Video transcript : Podcast Episode 3: Team Rubicon’s Mission to Increase Vaccine Equity

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Dr. O: Welcome to Equal & Able, which is in partnership with Guardian life. I am Dr. Feranmi Okanlami, your host, but you can call me Dr. O. I use he, him pronouns. And I'm a Nigerian born young to middle aged black man with brown skin and short hair. I identify as a cisgender heterosexual male wheelchair user. I'm an advocate for people with disabilities, a speaker, Christian, father, and a physician dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion. Our hope is to engage in challenging conversations that push us all to do what we can within our own spheres of influence, in order to ensure everyone's tomorrow is better than their yesterday. I'd like to introduce our guest today, Art delaCruz, Team Rubicon, President and Chief Operating Officer, and a retired naval officer.

Dr. O: Art. Thank you for joining us and tell us a bit about your journey and what led you to Team Rubicon.

Art: Well, thanks for having me here. Dr. O. It's a real privilege to be here. And my journey was, I guess, a bit of a roundabout journey. I grew up in Minnesota. My parents were immigrants from the Philippines. So of course, I learned to play hockey in hockey would take me to my first journey, which would take me to the University of Minnesota, where I wasn't good enough to play. And after about four strides on the ice there and an understanding that a real passion in my life wasn't going to happen. I went to the United States Naval Academy, so transferred in my second year of school. And that took me on this rich journey in the Navy, where I was able to spend 22 years flying Navy aircraft off of aircraft carriers, and retired in 2013, with four kids and my wife.  And we made the decision that it was time for our next step in life. And I went into private industry. And it didn't take long for me to, you know, spend my time in private industry where I found that a little something was missing, you know, some of the opportunities, the people, the camaraderie, you know, these muscles that I built up in the military, I wasn't able to use them. And that is what brought me to Team Rubicon. I was approached by the co founder and current CEO, Jake Wood, who said, you know, to me, and my wife, hey Art, you know, we're trying to grow this organization, we've got a vision to have greater impact across the country to help people, you know, impacted by natural disasters and humanitarian crises. And I have been here, you know, smiling and growing and enjoying what I'm doing for the past five and a half years.

Dr. O : Well, as a former washed up athlete, myself, I will say Minnesota wasn't good enough to have you, it wasn't that you weren't good enough for them. So, you know, we the NCAA always talked about how all of our athletes are going to go professional at something other than sports. So I think that where you found yourself is the exact place where you were meant to be?

Art: Well, I really appreciate that.

Dr. O: Absolutely.  Do you still engage in recreational hockey playing at all?

Art: You know, I do. And actually, you know, I was just speaking to some of my teammates, I've actually been in a hockey league every year since the age of five. And if they weren't able to put up the hockey league this year, in 2021, it would have broken my streak of now 48 years. But fortunately, we start pack up in July. So I'll keep the streak alive.

Dr. O: Nice. Nice. That's awesome. Well, not to digress too much. But most people know, I'm a sports aficionado, myself. And so I'd love to talk about sports at any time. But, back to Team Rubicon. You know, as a veteran organization, you know, the majority of your volunteers are made up of veterans who were trained to respond to disasters. You know, tell us a bit more about what you do and what happens when a disaster actually strikes. Because I don't think that our listeners will fully understand the impact of the work that you're doing.

Art: Sure, so why don't I start with, you know, a brief description of Team Rubicon. So we're, we're a nonprofit. And our goal is to mobilize military veterans to be able to help communities prepare, respond and recover from natural disasters and humanitarian crises. And I think, you know, you starting out with, you know, this analogy of sports in some way disaster response, you know, has analogies.  You have to be able to bring together a team, and you have to be able to bring together skills and experience and, you know, the ability to do these different things in the wake of a natural disaster. So what happens with Team Rubicon, is it's just like a sports team. You know, we spend time practicing before the disaster strikes. You know, we find the athletes and then when the disaster hits, our job is to get the team on the field as quickly as possible. So what we do is, we've grown, you know, from eight people 11 years ago to over 145,000 volunteers, they're spread all over the country and went into to set disaster strikes, we're able to generally get our volunteers out there to understand what has happened. Those volunteers figure out whether or not we have the resources and the capabilities that our community needs. And if you know, those two criteria are met, we'll begin, you know, trying to help people by delivering different types of services. You know, if it's a hurricane, we might be removing debris or mucking out a house that's been flooded, if it's a tornado, you know, we might tarp a roof or, or, you know, cut down trees that are blocking roadways, you know, if it's, if it's a fire, you know, we might be involved after the fire in, you know, sifting operations or before the fire and mitigation. But, you know, essentially, it's the community understanding, you know, before the disaster strikes, what could happen, when the disaster strikes, understanding what type of, you know, things that community needs from a services standpoint, and then as that disaster and the healing process starts, being able to bring people in equipment and capabilities and process to deliver services that allow people to recover from these disasters. And we've done that, you know, across the country, all the states we're international as well, primarily, with medical operations right now. But certainly, in this world, we're understanding that, you know, people who are willing to volunteer their time can, you know, bring hope to communities impacted.

