Taking BOLD Strides to Support Inclusion and Belonging
A place for Black employees to connect and share their experiences, BOLD helps build community at Interwell Health.
When Pamela Smith joined BOLD (Black Originators Doers and Leaders), she was searching for a community that could help her thrive as a Black employee at Interwell Health.
She found much more.
“BOLD is a place for me to be my true, authentic self,” said Smith, a senior instructional designer who is now membership chair for the group. “It provided me with an opportunity to meet other Black coworkers I wouldn’t have met otherwise. We’ve created an environment where members know they can lean on each other and find support.
A BOLD Idea
Founded in 2023, BOLD is an employee resource group (ERG) that aims to create an inclusive environment where members feel valued and connected.
“We knew we wanted to bring a sense of community and provide a safe space,” said Toya West, applications support specialist and BOLD co-chair. “Since the beginning, our leadership team has brought passion and collaboration to this mission.”
ERGs like BOLD are integral to Interwell’s Corporate Social Responsibility platform, which offers a unifying vision for building a sustainable and equitable future within our organization and the communities we serve.
“That was the moment I realized we’ve created a real community by us, for us.”
By us, for us
Besides being a professional support network, BOLD also serves as a personal one. When three Black people were fatally shot in a racially motivated attack in Jacksonville, FL, the group organized a virtual forum to provide employees with a place to openly discuss the tragedy.
“It was an emotional time,” explained Brea Thomas, an employee experience specialist and BOLD communications chair. “We created a place for individuals who felt unsafe – everyone got a chance to speak up and come together as Black individuals to heal. Even our executive sponsors shared their personal experiences. That was the moment I realized we’ve created a real community by us, for us.”
Richelle Brown, a renal service coordinator and events chair and mentoring and education committee lead for the group, appreciated the opportunity to have these conversations and delve thoroughly into issues. “BOLD inspires us to be the best versions of ourselves. By educating ourselves about the struggles we’ve faced, we become a part of the movement that shapes our future.”
Meetings, newsletters, and a book club
About 60 employees are active members or allies of BOLD. The group holds meetings and regular activities for members to meet and connect with each other. Updates are shared via a quarterly newsletter called the Black Print.
BOLD also hosts a book club to explore the works of Black authors across genres, from sci-fi, to history, to fantasy. They’re currently reading Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the second book in Tomi Adeyemi’s Legacy of Orisha series. “People come to BOLD with a strong desire to learn,” said Andrea Faulkner, CKD nurse and former BOLD co-chair. “Our goal is to deliver an experience where people can develop and grow.”
Celebrating Black History Month
This February, BOLD will recognize Black History Month with a series of events and programs celebrating and honoring Black Americans in the arts.
“We have a lineup of events to celebrate how we’ve contributed to the arts – whether that’s through writing, fashion, dance, culinary arts…we’re going to celebrate it all,” Thomas said. “We want to highlight Black voices and bring joy. We’re a resilient community, and our Black History Month initiatives reflect that.”