#CommunityLeaders: Donna Odom

Strategic Community Partners was born with a vision of catering to mission-driven clientele through partnering strategy with community and cultural context. As the national demand for our work has grown, our team has reflected on the quality and strength of all of our innovative partners and leaders that have been collaborated with us along the way! Our #CommunityLeaders initiative is a space created within social media, uplifting influencers of change, as well as encouraging more meaningful dialogue across social media channels.

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I continue to do this work because the inequities and injustices in our society persist and the need for education, involvement, and transformation endures.

Why do you do what you do? What continually motivates you to stay in this work?

I originally founded the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society because I realized there was no organization researching and documenting the history of African Americans in our area. In 2010, after our involvement with the Race Exhibit Initiative, we saw there was a role for us in promoting racial equity and racial healing. I continue to do this work because the inequities and injustices in our society persist and the need for education, involvement, and transformation endures.

What factors allow you to succeed in your role?

My passion for what I do and the dedication and support of our volunteers and board members allow me to succeed in my role.

What does being a strong community partner mean to you? How do you live that out through your work?

It means staying atune to the needs of the community and using your resources and abilities to work towards meeting those needs. Obviously, we can't do everything for everyone, so it's important to identify where you can best serve with what you have to offer. I have tried to utilize the knowledge and skills I've developed over the years in the areas of management, planning and development, research, and education to build and grow our organization.

 

Biography

Donna Odom is founder and Executive Director of the Society for History and Racial Equity. She holds a B.A. from Kalamazoo College and an M.A. from Loyola University, Chicago. Ms. Odom’s background includes several years teaching in community college and high school. She was Director of Cooperative Education for the eight city colleges of Chicago and Manager of the Business Access Center at Chicago City-Wide College before returning to Kalamazoo in 1993. She retired as Coordinator of Educational Programs from the Kalamazoo Valley Museum in 2010. Ms. Odom was a member of the steering committee for the Southwest Michigan RACE Exhibit Initiative, is a board member of the Historical Society of Michigan, the Kalamazoo County Historical Society and past board member of the Michigan Oral History Association and the Friends of WMUK Advisory Committee at Western Michigan University.