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Podcast: Dr. Dean on Health Equity, Economic Justice & Community Wealth Building

“What am I doing to enfranchise people or how am I participating in their disenfranchisement?" That question, posed by this week’s guest, Dr. Marla Dean, to all of us, stopped me in my tracks mid-interview. It has guided her own life and career, first as an educator in troubled and under-resourced schools and then as CEO of Bright Beginnings, a celebrated nonprofit in Washington, DC, that provides childcare and early education services to children and families experiencing homelessness. When I first interviewed Marla in August of 2021, she was deep in the trenches of helping vulnerable families survive an unprecedented pandemic. She powered through but knew she needed to heal, regroup, and continue her commitment to economic mobility from another venue. Now, two years later, Marla introduces us to her new role, leading the Health Equity Fund, a demonstration project launched by the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the region’s largest philanthropy. The Fund supports highly effective community-based organizations and invests in policy advocacy, systems change in ways that are innovative and disruptive. With GWCF President Tonia Wellons, Marla is pushing philanthropic boundaries to empower nonprofits and re-enfranchise communities. Marla was raised to be an advocate and it shows.


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