Dr. O: You know, you may regret opening Pandora's box to sports analogies, because that is something that I live by every single day. But I think part of this is wanting to make sure everyone feels like they're part of a team, right? A lot of the work that that we're doing on this end is trying to expand the opportunities that individuals with disabilities have in general, and one particular niche is providing equitable access to sports and fitness. So our adaptive sports work is trying to make sure that everyone feels like they're a member of that team. Whether you got cut from the varsity team in high school or college or not, there's still a role for you on that team that sounds like you've put together an amazing team of people that are able to then play various games, no matter where it is you put them.  And that's what it sounds like you've been doing. But as a member of that team, similarly, at equal and able, we talk a lot about increasing equity. Right. And, and when we think about a natural disaster, as you've mentioned, this is a moment in time where a lot of people are probably at their most vulnerable, right then. And in particular if they've been displaced, or if they lost a home. I've looked at some of the work that you do. And I've seen that you use something called your highest social vulnerability index. And that's what sort of helps you identify and plan where to go. Can you talk a little bit more about that, and how that helps you make decisions about words, employee volunteers?

Yeah, so so at Team Rubicon we're big believers, you know, and the data backs this up that, you know, disasters are indiscriminate in where they strike. But when they strike different populations, there is an inequitable, you know, or unlevel impact, you know. Communities that are poor, you know, generally communities of color, are impacted in a different manner, and they don't necessarily have the financial resilience that is super important in a disaster, you know, lots of times, you know, we're finding across the country that, you know, their populations living, you know, on the financial edge, and something as disruptive as a national natural disaster, you know, can really make a difference in, you know, that family, you know, that, that, that man or that woman that child's life. So one of the things we do is we take a look at, you know, a disaster is we use the social vulnerability index, which comes out of, you know, 14 different, you know, metrics across census data, which essentially, you know, in its simplest form measures, the resilience, you know, a community would have, and particularly, you know, a population will have, you know, in responding, you know, can they absorb a disruption from a natural disaster.  And we always start at those with the highest social vulnerability, they're the people most likely to have a real impact from a natural disaster and we try to deliver our aid there first. So, you know, it's, it's a guide to deliver the aid to the people who need it most. And it just kind of begins to center on you know, how do you not after a hurricane, you know, make sure that you're going to a primary residence instead of a secondary residence, you know, to make sure that, you know, as an example, multi-generational homes, you know, can you deliver aid there before, you know, other homes? So it's  kind of a starting point, for a choice in, you know, where you're going to begin in, you know, kind of eating the elephant, you know, where are you going to take that first bite and deliver the services. And, you know, obviously, you'd love to increase to help as much as the population as possible as it moves forward. But we understand, you know, they're constrained resources.  And you really try to put yourself in the shoes of the people impacted by these disasters, in the real impact on their life.  Can you get them into a position where they can resume their life and their livelihood, because it obviously has impacts that ripple through the entire family and the community, you know, for that matter?

Dr. O: You know, those points you made were very important, right? And you mentioned how disaster strikes, right, and it is nondiscriminatory and where it strikes and how it strikes. But the fact that there are certain demographics that are disproportionately impacted by those things, you know, when we have solutions that we create, for sort of the majority, we oftentimes miss the fact that certain minoritize groups will then be disproportionately impacted. And it shouldn't actually come as a surprise to people. But a lot of times, it seems as though it's an afterthought, to then think about individuals from some of these marginalized populations that are going to be disproportionately impacted. So, as someone who is a wheelchair user, I'm interested in hearing, you know, your perspective or opinions on some of the accessibility needs and or challenges that you may have come across, as you help people who are living with disabilities, who in my opinion, may be even more disproportionately impacted, especially if there's a mobility disability, for example. So is that something that you and your work have come across? And how do you manage that?

