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Heal the Heart

City Launches Heal the Heart of Tacoma, a Community-Led Effort to Transform Tacoma Into an Anti-Racist City


Heal the Heart logoHeal the Heart of Tacoma, established by Mayor Victoria Woodards and the Tacoma City Council in October 2020, is grounded in Resolution 40622. It aims to spark long term change that strengthens and heals communities, provide the foundation necessary to achieve greater equity in service delivery, and increase trust in local institutions.

Heal the Heart of Tacoma will be community-led, and invites local organizations to bring their unique resources and subject matter expertise to the table as they work with the community to transform Tacoma into an anti-racist city.

Heal the Heart of Tacoma will call on government and other institutions to:

  • Acknowledge the harm done by long-standing systems and institutions.
  • Cultivate a deeper understanding of those harms by listening to the community and creating a local record of past and present impacts on individuals, families and the community as a whole.
  • Repair the harm done by taking steps to reduce impacts and prevent repeated harms.
  • Transform systems by making concrete changes in collaboration with communities most impacted.

“As the City Council and I called out in Resolution 40622, the community outcry for change goes far beyond policing alone. We must also address the violence of poverty, widespread disparities in health and housing, and barriers to opportunity of all kinds. Given time and our support, I believe the community has the wisdom and ability to lead all of Tacoma to true transformational change.”

- Mayor Victoria Woodards

Heal the Heart of Tacoma will require sustained work on intergenerational issues of racism and conversations on emotionally and technically difficult topics. As a member of the Core Coordinating Team, you should have some foundational knowledge in issues of race and equity and be able to connect with others on work that includes a high degree of ambiguity and uncertainty to bridge differences and disagreements while remaining authentic.


Who should apply?

Prospective members will be considered by the Council’s Community Vitality and Safety Committee on the basis of their individual perspectives as well as the collective demographics of the group as a whole. 

America’s troubled history of anti-Blackness, as well as the diversity of generational perspectives and intersectional experiences including socio-economic differences, will all be considered in the Council confirmation and appointment process.

If appointed by Council to serve as a member of the Core Coordinating Team, you will have access to facilitation support and other resources, and connect with key leaders and organizations throughout the community.

Ultimately, the Core Coordinating Team will reflect the Mayor and Council’s goal of centering the voices of those most impacted/harmed by systemic racism.

The initial Core Coordinating Team will have 13 Council-appointed members, approximately half of whom should be Black. Asian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous and Latinx perspectives are also desired. Other desired perspectives include:

  • Advocacy/activist
  • Youth
  • Those with formal knowledge of rights violations (Human Rights Commission-nominated)
  • Minority business/entrepreneurship
  • Intersectional - LGBTQ+
  • Intersectional - Disability
  • Intersectional - Immigrant experience/English as a Second Language (ESL) (Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs-nominated)
  • Intersectional - Faith (with active experience in equity/social justice work)
  • Allied across business (broad network connectivity)
  • Allied across non-profit services (broad network connectivity)

What skills are needed?

The Core Coordinating team will have an advisory role while also serving as a working group. To accommodate these needs, the body as a whole will include individuals with a broad variety of skills. While additional positions may be added as other needs emerge, members should:

  • Think critically and have the capacity for radical imagination
    Transformation involves going into uncharted waters, beyond what is already known and what has already been done before, and creating sustainable new systems.
  • Have a lived experience of racism
    While significant community engagement will be a part of this effort, decentering whiteness and allowing those who have experienced the harms of systemic racism to lead must be a priority in this work.
  • Represent all Council districts in Tacom
    Core Coordinating Team members as a whole should represent geographic diversity and come from all City Council districts in Tacoma.
  • Be able to communicate and engage with the community effectively
    Core Coordinating Team members as a whole should have the ability and willingness to mobilize either traditional or informal/social communications networks that can share messages and information on systems transformation work with a diverse cross-section of audiences in Tacoma. They must also have the skills and experience to inform the engagement work for a community-led systems transformation.
  • Have knowledge of community organizing
    Core Coordinating Team members as a whole should have the ability and willingness to work across differences and strategically engage, organize, mobilize, and educate people, building a strong sense of community and momentum around systems change.
  • Have community linkages
    Because this team is intended to align its efforts with work already underway in smaller scale collaborations or at various levels of government, it gains value from members who can serve as a link to existing efforts.
  • Have knowledge of project planning, work management and/or facilitation
    Core Coordinating Team members as a whole should be able to strategically organize and consistently follow through on work in a way that forwards long-term vision of systems change. Some team members should have the ability, desire, and availability necessary to chair a Transformation Team.
  • Have knowledge of community resourcing
    Members should have the ability and willingness to mobilize network of connections for purposes of resourcing (through financing, professional services, in-kind support, etc.) or other components of systems change work.

Team Responsibilities

While working to engineer and align processes, people and power for community-led, anti-racist systems transformation, the Core Coordinating Team is responsible for:

  • Building and executing an authentically community-led process to identify priorities for anti-racist systems transformation in Tacoma
  • Incorporating reconciliation work, such as the model that has been defined and refined by the National Network for Safe Communities, to authentically acknowledge the past and present harms of systemic racism and bring the kind of true change that allows communities to be strengthened, served with greater equity and ultimately experience healing
  • Determining a method for selecting members of transformation teams from across Tacoma to conduct systems transformation/change work in priority areas set by community members of color
  • Participating in community organizing, community relations, and community resourcing efforts that build the network of participants actively engaged in addressing systemic racism
  • Helping transformation teams connect to the right partners, resources and subject matter experts as Tacoma moves toward desired anti-racist systems transformation

It is anticipated that the Core Coordinating Team will meet every one to two weeks through an initial start-up period (likely March 2021) with regular monthly meetings thereafter.

Community partner liaisons will include, from the City of Tacoma, one Council Member and an alternate assigned as policy liaisons to listen and learn from the conversations, report back to Council, and link to resources and information from the City at the request of the Core Coordinating Team.



Melanie Harding
(253) 591-5156