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Power 2 Change: United Way CEO Robyn Davis

Robyn Davis connects people, resources and ideas to have a positive change in our community.
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 10:02 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As a community resource, WBAY-TV2 knows we need to do more, to advance the conversation about race in Northeast Wisconsin.

This is the Power 2 Change.

As president and CEO of the Brown County United Way, Robyn Davis connects people, resources and ideas to have a positive change in our community. She has a lot of personal experience to draw from. Davis was homeless for a time growing up, became an attorney, then judge, worked in ministry and oversaw Freedom House in Green Bay before stepping into the lead role at United Way. Robyn Davis speaks about her work advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion.

“My name is Robyn Davis. I am president and CEO of Brown County United Way here in Green Bay. I am a native of New York City, the oldest of five children. I have lived here in Green Bay since November 2002. I did not however really encounter overt racism until I went to law school. I attended George Washington University, in our nation’s capital. And I was very excited to do so. However the first semester of my first year. It became quite apparent to me, and the other two black students in my section. We had a discussion about Affirmative Action, which was a brand new concept. Recent Supreme Court decision had come down. And as I said, it became quite apparent in that moment, during that discussion, that my white classmates did not think that we belonged. They felt that we had gotten a free ride that we did not have to compete at the same level educationally. They assumed we had low SAT scores, low LSAT scores, that our GPA’s weren’t up to par. By the way—they were pretty vocal about it.

CLICK HERE FOR AN EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH ROBYN DAVIS

As President and CEO of Brown County United Way, our job is to, our role in the community is to, unite people, resources and ideas to create community solutions that benefit every person in every community in our county. You hear a lot about diversity, equity and inclusion. And what that means is: there is opportunity and access for everybody. And there are going to be instances where we have to look at the work that we do, with that lens of racial equity—and acknowledging that there are disparities, and how do we address them. So for example: as we are continuing to navigate our way through COVID-19, what this pandemic has highlighted are the health, education and economic disparities between whites, African Americans and indigenous people, people of color. Everyone loves data. The data is there.

When we talk about how we move forward, each within our spheres of influence then, we need to have that lens—so that the solutions that we are crafting are really going to be impactful. Everybody talks about that. Let’s be data driven, let’s be evidence based driven. Then let’s do it, and let’s look at all the data.” If we are going to be intellectually honest, and if we are going to really make a difference. I think we are at the start---I think there are a lot of good things that have already begun—but we have a ways to go. I’m hopeful. I think if you had asked me immediately after the George Floyd murder, one of the comments I made was ‘I’m hurting, but hopeful.‘”

MORE POWER 2 CHANGE REPORTS

Power 2 Change: Alexandra Ritchie, UWGB

Power 2 Change: Pastor Charles Butler

Power 2 Change: Renita Robinson, YWCA

Power 2 Change: Harry Sydney

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