Art: Yeah, it's actually something that we're, you know, we're focused on, particularly after a disaster in the field, you know, there's some situations where you have to really be able to understand the impact, you know, or the loss of some services, you might, for instance, find that an area has been devastated in a manner where they don't have electricity, you know, are there people that have, you know, medical devices that are reliant on power? You know, are there people that are now in mobile, you know, as you talked about, maybe it's a felled tree that's blocking, you know, access to a home, are there people that are going to have difficulty, you know, in overcoming debris, or things like that, that might, you know, impact, you know, their ability to either evacuate, or return or perform the services that are required, you know, to ensure, you know, they move forward. And I think one of the, the amazing things, you know, done properly, right is, is you have to understand that, you know, again, just like the social vulnerability index, that you want to prioritize some of these services, because, again, I think, people's lots in life, right? If you really enter these situations, and you view the world, you know, with this eye towards empathy, and act with compassion, you know, you're able to begin to prioritize and solve some of these problems. Because in the end, you know, regardless of the situations, you know, people are in, you know, their physical condition, whatever it might be, you know, one of the unique things about disasters is you really begin to understand, you know, how resilient people are, you know, how willing neighbors are to help neighbors in these times. And, you know, sometimes it just takes the removal of one or two perceived barriers to ensure that, you know, the, the community at large can can move forward in a real impactful manner. And, you know, the reality is, you know, on the other side of the fence, you know, we've found that, you know, in approach to, you know, Diversity and Equity and Inclusion has been very, very powerful for our volunteer base as well, you know, to take a really recent example, you know, when COVID struck, we knew that people over the age of 65 are now considered high risk, we weren't going to deploy them, you know, to Tennessee to respond to a tornado, but they add so much value, you know, it might be working in a remote capacity to mobilize our vet, that might be, you know, helping with, you know, different campaigns that are required or online coordination. Um, so everyone has value in these times. So I think on on both sides of the fence, you know, it's important to understand and again, to, to go back to the, to that analogy of a team or a tribe, as we like to call it, you know, everybody has a role, you know, in these times to you know, collectively move the community forward.

Dr. O:  Now there's something that I want to go back to that you mentioned, you then talked about resilience. This is something that at times I think I struggle with. Because often when you hear people talk about resilience, what we're discussing is the fact that there's a particular group that has been subjected to harms that they should not have had to endure. And their ability to quote unquote, overcome that is something that we see as resilience. When I think that a lot of times there are systemic or structural barriers that are put in place that then certain people have to overcome, and other people don't have to be as resilient. So I guess, you know, I'm not sure if there's even a question in this really, but it's, has that been something that you've ever sort of grappled with, because I speak to a lot of people who are from these sort of underrepresented, marginalized low resource communities. And at times, they feel as though their resilience is what is sensationalized? And what they say is that I don't want to be seen as resilient, right? I want people to just eliminate the barriers that make it such that I have to be more resilient. And I think that either fortunately, or Unfortunately, this pandemic has somewhat leveled the playing field for everyone to see what life may have been like for other individuals who, prior to pandemic, were being resilient. And now everyone sees that they have to then act in a way that this is an intended impact. But how do we then make it such that on the other side of this pandemic, we've been able to sort of dismantle some of the structures that imposed resilience on certain communities?

 

Art: Yeah, I think I think that's a really, you know, fantastic opportunity for the nation as a whole. Right, you, you articulated how, you know, in this conflict, and in particular, with some of the things that have happened in 2020, which, you know, I, I believe, will go in the history books, you know, is this this amazing, you know, series of events that have happened. And I like the way you articulated that it's not about resilience, and I think part of, you know, shining light on that is how do you now begin through a lens, I'll use as an example of a quality, begin to understand what you talked about, which is Don't, don't celebrate the resilience, don't talk about the resilience, but let's talk about why we are here and what we can do about it. You know, I think a great example is you might see communities that are, you know, adversely affected by natural disasters. And, you know, it's simple to go, why would why would somebody live here, you know, and I think it's, you know, more powerful question is to say, and reflect and understand why might somebody have to live in this community? Why are they're here, why, you know, and then you start to pick apart different things like, like zoning, or redlining, all of these, all of these factors that are now actually being shined in the light to have really, really powerful discussions and not just view the world through observation, but also view the world through a lens of learning, and reflection, and planning for the better way forward, to your part, which I wholly agree with, which is, you know, if we've truly view the world through a lens of equality, and we put the, you know, the community in a position where it's no longer it's just something that, you know, isn't there, you know, everyone understands, you know, who they are, what they're experiencing. And, you know, you, as you talked about, you remove these barriers, you know, they can be either viewed as a barrier or a barrier that's overcome, and hence, you know, that that idea of resilience. So I think, you know, all of that is extremely, extremely important, you know, when, when we think through the lens of resilience, you know, for disasters, it's, it's preparation, you know, and, you know, I think a great example, that will really begin to hear that, as the hurricane season begins to bear down is, you know, something is, as common is, do people have enough medicine, have they, you know, do they have the right medicines to survive for the next two weeks, in light of the fact that, you know, that logistics or that supply chain could be disrupted, or, you know, your ability to get to that supply chain could be disrupted. To me, that's, you know, that's resilience. How do you prepare, how do you understand? So at that moment, you know, the community is better prepared to deal with it.

