A message from Patrick Fine, CEO, FHI 360
Dear friends and colleagues,
The brutal murder of George Floyd by a white police officer who ignored Mr. Floyd’s pleas for mercy exposes pervasive and profound human development challenges in the United States. We live in a country with systemic racism; police and vigilante violence against black and brown people; deep and growing inequity that leaves the poor especially vulnerable to the COVID pandemic and its economic aftershocks; unequal justice; and governance that has failed to correct and, in many places, even respond to gross abuses of power.
The outrage and anger sparked by George Floyd’s death have highlighted the reality that our society is beset by ills that require urgent care. FHI 360 is a development organization whose mission is to “improve lives in lasting ways.” With programs in the United States and over 60 countries around the world, we pride ourselves on being part of the fabric of the communities where we live and work. In the United States, however, our black and brown citizens experience relentless injustices, indignities and frustrations that many others in America do not or have learned to ignore.
As an organization accustomed to working in fragile states, this week we must acknowledge that our headquarters is located in a fragile country where it is necessary to state the following:
- We disavow those who seek to divide us in order to further disempower those who historically have been oppressed. We recognize this as the political tactics of fragile and failed states.
- We recognize the urgent need to address the racial and economic injustices that make the color of your skin or the zip code where you were born the best predictor of whether you will grow up in a land of opportunity or oppression.
- We call on national, state and local authorities to take immediate measures to uphold the principles we claim to embrace as a nation: equal opportunity, impartial justice, shared responsibility for creating a civic life that is open and welcoming to all, and a government that respects and cares for all citizens regardless of color, creed, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.
- We stand in solidarity with all people who repudiate racism, misogyny and all forms of discrimination.
FHI 360’s vision is a world in which all individuals and communities have the opportunity to reach their highest potential. It is a vision of a world we still believe in and fight to build every day. We commit to expanding our work addressing inequality in the United States and to shining a spotlight on the deep racial disparities in the communities where we work. As an evidence-based organization, we will continue to champion the use of facts and data, applying the knowledge and evidence gained in our programs to help eliminate the social and institutional barriers that disproportionately impact people of color. And we will increase our ongoing efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion across our organization so that all of our employees feel safe, heard, respected and valued in our workplace.
In this moment, we are reminded that to care about the life of another person is not a partisan issue; it’s human. The tragedies of recent events bring with them clarity about what must change, and the groundswell of people demanding action is a reason for hope. I have to believe these are the labor pains of a new rebirth. The alternative is just unacceptable.
Patrick C. Fine
Chief Executive Officer