Executive Director's Letter to Members on the Death of George Floyd

June 3, 2020

Dear MSSA Members, 

I hope that this letter finds you healthy and safe. I know you are probably not well; none of us are well—we are heartbroken and we are outraged by the killing of George Floyd. 

Last week, the MSSA Board of Directors was scheduled to hold our annual board retreat where we welcome our newest board members, participate in team building, and develop our strategic plan for the year. But it was clear that even if we were present, we couldn’t be present. 

Before cancelling, we took the time to connect with each other to focus on what we needed as individuals and what MSSA needs to be doing today. 

We were able to create a safe space—different than a comfortable space, nothing about this is comfortable—so that each of us could share. As health and human service providers, I encourage you to do the same—right now, more than ever, we need safe spaces in order to process, rest, heal, and have critical conversations about the justice we work for. 

We agreed that MSSA must be more ferocious in our work for social justice. While our Core Values and Purpose clearly state our commitment to social responsibility, equity, and inclusion, I am afraid we have not done enough to address systemic racism and the role it plays in Minnesota’s health and human service system. MSSA can and will do more to equitably work towards systems change. 

We also recognized that our members wanted to take action, so we provided you with an action alert posted to our social media and included in our Advocacy Insider newsletter this past Monday. This action alert provided you with a number of ways to take action, including calling your elected officials and giving recommendations for donations and volunteer opportunities. 

MSSA board and staff will be personally donating to help our community during this time.  

Starting this year, we will be adding a social justice committee. This committee will be a place where we can focus on social justice issues as health and human service professionals. We hope that this will prevent us from what we have seen time and time and time again: a tragedy, followed by public outrage and calls to do more—then complacency as the memories fade and we go back to normal. 

We are also looking into a series of educational offerings as we move forward. Topics and speakers that can help us heal and teach us to become stronger allies. 

We should have done this sooner. 

We will do better. 

In love and solidarity, 

Christina Zeise
MSSA Executive Director

A PDF of this letter is available for download here.