Community members are angry over what they are calling unjust treatment of Gigi Crowder, who is being terminated from her job after serving the African American and other ethnic communities as the Ethnic Services Manager of Alameda County Behavioral Health for nearly 10 years.
Crowder has worked in Behavioral Health for 13 years and is well known in Alameda County as a champion and pioneer in integrating the African American faith community and the health care community.
Crowder was told that she was put on a 30-day administrative leave on Aug. 29, four days after being honored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the largest mental health organization in the country, for her work with multicultural populations.
The explanation she was given was that the department was going in a different direction.
In a two-page letter sent to the interim director of Alameda County Health Care Agency, a coalition of more than 20 African American local faith leaders called Crowder’s termination racially motivated and intended to abort the work done by Crowder and others to achieve equity for people of color and specifically Black people.
The Berkeley NAACP also wrote a letter, which states that her dismissal smacks of retaliation and unfair employment practices.
“We are demanding that Ms. Crowder’s administrative leave be (reversed) and that she is returned to her full duties,” the letter said. “The Berkeley branch of the NAACP supports Ms. Crowder, and we are currently in contact with other local NAACP branches and community groups within Alameda County.”
Earlier this year, Crowder was told that she would have to reapply for the position she had held provisionally for over nine years. She has been reprimanded in the past after she spoke up about what she felt were injustices and discriminatory practices within the department and lack of culturally responsive services for African Americans.
Her role as Ethnic Service Manager is charged with ad- dressing inequities, disparities and discrimination within the behavioral health system.
Crowder was inducted into Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002.
A coalition of Bay Area faith leaders is calling on people to attend the next meeting of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 10 a.m. at 1221 Oak St. (fifth floor) in Oakland.