Dr O: It's, it's obvious to me that that mindset that you have, is what has led to the success of Team Rubicon, because we talk about natural disasters and this Covid 19 pandemic is one. It's a disaster that is now gripping our entire world. And one of the things that I want to touch on today is that covid 19 pandemic and the vaccine. So we're talking about making sure that we try to reduce some of these barriers and put people sort of on a level playing field while also needing to prioritize sort of how we distribute resources. I think the difficult thing for some people to acknowledges, while we want to help everyone, while we intend to try to prioritize the most vulnerable, there still needs to be an order of operations. And I think it's times it's difficult sometimes to see that, and how we are going to distribute things that we want everyone to get. But no one we just can't let everyone come on day one at the same time. And I believe I've heard you use a phrase turning vaccines into vaccinations. So what what is Team Rubicon doing and their work to increase vaccine equity? And are there any sort of specific wins that you can discuss? Because I know that you know, where you are physically located right now, I feel as though there's a particular sort of project that you're working on and some things that maybe others can benefit from hearing, and how you've been able to conceptualize and actually actualize this idea as well.

Art: Yeah, I really appreciate the question and the framing that is set up there, Dr. O, because I think it's, you know, when you describe COVID-19, and the pandemic as a disaster, you know, that's, that's 100%, you know, the correct way to look at it, you know, we like to think that a disaster is anything that overwhelms a community's ability to respond to it. And across 50 states across all of our territories. And as you said, globally, you know, this is over overwhelming the world, I think, you know, from the lens of, you know, equitable distribution. You know, when the President released his guidance, I think it was January 19. You know, equity was a huge part of it, how do you ensure that every American has the opportunity to receive the vaccination, you know, to receive the vaccine? And what's so important about it, right, is this disaster unlike a hurricane or tornado, we know the answer. And it's to convert vaccines into vaccinations, vaccinations or, or vaccines are not going to save lives. Vaccinations will. And we saw over the course of the rollout, and this is a very interesting observation in that very recently I've had is, you know, Team Rubicon made a decision in March of 2020, right when the pandemic struck, we understand and viewed this through the lens of a disaster, as you talked about, and said, We are in this moment where Team Rubicon can simply survive the pandemic, or we can thrive in it. And by thrive, we said, let's figure out how we can use all the tools, all of our processes, and especially the people that we have to serve communities. And we ended up, you know, doing testing sites, and, you know, solving food insecurity problems and partnerships with food banks, standing up field hospitals, you know, to decompress medical systems. And in November of 2020, we said, we have the answer, let's really dedicate the organization towards converting vaccines into vaccinations. And we started doing that we had pilots running. And one of the unique opportunities we had was we continued our partnership with the Navajo Nation, where we were since you know, early last year, we were helping them in their, you know, their hospital system was devastated by COVID, they exceeded New York and New Jersey and the per capita COVID rate. And we're able to serve a population of people there in the hospitals, I think we, you know, had close to 8000 hours of, you know, medical doctors and nurses in EMTs, you know, supporting them. And then in November, when we switched to vaccinations, we started, you know, saying, Let's, let's support vaccinations, and we ended up delivering close to 12,000 hours of, you know, service and in vaccine distribution, and it wasn't necessarily needles and arms. It was queuing up traffic, it was providing observation, and it was simply designed to our frontline warriors, as I like to call, you know, the doctors and the nurses and the paramedics and EMTs that have been fighting this war against COVID since March of 2020. You know, how do we allow them to do what they can uniquely do? And make sure that not in parking lots setting up cones or tents or directing traffic? And we started to do that in here in the Navajo Nation, which has a population of about, you know, 300,000, it's, it's been amazing. You know, number one, because the community has responded and said, you know, we are going to respond and we understand that if we receive the vaccine, we will contribute to our community's healing and they've reached 92% of their eligible population has been vaccinated. So on Thursday, we're actually having our last day it will be day 169 of operations here in the Navajo Nation. And we may come back for as they've opened up the window for for child vaccinations. But what's amazing about it is to see this community come together to see their acceptance of the vaccine, you know, to convert them into vaccinations, and now you see, you know, where this community is in this community, make no mistake about it, you know, a third of them are experiencing waterpower poverty, you know, a third of them are experiencing poverty of, you know, electricity, a third of them are experiencing, you know, a lack of Wi Fi. So a lot of these, these amenities that you commonly view as enablers in the vaccination world or in mitigating COVID, you know, this community has managed to overcome. You know, another recent thing that I experienced, Dr. O. is I had the privilege of serving at a very local, you know, community pharmacy-based vaccination clinic in Chinatown in Los Angeles. And you can imagine, in this dense urban area, it was amazing to see, and this was, you know, just a couple of weeks ago, that people still, for some reason hadn't been able to gain access to the vaccination. So this is where that that roll in that focus of equitable distribution of vaccine, how do you find the rural populations, the populations that don't have access, the populations that have barriers and technology and signing up for slots or you know, those that don't have health care exists, it takes effort on the behalf of our communities that deliver these services to reach out to them ensure they have an opportunity, again, to receive the vaccination, because every life is as important as every other life. And it's an obligation that I think our nation, hopefully embraces and continues to carry out, you know, as we work towards immunity.

