DEI Committee

Diversity Equality Inclusion - January 11, 2021

Diversity Is Within Us. Let It Shine Like a Candle

by Rob Liebreich, President & CEO

As you, I am unique. I bring a view of the world that is shaped by my own personal experiences of what’s around me. Several experiences that shape my view of diversity are below.

Growing up in a Jewish household in Beaverton, Oregon, I learned early on about ways in which humanity can be cruel and devastating as the Holocaust was something I was expected to learn about and understand. Later, in my early 20s, and even as recently as four years ago, I traveled to several concentration camps throughout Europe, where I sat with the sorrow and loss brought by unbelievable acts. But who can “understand” why people decide that you deserve to die or deserve to be treated as less than human because you are different from them?

While I sat on a train in the same compartment with older Germans who likely witnessed the war first-hand, were my emotions to be full of anger?

Twenty years ago, my brother married a wonderful woman who grew up in Japan. They remain together, and I recall when we visited Japan in 2001. Sitting on a bus with older residents of Hiroshima, I was curious—were their emotions still full of anger at the United States of America?

When I came into service of older adults in 2002, I remember speaking with my uncle who is gay, and wondering: If he were to seek out a place for care, would he be treated by the people who serve him and by his fellow residents with the critical respect and dignity we all deserve?

In 2002, I married the love of my life, and just a few weeks ago, we enjoyed as an interfaith family the glow of Hanukah candles, followed by a Christmas Mass (virtual this year).

Every Friday evening, my family and I make an effort to eat dinner together and to light candles in celebration of the week. A candle is wonderful in that its light shines everywhere in a space, even in spaces that often see no light.

Similarly, diversity is within each of us. Now, our opportunity is to hold up the diversity of each person as though it were a candle, making the spaces everywhere around us shine more brightly.

This is my hope for you, for your loved ones and for Goodwin House. May your unique light and the unique lights around you shine ever so bright throughout 2021!

___________________________

Robert “Rob” Liebreich was appointed President and CEO of Goodwin House Incorporated in May 2019. His energy, compassion and creative drive, as well as his proven leadership in senior living, set him apart during a competitive six-month national search for the new Goodwin House CEO. Prior to joining Goodwin House, Rob was the executive director of the Asbury Methodist Village (AMV), a not-for-profit continuing care retirement community in Gaithersburg, MD. He has also held senior positions in marketing and operations for senior living organizations in the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area and the Pacific Northwest. Rob studied Business Administration and International Business and Marketing at Georgetown University, and holds a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Senior Care and Housing from Johns Hopkins University.

About the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) Committee: We are a group of staff and residents who together serve a mission to educate, embrace and empower a workplace of diversity, equality and inclusion. Our vision is to seek open and honest communication and collaboration that will inform and celebrate the cultural, ethnic and sexual orientation of all members of our staff without bias.

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