Letters: Alliance Network & National Action Network Salute SUNY Administrator, Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD

“Thank You” Comes with Slap at Previous SUNY Administrators and Broken Promises

Dr. Laraque-Arena has led SUNY Upstate Medical University with integrity, focusing on tightening of internal controls, continuous improvement, and adherence to policy, procedures and ethics. She has grounded her work in the application of the highest scientific standards to address the leading causes of illness and death for the population of Central New York as well as expansion of primary care and a focus on wellness. This has necessarily focused on an inclusive and diverse workforce and student body to address the needs of a diverse population. She has spoken loudly for the university to be accountable to all communities and nations in the improvement of health access and outcomes.

Upstate University Hospital

She has partnered with community leaders to obtain data and resources to address the most troubling health crises and trauma. Her integrity is beyond reproach. This community stands beside her and thanks her for her amazing contributions over the past three years. In the wake of her announcement that she will step down at the end of December, we are committed to seeing that her vision for Central New York and Upstate Medical University is carried forth. Her leadership in co-chairing the REDC is notable and REDC’s strong focus on inclusion as represented by the Alliance for Economic Inclusion is essential to moving Syracuse and CNY forward and alleviating the crushing poverty and violence through sustainable community development and economic equity.

We wholly believe in the vision the Dr Laraque-Arena set forth especially bringing the SUNY Upstate vision to community in a more collaborative spirit! Her work with local organizations and agencies was to directly impact health issues affecting black and brown patients, visitors and potential employees. Aimed at changing the Upstate experience her leadership focused on diversity and inclusion, employment Issues, trauma in our Community and the treatment of families after a critical incident. Dr. Laraque-Arena was beginning to establish a clear pathway for Upstate to partner with community non-profits in a way that has never been achieved by any other SUNY Upstate President in the black and brown community. Under her leadership our community began to “trust” that our issues had been heard and we felt confident that our issues would be addressed.

It is admirable for anyone or any institution to take on black and brown Community Health Issues and to address the chronic health issues affecting the community. It is also forward thinking to work with youth to increase careers pathways in medicine for black and brown youth.

Dr. Laraque-Arena has been consistent with ensuring greater access for residents in 13202, 13204 and 13205 zip codes to gain access to Community Health Workers, to engage them in free hospital programs and to work with our elderly and our youth in growing fresh vegetables.

Dr. Laraque Arena’s leadership had us on our way to re-establishing a “trusting” relationship with SUNY Upstate. Especially after the gentrification of the Kennedy Square! Some of those elders are still experiencing a hardship due to the lack of resources put forth to ensure they would be able to return to the neighborhood. We still remember the empty promise that Upstate made leading the community to believe the redevelopment of mixed use housing on portions of the Kennedy Square would occur.

We support Dr. Laraque-Arena for her bold insight and for her leadership! We stand beside her and thank her for her contributions to our community and the entire county over the past three years!

Twiggy Billue
National Action Network Syracuse Chapter

Walter Dixie
Alliance Network