Community Action Lehigh Valley proudly welcomes our newest team member, Winslow Mason Jr., as the Racial and Ethnic Justice Director. A lifetime advocate with diverse experiences, Winslow is poised to elevate the agency’s commitment to social justice. We sat down with Winslow to gain insight into his vision, strategies, and the passion fueling his dedication to educational equity and social justice.
A Journey to Advocacy
Winslow’s connection to racial and ethnic justice isn’t a recent endeavor; it's been the narrative of his life. From his days as a journalist to his roles as a community organizer and an organizational development practitioner, Winslow’s career has been intensely focused on righting wrongs and advocating for the marginalized.
Reflecting on the confluence of poverty and racial injustice, Winslow articulates, “Poverty is a direct result of inequitable systems that allow one group to benefit from resources more than others. It's less of an intersection and more a cause and effect. Ending poverty means leveling the playing field, so everyone is given their fair share of resources, regardless of race."
His personal journey, one augmented by similar transformative programs, heavily influences his professional outlook. Winslow believes in the transformative power of Community Action’s programming, viewing it as lifelines for families trapped in the cycle of poverty.
A Vision Rooted in Change
Winslow’s aspiration for Community Action’s Racial and Ethnic Justice program is ambitious: "I envision it becoming a national example of how harnessing the right resources to the right programs to reduce systemic inequity can not only change lives, but change communities and change the future in the process.”
His strategy consists of a dual-pronged approach centered on data harnessing and the celebration of every triumph, big or small. Winslow stresses the importance of effectively communicating the program's impact, saying, "We need to promote impact better than we ever have, so that people can see the value of our programs.”
Underpinning this campaign is a central theme - reducing racial and ethnic disparities. For Winslow, success is measurable and is achieved when there's discernible progress over time.
Infusing Fresh Energy into Color Outside The Lines
Color Outside the Lines (COTL) is a 5-to 7-year initiative which promotes diversity, equity and inclusion through training and workshops throughout the Lehigh Valley community. We partner with local agencies to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the areas of criminal justice, education, economic opportunity and employment, health, mental health, housing, recreation and arts and culture. Winslow’s enthusiasm is palpable as he discusses his role, "I'm excited to breathe new energy into COTL. I strive to get to a point where we are receiving the most justice funding in Pennsylvania and that we are the program talked about most.”
His innovative vision includes the introduction of Racial Healing Circles, a pioneering approach by the Kellogg Foundation to confront and counteract racial biases. He believes this initiative will foster introspection and actionable change.
A key aspect of his leadership will be rooted in listening. By paying heed to those most affected and communicating with changemakers directly, Winslow aims to bolster the COTL program while respecting its foundational tenets.
Building and strengthening relationships is Winslow’s strategy for fostering community engagement. He emphasizes the power of storytelling to bring to the forefront the voices of those who have faced racial and ethnic injustice. For him, these narratives form the heart of Community Action’s program.
Metrics, Challenges, and Reflections
Winslow’s approach to evaluating the program's success hinges on key performance indicators like program enrollment, completion rates, and scholarships. He eagerly awaits the publication of an article on Jerry Rivera, a Generation Next program graduate who was accepted into Princeton University, seeing it as a potential touchstone for measuring impact. Generation Next is Community Action’s college readiness, access, and completion program created to correct disparities in education by assisting youth in the college process, as well as entering a vocational or trade school. We currently partner with four schools throughout the Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton Area School Districts. Acknowledging the challenges posed by growing narratives against Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and other racial justice programs, he champions the power of these success stories as compelling counternarratives.
By the end of his first year, Winslow envisions a fully operational SHE and Generation Next program, complemented by a rejuvenated COTL initiative rolled out in collaboration with strategic partners. Community Action’s SHE program offers after-school sessions for 4th-8th grade girls, fostering the growth of life skills and bolstering self-esteem, health, and education. As the backdrop of racial justice remains emotionally charged, Winslow grounds himself in the vision of an equitable world, guiding his team with the same compass.
Join us in welcoming Winslow Mason, a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion, helping to guide Community Action Lehigh Valley towards a brighter, more equitable future.
Community Action improves the quality of life in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas by building communities in which all people have access to economic opportunity, the ability to pursue that opportunity, and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. Offering programs and services in advocacy, business start-up and development, food access and nutrition, housing, neighborhood revitalization, and youth, Community Action is the largest anti-poverty nonprofit organization in the region. To stay informed on upcoming community events, volunteer opportunities, and to learn more about our programs, visit communityactionlv.org or follow @communityactionlv.