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• Feb 21, 2020

Keynote speaker cites role of 'zip code' in determining overall health

TD Bank's Second Annual Black History Month Summit keynote speaker Leslie Marant left the crowd of more than 1,000 with one important takeaway.

"Take your privilege and also leverage my privilege," said Leslie, who is Chief Counsel at the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. "If we are intertwined together, that's how we will make a difference."

The event was held in Mount Laurel, New Jersey on February 19. Colleagues could attend live or view via simulcast in Canada and TD's U.S. footprint.

Leslie's speech focused on health and wellness, the topic of the event, and sharing her own personal story. When she had her own health issues, including high blood pressure and asthma, she changed her life. But it wasn't easy. At first, the former high school track star had trouble completing a quarter-mile. But she soon began to regain her love for running and became an ambassador for the Philadelphia chapter of Black Girls RUN!, an organization to encourage African American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. She also became a fitness trainer.

She noted that while individual responsibility is often preached as the solution to improving health, in fact, the most important predictor of health outcomes is a person's income and the systematic issues that impact health beyond income.

"We can tell people to take a walk, but a lot depends on the neighborhood where you live. There are a lot of neighborhoods without walkable streets," she said. "Those factors impact all of us. I want you to leave thinking that health is a matter of right. We want to create environments and community to take care of everyone."

Diversity & Inclusion is a journey that won't happen all at once

The event was kicked off by Girish Ganesan, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, TD Bank Group, and Head of Talent, TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank ®. He spoke of the Bank's strength in Diversity & Inclusion over the last decade, putting it on the "right path."

But he noted there was still more work to be done. Girish spoke about the Bank's new strategy going forward that would focus on colleagues, customers and the communities we serve.

"D&I is a journey, it won't happen all at once, it will take all of us to develop an inclusive culture," he said.

Two panel discussions were held on wealth and health, respectively, with leaders from the Bank on those topics. Rodney Adams, TD Senior Manager Store Strategy & Transform, spoke about his experience as a foster parent and how the two young men he took in transformed when provided with a secure and nurturing home.

TD Bank CEO and President Greg Braca told the crowd how the Bank's many events for Black History Month was a strong reflection of "who we are."

"It's part of our DNA," he said. "D&I is so important to TD. We need to ensure that we provide a diverse and inclusive environment. There is no greater calling for our Management Committee."

Shelley Sylva, TD's Head of Social Impact, spoke about how TD Bank supports organizations that strive to make the world a better place as she presented a TD Community Leadership Award to Turning Points for Children, an organization that serves youths and families in Philadelphia. Kelvin Tran, TD Bank's Chief Financial Officer and Management Committee Sponsor for Minorities in Leadership, closed out the event and spoke about how the Bank has made D&I an important priority.

The afternoon was packed with so many insightful discussions and presentations, it left the audience with a lot to consider on these critical issues that were addressed.

"It taught me that it's not just about enriching the communities we live in, but educating yourself, knowing your professional currency and implementing new ideas to those around you," said Tyana Talley, TD Digital Media Specialist. "This year’s topics, health and wealth, are things we give the most effort and get minimal results. Take a second to do something for you and create your own therapy as our keynote speaker, Leslie, would say, will save your life."

Want to learn more about Diversity & Inclusion?
Juneteenth: A Bold Conversation About Family, History, and Hope
Leading the Way: TD Bank’s Remarkable 2024 Diversity Recognitions
Autism: Listening to the Voices of the Community and Allies

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