By Jessica Mathews /

A new partnership aims to advance diversity and inclusion in Livingston County.

The Livingston Diversity Council has announced a formal partnership with St. Joseph Mercy Livingston. Council President Nicole Matthews-Creech said for the better part of a year, the two have been having conversations about how a mutually beneficial partnership could be formed.
She says with the support from St. Joe’s, the Council will be able to elevate its work within the county to make real, sustainable change.

The partnership will enable an alliance with shared board members, educational opportunities, and collaborative learning. It will also put the Council one step closer to being able to fund a staffed position to lead and coordinate the Council. Matthews-Creech says the much-needed financial support from St. Joe’s will support the work, programs, initiatives, and time dedicated by the Council within schools, various action committees, and initiatives to create more awareness and understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access across the local community.

“Livingston Diversity Council is excited to partner with St. Joe’s,” said Matthews-Creech. “With the support from St. Joe’s, our council will be able to elevate our work within the county to make real, sustainable change.”

Matthews-Creech noted St. Joe’s already has an impressive diversity and inclusion council within their health system to address how diversity, equity, and inclusion are prioritized within the inner-workings of hospitals - not only with service delivery to patients but also related to organizational policies, procedures and employees. It was launched in 2020 in an effort to develop and implement strategies, feedback and guidance on goals, priorities, strategic opportunities and operational challenges pertaining to diversity and inclusion.

“As a mission-based organization, diversity and inclusion are very important to us,” said John O’Malley, president of St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and Brighton. “Our collaboration with Livingston Diversity Council will enable our organizations to share ideas, best practices, offer education to our colleagues and highlight the need for diversity and inclusion efforts in our local community.”

Matthews-Creech told WHMI the great benefit to the Diversity Council, which then extends to the greater Livingston County area, is seeing a community pillar-like St. Joe’s making this a priority. She says the Council will be able to work together with St. Joe’s and provide support through their diversity and inclusion efforts to set the tone for perhaps opportunities that other businesses and organizations can look at for new potential partnerships. Matthews-Creech commented further that diversity in businesses brings about richness, new ideas, and a global understanding of how to compete with other businesses.

Matthews-Creech said she thinks these partnerships and work have always been needed but now there’s more awareness of the actual work that needs to be done. She added that now they have a platform, some partnerships, and support to address issues the way they need to be addressed.

With Livingston County’s history, Matthews-Creech said everybody is a little tenuous about jumping on and figuring out where their business or organizations fits with the work with diversity, equity, and inclusion. She said especially with Livingston being as homogenous of a community it is, it’s oftentimes hard to figure out a place in that work and St. Joe’s paving the way for that makes room for others to follow suit. Matthews-Creech says St. Joe’s has rolled out some employee surveys to see how they can better support their employees, how their employees are represented, and how they feel they’re represented within the health system - really creating an environment where people really feel safe and feel safe to ask for what they need.