Dr. Yanique Redwood, a values-driven and innovative leader with decades of combined experience in racial equity, community-based participatory research and philanthropy, will be joining The Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. The Center was founded in 2020 by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, one of America’s foremost antiracist scholars and the author of several books, including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.
“Dr. Redwood is an exceptional and committed leader, manager, visionary, and fighter for racial justice. And she’s a warm human being,” says Dr. Kendi. “I couldn’t be more delighted that she has joined us, that she will lead us.”
Dr. Redwood, who holds a doctorate in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, was selected by the Center’s leadership following a national search. She will serve as the Center’s first Executive Director. She will be charged with providing holistic, high-level oversight and leadership to the entire Center staff, while providing strategic and fiduciary advice to the Director to foster alignment and fidelity across the Center’s growing work.
“The possibilities for our work and impact seem infinite with Dr. Redwood leading us–possessing a rare combination of experience as a scientist, advocate, and visionary leader for racial justice,” Professor Sanaz Mobasseri, Associate Director for the Antiracist Tech Initiative, says.
Dr. Redwood’s scholarship and practice has focused on the role of racism in determining the health and social outcomes of Black people and other people of the global majority. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including Health Education and Behavior, Journal of Family and Community Health, Health Education Research, Journal of the National Medical Association and Foundation Review. She has published op-eds in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and has provided expert testimony on racial equity before the Council of the District of Columbia. Dr. Redwood is a health researcher by training and spent two years as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, after more than two decades of antiracism praxis, Dr. Redwood believes that antiracism is the cure.
“The historical accounting is clear. Something is very wrong with our society and the way in which it distributes by race the essentials for thriving,” said Dr. Redwood. “It can’t be that something is wrong with so many population groups who fall at the bottom on almost all the major health and social indicators. It’s time we dismantle the racist systems that keep producing the same disastrous outcomes and build new ones that work for all people, starting with what works for Black people and people of the global majority.”
For nearly a decade, Dr. Redwood served as the President and CEO of if, a Foundation for Radical Possibility in Washington, DC. She was the second CEO in the foundation’s 27-year history, leading the organization through strategic shifts including the most recent shift from a focus on health to a focus on racial justice. With Dr. Redwood’s leadership, the organization established new program areas—community power, culture, reparations and economic justice, institutions and structures, and healing justice.
Dr. Redwood and if previously teamed up with the Center to apply antiracist criteria to DC housing policies. Dr. Redwood and Temi F. Bennett, Esq., if’s Director of Policy, approached Dr. Kendi with their policy rating idea after reading his #1 New York Times Bestseller, How To Be an Antiracist.
“The idea we had was to rate policies as either racist or antiracist. We loved Dr. Kendi’s frame. There is no gray area,” says Ms. Bennett. “We hope the forthcoming ratings will serve as a guide for policymakers and a tool for advocates on the ground who are fighting for more just and equitable systems.”
if’s Board chair Wendy Chun-Hoon says, “This is a bittersweet moment for us. Dr. Redwood’s departure is a loss for the foundation and the Greater Washington region, and yet a win for the national movement for racial justice.”
Amongst other responsibilities as the Executive Director, Dr. Redwood will serve as the chief communicator between the Center’s leadership and the staff and will be tasked with developing strong linkages and relationships within the Boston University community. In addition, Dr. Redwood will help grow a supportive and productive culture within the Center that nurtures esprit and solidarity across the growing staff.
Rachael DeCruz, Associate Director of Advocacy, says, “Dr. Redwood has a strong track record of translating antiracist values into concrete policies and practices. I am so grateful that she is bringing her considerable expertise and passion to the Center at this important moment in history.”