Mr. Gregory Owens, director of Strategic Partnerships and Collaborations in the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, addressed183 graduates and their families at the University at Albany School of Public Health’s Spring 2016 Commencement on Saturday, May 14, 2016. A licensed master social worker, Mr. Owen’s has spent the past 29 years with New York State in various management and leadership positions.
[Photo: Mr. Gregory Owens]
In his talk, Mr. Owens spoke about health disparities within the U.S. and within the local community in which the school resides. He told the graduates they are uniquely prepared to address the inequities in health of our nation, neighborhoods and families and when on to tell them that it is up to the emerging leaders, the graduates, to change the narrative about health for those who experience the greatest disparities. He encouraged them to reframe the discussion from blaming the victim to look at structural conditions in institutions and society that perpetuate low opportunities for some. He reminded them of the need to be aware of how stereotypes threaten the ability to have opportunities and improve outcomes and told them to strive for structural and cultural competence, to bring people together and build bridges, to fill their gaps in knowledge, and to advocate for a level playing field.
In addition to his position with New York State, Mr. Owens is a motivational speaker, consultant and trainer, whose areas of specialty include leadership development, Black male engagement, effective communication, race equity, mentoring, and community engagement. He has developed an interest in the mind sciences related to Implicit Bias and is currently providing orientation sessions to the Albany Police Department and convening community dialogues related to that work. Mr. Owens has presented workshops and seminars on racial disproportionality and equity throughout the state, and with the National Juvenile Detention Association in Ohio, Michigan and Hawaii. He is a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee of the New York State Board of Regents Workgroup to Improve Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color which is inspired by President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and the Child Welfare Adoption Leadership Institute: Developing and Supporting Emerging Leaders of Color.