On March 15th Anthony Poore and Dr. Marie Ramas addressed the Rotary Club of Nashua regarding Black Lives: Meet New Hampshire’s Past, Present and Future leaders. In his 30 years of experience in the community economic development sector, Anthony has worked as a community organizer, economic development practitioner, academic, workforce housing and public health advocate, policy analyst, researcher and executive addressing the needs of New Hampshire’s urban and rural communities through participatory cross sector collaborative processes in support of sustainable, inclusive, and equitable communities. 
In addition, he supports and facilitates traditional and non-traditional financial institutions and community-based organizations, helping them identify and develop mutually beneficial public-private community economic development projects that leverage internal and external resources for maximum impact, particularly in support of those communities who have been historically underrepresented and underserved.
 
In his three years as executive director of New Hampshire Humanities, a National Endowment for the Humanities funded state affiliate, NHH gained recognition as a center of humanities excellence, known for its accessible, innovative, and inclusive programming, effective and efficient allocation of resources, cross sector collaborative partnerships, and strong financial performance.  
 
Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire Finance Authority, New Hampshire Endowment for Health, and the Currier Museum of Art and resides in Manchester with his two amazing (almost grown) daughters and dog, Ali Poore. 
 
Dr. Marie Ramas is a family physician activist with a decade of experience practicing full scope family medicine with obstetrics in both rural and urban settings. Raised in New Hampshire, she returned in 2016 to practice medicine in Nashua and currently is medical director for GateHouse Treatment Center and Regional Medical Director for Aledade Inc.
 
Dr. Ramas is an avid advocate for high quality, affordable care for all, focusing on how disparities interface between the patient wellness experience and public health. She began her career in organized medicine as the New Physician member on the National Board of Directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and currently serves as the National Convener of the AAFP National Conference of Constituency Leaders. Locally, she is President-elect of the NH Academy of Family Physicians and a member of the NH Medical Society Council. She serves on the Board of the NH Endowment for Health, the NH State Health Assessment Advisory Council, the Healthcare Voices of NH Advisory Board, and she is a member of the Leadership New Hampshire Class of 2021.
 
She is a contributor to both local and national media outlets, including The AAFP Leader Voices Blog. Most recently, she co-founded The Lighthouse NH social media page to help address health and wellness concerns for NH Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities.  
 
Anthony began their presentation with information about the “Old Heads,” the African Americans whose history in NH dates back to the late 1700s. 
 
More than 300 years, African people and their descendants have been part of NH History. In the 20th Century, the Great Northward Migration of the 1920s brought more to New Hampshire. Around World War II, much of that in migration was centered around war-related commerce including Portsmouth and Manchester’s Grenier Airforce Base. Among those was Inez Bishop, who came to Manchester from Alabama with her husband Frank. Inez was a founding member of the Manchester NAACP.
 
Anthony then moved on to the “Bridge Generation.”
Harvey Keye was profiled by Ebony Magazine in 1984. A two-term State Representative, Harvey was the first person of color to be hired as a salesman for Colgate Palmolive. Woullard and Belinda Lett came from Chicago, and soon began to build the social capital and collective consciousness of the African American community in Manchester. Eddie Edwards came from Atlanta. He is a small business owner, a former police chief, a former Congressional and State Senate candidate, and was recently confirmed as the Assistant Commissioner of the NH Department of Safety.
 
Finally, Anthony moved on to “Today’s Change Agents,” starting with Jada Keye Hebra, daughter of Harvey Keye, who is Senior VP and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for SNHU, who believes that African Americans “still need to prove [themselves].” Sudi Lett, who came to NH with his parents, was a prolific reader who was automatically placed into a remedial reading program in Manchester because he was African American. At the time, there were 8-10 African Americans in the school. Once asked to kneel before a teacher and refusing, he ultimately became Central High’s first AA Student Government President. As an adult, Sudi is deeply involved in student athlete programs across the state.
 
Our second speaker, Dr. Marie Ramas, exemplifies “Today’s Change Agents.” Marie is a first generation American who moved to NH from Dorchester as a child. , Dr. Ramas believes that the diversity in our state makes us stronger. She spoke directly to what we as Rotarians can do to recognize, support and celebrate our diversity. As Rotarians, we’re dedicated to our community’s growth. She encouraged us to take an “equity walk” around Nashua. How does what we see as we move around reflect the reality of Nashua’s diverse populations? She noted that while NH is a little more than 90% white, more than a quarter of Nashua is non-white (27.4%).
 
Dr. Ramas used the analogy of climbing a mountain. She and her husband moved from a very remote town near Mt. Shasta in California’s Cascade Range to come back to NH; climbing that mountain reminds her that our journey may seem steep and hard, but we can do it if we stay linked together and focused on the summit.
 
She concluded with comments on medical inequity across the state, from the North Country to the seacoast to Keene to Nashua. Of particular concern is the current attrition of primary care out of Nashua, combined with reduced clinical hours and limited autonomy, which leads to poor morale. Yet primary care is the best way to create healthy (and more economically viable) populations. What does that mean for Nashua? Most of what impacts health happens outside the doctor’s office, and that’s where Rotary lives, eats, works and plays. A “values-based community” is the goal. Action steps include educating our employees, fellow Rotary members and our circles of influence regarding implicit bias, encouraging diversity in our upper management, reassessing our hiring practices, and increasing paid work with black and brown businesses.
 
Anthony concluded the program with brief remarks about what the future holds for NH. The black and brown populations in Manchester and Nashua are 15% of state’s total population but over 50% of the black and brown populations. As these populations grow, so will their influence on our communities and state. Anthony mentioned that he works closely with Sarah Marchant, an important connection as Nashua looks to the future (Imagine Nashua project)
 
Anthony will share his presentation PDF with Rotary, and those with questions of comments for Dr. Ramas are encouraged to reach out via email to marieramas.md@gmail.com.
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