloved community,’” said Audrey Kennis, West Des Moines diversity, equity and inclusion director. “In a time of considerable turmoil, it is important that we amplify local champions dedicated to inclusion and creating opportunities where everyone can thrive.”
Rich Salas, Ph.D., DMU’s chief diversity officer and assistant professor, nominated DMU for its Community Leadership Award. He also provided the keynote at the event.
“Dr. King approached everything he did in a non-violent way, leading his work with love, kindness, and passion. He was able to not only listen to what people had to say, he heard them loud and clear. He worked to find common ground, and then mobilize people from all backgrounds to stand in solidarity against any injustice. We need more of that today,” he said. “Just “saying we value DEI or believe in the rights of all people is not good enough. If we want to truly commit and honor Dr. MLK Jr.’s work beyond a day of celebration or service, we must not only talk about it, but also act accordingly and advocate for everyone’s voice to be heard and valued.”