Dr. O: I cannot agree more. Because one of the things you mentioned is that there were a group of people that hadn't had access to the vaccine yet. And that's a, that's step one, and turning vaccines into vaccinations, because you can have plenty of supply but not be able to reach the demand. And I think that's one of the things that we've encountered during this time. And one of the things that we worked on was actually providing some guidance in terms of making vaccine and testing sites more accessible for individuals with disabilities as well. Because if you have access to a vaccine, and your number's called, but then you cannot physically access that location, that would absolutely be a barrier. But there's an entire other side of this coin of individuals who still don't trust. And you said, you've been able to achieve I believe it was 92% sort of vaccinations within the Navajo Nation. But there are other communities and particularly some communities of color, who may have other reasons why they haven't been able to take the vaccine, or why they choose not to. Have you encountered this at all, either at the Navajo Nation or at any of the other work you do with vaccine hesitancy, and how do we get people to take the vaccine? I mean, in the work that you do, it sounds like you work directly with, with the populations you hope to serve. And my guess would be that you're able to build that relationship and rapport, to then make sure that they know that it's a trusted entity that they're working with. But there's still plenty of communities that that don't trust this process, and I believe actually have legitimate reasons to ask questions about why they should trust it this time, when the same system was one that was clearly not set up to support them before.

Art: Yeah, I think that's, you know, it's an amazing and complex answer to that, you know, and I guess, I guess, in a different manner, you know, one of the things you know, I had the pleasure of reading, you know, kind of the policies that you'd set out in the guidance at the University of Michigan. And I think one of the really, really powerful things, if you read between the lines is I think you challenge people who see that document, to try to mirror or view the world through what someone is experiencing, you know, as I read, you know, the way you recommended displaying signage or the deliberate manner in which you'd ensure someone in a wheelchair had the space that was required to do that the accommodations for people with disabilities that may have to wait in line or have, you know, be sight impaired. I think all of those things are really, really unique and that they challenge everyone to try to view the world, you know, through a lens that someone who may encounter that may go through. And I think that directly applies to this concept around vaccine hesitancy. So number one is, you use the word, how do you have a conversation? And I think that's the biggest thing, right? You know, just simply having a discussion or an opportunity to either, you know, dispel misinformation or answer questions or promote a greater understanding, to inform that person to make a decision, they have to, you know, it's a huge part of it. So I don't think it's a, necessarily a campaign of convincing so much as just get the people to a point where they have to have the discussion. And I think one of the things that I've really begun to understand, and I think Team Rubicon, and, you know, hopefully the other organizations that are working vaccine hesitancy is, you know, the real centerpiece of that conversation, it's the community these people belong to and call home, you know, it's nothing is more powerful than having, for example, a pastor from a church, you know, being there as the voice or, you know, becoming the the centerpiece of the vaccination effort, because, you know, through that trusted age, and then trust, trust is earned. And trust is something that, you know, in communities, you know, beit leaders or church leaders or school leaders, you know, trust is, is a huge enabler for people being able to understand, you know, the, the value of a vaccination. Um, so I think finding, finding them is more important than trying to insert yourself into a community as an organization like Team Rubicon, where maybe we're not a member of that community. But we certainly have to be able to partner with the leadership and the trusted, you know, community members, because you'll have better results as you go through there. And what that really takes is, you know, this, this continued reliance on, you know, empathy and compassion, and, you know, actively listening and understanding what is going on. And I, again, I think, you know, kudos to you for the way you had kind of communicated that in a completely different manner. But I think it does serve as a guardrail or a playbook, you know, for how to kind of view vaccine confidence.

