30 April 2023
Episode 3: "Health as a Human Right: Power Building for Community-Driven Change"
Featuring Xavier Morales and Judith LeBlanc from the Praxis Project
About Our Guests
Xavier Morales is the executive director for the Praxis Project, a national organization that centers equity and community power in efforts to transform policies, systems, structures, and practices that underlie inequity and injustice. Before Praxis, Xavier led the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. At both organizations, Xavier has worked to center health, equity, and racial justice as a foundation for organizational goals and strategies. While adopting and advocating for a Learning Circle/Community of Practice approach to accompany our powerbuilding partners in their efforts to address community-defined justice priorities, Xavier strives for our work to be less extractive and create a space for bidirectional learning where all expertise is heard and valued. Xavier has spent the last 20 years learning from community advocates and, before that, studied urban planning and environmental sciences at Cornell University and the University of California.
Judith LeBlanc is a member of the Caddo Nation and has an endless appetite for fry bread, an inter-tribal culinary delight! As the executive director of Native Organizers Alliance (NOA), she has learned many secrets to the art of good fry bread. She leads a national Native training and organizing network which supports tribes, traditional societies, and grassroots Native community groups in urban and tribal communities.
Judith is part of a growing circle of leaders in Indian Country who understand the necessity for an organized, durable ecosystem of Native leaders and organizers who lead with traditional values. NOA conducts learning circles, trainings, and strategic planning sessions to support Native leaders in organizing the grassroots movements for structural reforms, leading to Native sovereignty and racial equity for all.
Judith is chair of the board of NDN Collective and Common Defense . She is a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow and is currently a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. She also serves on the advisory board for the Indigenous Earth Fund and Native Voices Rising. She has also worked with the Brave Heart Society, a traditional Dakota women’s society, and the Yankton Sioux Tribe on the Mni Wakan Wizipan.
The Praxis Project was founded in 2002 by Makani Themba to “forge a more capable, diverse, effective, connected and visionary cadre of changemakers worldwide.” The Praxis Project is a national organization that centers equity and community power in efforts to transform policies, systems, structures, and practices that underlie inequity and injustice
Native Organizers Alliance (NOA) conducts learning circles, trainings, and strategic planning sessions to support Native leaders in organizing the grassroots movements for structural reforms, leading to Native sovereignty and racial equity for all. Under Judith LeBlanc’s leadership, NOA has played a leading role in the galvanizing of the Native vote which turned out in record numbers in 2020. NOA co-led the effort to press for the nomination and confirmation of Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. The organizing effort generated tens of thousands voicing their public support to the Biden administration Transition committee and to the Senate including over two hundred letters from tribal governments.
In 2019, NOA co-initiated the first ever Native Presidential Candidates Forum in Iowa. Thirteen top tier candidates participated in the two day event which was attended by over five hundred tribal leaders, Native organizers, community and youth leaders who conducted the interviews of the candidates. NOA also led efforts to protect the right to vote on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 2018 after the North Dakota State Legislature attempted to restrict voting by requiring street addresses. On Indian Reservations street addresses are rare and people have always used post office boxes on their tribal identification cards.
The Institute for Healing Justice & Equity (the Institute or IHJE) aims to eliminate disparities caused by systemic oppression and to improve individual and community health and well-being through systems change and deep community partnership. As part of these core goals, IHJE created a panel of content experts, community advocates, and organizations called the Anti-Racism Consortium. Each consortium member has a history of working to:
- develop and advocate for anti-racist health policy;
- address the root causes of health inequities; and
- develop programs and interventions that address multiple levels of medical racism, structural racism in health and the health care system.
In the Critical Futures podcast series, Consortium members describe their work and perspectives related to anti-racist health policy as well as structural racism in the healthcare system. These interviews are also conducted with a community partner that the members have worked alongside — with the goal of highlighting how to deeply work with community in a way that shares power and that moves us all towards liberation.
This episode was produced as part of the work of the Anti-Racism Consortium. Support for the Consortium was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.
Episode Host: Ruqaiijah Yearby | Director of Community Research Ethics, IHJE.
Audio Production: KJ Schaeffner | Web Developer + Designer, IHJE.
Podcast Artwork: Wriply M. Bennet.
Theme Music: Future Vision/FineTune Music via Adobe Stock.