Kelli Ellsworth-Etchison appointed to Michigan's Black Leadership Advisory Board
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Chief Diversity Officer for LAFCU Kelli Ellsworh-Etchison was appointed to Michigan’s Black Leadership Advisory Council by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She was the only person to be appointed from Mid-Michigan.
“It was incredibly humbling and it was a combination of a lot of hard work over my career,” she said.
Ellsworth-Etchison has worked for LAFCU for over 30 years. She began her career as a loan interviewer and now, as Chief Diversity Officer, works to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. Ellsworth-Etchison is also a commissioner and serves as the Secretary for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan and is a member of the Study Committee for the City of East Lansing Independent Police Oversight Commission.
“There’s a lot of things that have played into this moment that have made me very qualified,” she said. “When we show up as Black people just living our lives and...the systemic things that we are faced with that we have to just overcome on a daily basis has equipped me very well for this.”
The council is made up of 16 members and four committee chairs, which were selected from a pool of more than 650 applicants. The council members come from a range of fields including: economic, law, public policy, health and wellness, technology, etc.
“I am confident that the group that the governor has selected...will be able to roll up our sleeves to start to uncover and attack and address these things with a lot of thoughtfulness,” said Ellsworth-Etchison
The purpose of the council is to find laws that exacerbate inequalities and recommend policies to the Governor that counter systematic racism and discrimination in Michigan. The council will also be a community resource that promotes Black culture.
“In order to confront systemic racism head on, we need members like those on this council to inform our work in state government. This group of leaders includes experts in economics, public policy, health, technology, the environment, and more,” said Gov. Whitmer in a press release.
Ellsworth-Etchison expects that the council will work with other organizations to combat inequalities. “Anytime you’re trying to make a change in anything, you've got to be willing to reach out to other people, organizations and the community to help get you some of the information you need to arm yourself to make a positive impact.”
Ellsworth-Etchison is passionate about changing legislation that creates economic barriers for minority communities. She said how difficult it is to get support for the Crown Act, which prohibits discrimination against someone for their hairstyle or texture. “It’s an economic challenge for some people. For someone to say ‘you have to change your hair or we’re going to let you go.’ That’s not acceptable on no level,” she said.
Seeing her mother working multiple jobs and struggling with providing for her inspired Ellsworth-Etchison’s passion for economic injustice. She still saw some of the same economic problems when she began working for LAFCU.
Ellsworth-Etchison stresses the importance of having allies that are just as outraged as those who are affected are. “Part of this is an education process of helping educate them on what's going on so that they can get outraged and help us,” she said.