Dr.O : Well, thank you for those words, I must say, I cannot and will not take credit for that work, there has been a team of individuals at Michigan, working tirelessly to make sure that not just for vaccines, but in all other aspects of public and private life and individuals with disabilities are thought of, and what you just refer to, and you may have heard this phrase already, but you just refer to nothing about us, without us. You're essentially saying that in order to then work with communities, you actually have to work with communities, you have to work within these communities, you have to communicate with the stakeholders in that community. And there's no sort of golden ticket. There's no magic potion that all of a sudden can make up for for years of familiarity. And I think that is what is needed and actually allowing people to be at the table, because we often try to speak for communities that are underrepresented or marginalized, and seldom do we actually provide them the access to be at the, at the table when the decisions are made. So it sounds like Team Rubicon goes into communities and actually listens, and makes space for the community to also be part of this. And I think that's the difference maker. But to take this one step further, I'll say, we always like to find out what we can all do to ensure that we are truly sort of embodying this ideal of equal and able. We've heard a lot already about what you're doing at Team Rubicon. And as an individual who runs an organization that's dedicated to helping people when they most need it. Are there any maybe one or two nuggets that you can say that you have learned throughout this process? And whether it's specific to vaccine equity, or has to do with anything else in your personal professional life that you've seen? What can we do? And what can we challenge others to do to create more equity in our day to day lives?

Art: Yeah, you know, I, you know, obviously, it's a huge task, and I view it more as an opportunity and obligation we have I think, number one, you know, the one thing I've, I've learned, you know, and I'm speaking on my own behalf, and I think you said it earlier is I think you don't know what you don't know, right? And if you can go into situation with an assumption that what you're viewing, you know, and be at bias or be at your your background and your experience, you know, guides you to come to conclusions, if you can guard against coming to those conclusions and then begin to take that energy and begin to apply it in a manner. You know, in particular, where you go, how can I actually be a value? And how can I identify barriers? And how to break those down? How can I facilitate a better solution? You know, I think generally comes down to what you talked about, how do you? How do you listen carefully? How do you begin to understand more deeply, you know, what is happening in front of you, and how we might have gotten there. And that just gets to this, this idea that, you know, you live a life as a constant learner. I think that's, you know, extremely important. And I think when it comes to, you know, equity, particularly after a disaster strikes, is, you know, viewing it through this lens. And, again, we talked earlier about how social vulnerability guides this, you know, to this, this, this idea that, you know, let's start let's help the people who, who need it most, and continue to do that.

Dr. O: Art, it is clear that we need more art dealer cruises, we need more Team Rubicon. And so I commend you and all of the team that you have amassed for the impact that you have already made and the impact that I know you will continue to make. Thank you so much for everything that you've done.

Art: Dr. O, thank you for having me. You know, as a guest on this podcast, it was truly an honor and thank you to you as well for promoting equality, and truly believing that everyone is equal enable I wish you the best.

Dr. O: Thank you for joining us on Equal & Able. We hope you will tune in to subsequent episodes as we continue to bring in leaders to engage in thoughtful and challenging conversations about what each of us can do to demonstrate how everyone is Equal & Able.

Disclaimer: Doctor Feranmi Okanlami is a partner and spokesperson for Guardian life and Art delaCruz is Chief Executive Officer at Team Rubicon. This Equal & Able podcast is for informational purposes only and includes the views of Dr. Okanlami and Mr. delaCruz based on their own background research and or experience. Individual situations may vary, and the information should be relied upon only one coordinated with individual professional advice. Speakers are not endorsed by guardian and opinion stated are their own. They are not intended to give investment, legal or tax advice and that should not be substituted for regular consultation with your investment, legal or tax professionals. This podcast does not constitute an offer or solicitation of a product or service.

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