KALAMAZOO, Mich – Cradle Kalamazoo, the community initiative aimed at reducing infant mortality in babies of color, has named a new executive director.
Dionne Bowens will lead the collaborative as it grows and evolves to address the root causes of health inequities impacting infant mortality. Bowens most recently served as executive director of the Muskegon-Oceana Community Action Partnership Agency. Prior to that she held leadership roles in programs to help young people attend and succeed in college, and in various roles in youth development.
“We are pleased to welcome Dionne into this important position,” says Dr. Grace Lubwama, CEO of the YWCA Kalamazoo and co-chair of Cradle Kalamazoo governance board. “Her extensive background and experience in supporting community initiatives is a great asset to Cradle Kalamazoo as our collaborative advances.”
“The disparity between black and white infant mortality rates in Kalamazoo County is one of the highest in the state of Michigan,” says Dr. Aaron Lane Davies, chief of quality, Bronson Medical Group and co-chair of Cradle Kalamazoo governance board. “In Kalamazoo, babies of color are four times more likely to die before their first birthday and we are working hard to address that disparity,” Lane Davies adds. “The mission of our new executive director and the collaborative as a whole is to get support to those who need it most.”
Cradle Kalamazoo is a collective impact model made up of nearly 30 community partners. These leaders and organizations are working together to implement evidence-based and holistic interventions. Cradle’s goal is to reduce infant death and end the racial divide in birth outcomes. It seeks to promote respect for families, women and their children. The collaborative is overseen by a governing board which includes: Ascension Borgess; Bronson Healthcare; Family Health Center; Kalamazoo Community Foundation; Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services; Northside Ministerial Alliance; United Way; Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine; and YWCA.
“I am eager to be a part of this collaborative movement to reduce the black infant mortality rate in Kalamazoo and to address the health disparities that create barriers for minority families across America,” says Bowens. “I am in awe of the dedication and commitment of our community partners and I look forward to leading this effort. Together, we will make Cradle Kalamazoo an even stronger community resource to ensure quality care for successful birth outcomes for all families. I look forward to raising awareness and supporting the services that help families provide the best start for their babies.”
Cradle’s executive director and project coordinator offices are located in the Bronson Upjohn Building. For more information about Cradle Kalamazoo, visit the website at cradlekalamazoo.com or call the offices at (269) 341-8819.