African American Community Engagement

In 2017, with the guidance of our African American Leadership Council, Compassion & Choices began a concerted effort to ensure the African American community was inspired to take charge of their end-of-life planning and care. This includes:

  • Collaborating with leading national organizations and thought leaders.
  • Launching public-education campaigns.
  • Conducting outreach to inspire end-of-life planning. And,
  • Identifying storytellers and advocates.

Through this work, we recognize that the first step in reaching the African American community is inspiring more conversations. Check out our public service announcement, “Talking About Death Won’t Kill You”:

Take Action

Join us in our movement to empower more African Americans to take charge of their end-of-life:

Elaine Saunders quote graphic

Leadership Council

The African American Leadership Council represents diverse groups of executives, community leaders, faith leaders and experts in the fields of medicine, estate planning and more. 

Collage of Photos of African American Leadership Council


  • Meet with members of Congress to advance our legislative efforts;
  • Hold webinars and events for underserved communities;
  • Secure endorsements from diverse organizations; And,         
  • Extend their voice to the movement through various media outlets.

Click here to see our leadership council in action.


Compassion & Choices' many efforts have gained support from several leading national organizations that represent the African American community. We work with these organizations to create resolutions. These are used as a community building tool to garner support and provide examples on how C&C can help their organization join the end-of-life care movement. Resolutions are also a call-to-action as they also outline how an organization is going to take action. Resolutions create accountability while measuring impact and engagement..

Organization More Information
The African American Mayors Association adopted an end-of-life education resolution. Board member Mayor Timothy Ragland from Talladega, AL introduced the resolution and it passed unanimously.
In 2021, the NAACP board of directors passed an end-of-life education resolution at its 112th national convention.
Thanks to the leadership of delegate Laura Hall, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) adopted a resolution that Compassion & Choices helped draft and advance which affirms NBCSL’s commitment to “educate, empower and advocate around end-of-life care.”
NOBEL Women has partnered with Compassion & Choices on end-of-life planning. In 2019, they issued an end-of-life solution, and in 2021, they honored Compassion & Choices with its coveted corporate partnership award.
During their conference in 2019, this large group of progressive Black faith leaders adopted an End-of-Life covenant that included information about advance care planning and medical aid in dying.
In 2022, Lambda Psi Nu Sorority, Inc. passed an end-of-life education resolution at its national conference.

Additional Resolutions

Thought Leaders

We’ve also secured the endorsements of highly respected thought leaders and activists across the country who support increased efforts to empower the African American community about end-of-life planning. 

Thought Leader Bio
Dr. Irene Jackson-Brown Irene V. Jackson-Brown, Ph.D., CSA, CMC, CDP, is an author, speaker, consultant, caregiver’s coach, educator and current Compassion & Choices Board member. In 2005, she opened an applied gerontology practice as the “The Art of Eldercare.” Irene holds several certifications as a senior-servicing professional – CSA (Certified Senior Advisor) from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors; CMC (Care Manager Certified) from the Association of Aging Life Care Professionals; and a CDP (Certified Dementia Practitioner) from the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. She spoke about the importance of end-of-life care in this conversation.
Elaine Saunders Elaine S. Saunders is the Chair of the Genevieve N. Johnson Senior Day Care Center Advisory Council, based in Washington, D.C. As part of its goals, the Genevieve N. Johnson Senior Day Care Center has the ultimate objective to make a joyful, improved and quality-driven life for all of its senior citizen clients. We discussed how having a plan can protect your loved ones.
Dr. Benjamin Chavis In his editorial, Black Life Journeys Matter, Dr. Benjamin Franklin Chavis, Jr., well-known African American civil rights leader and president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association noted that: “While there has been a lot of appropriate national attention and focus on the beginning of life’s journey, there has not been enough attention on the inevitable transition and conclusions of one’s life journey, particularly from the African American perspective.”
Dr. Jeff Gardere Dr. Jeff Gardere, often known as “Dr. Jeff” or “America’s Psychologist” was on the cover of our Summer 2020 magazine, and has testified in support of medical aid in dying across the country, participated in national webinars, and worked with us to develop a video to bring to light some of the challenges faced with end-of-life planning and to overcome them.
Rev. Dr. Paul Smith Rev. Dr. Paul Smith is a civil rights activist and former pastor of several large churches. He has a long relationship with Compassion & Choices, including serving on the Board of Directors and Board of Advisors. He was featured on the cover of our winter 2022 magazine, appeared in numerous videos, and inspired an award in his honor to recognize his significant contributions to the movement.

The late Congressman Elijah Cummings (MD) and Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD), both of whom publicly endorsed medical aid in dying through written letters.  

Public Education Campaigns

Compassion & Choices has raised the visibility and importance of end-of-life planning through digital ads, direct mail, print ads and video development. USA Today included a Compassion & Choices ad in their special edition Black History Month feature, which was distributed to more than 5 million people via print and online.


Across the country and via video conference, we conduct presentations about end-of-life planning and care with an emphasis on reaching the African American community.

What are your advance healthcare plans? ad

A sampling of the topics we cover is below:  

End-of-Life Empowerment/Planning 

Dementia End-of-Life Care

End-of-Life Care Options

Equity in End-of-Life Care

If you are interested in booking a presentation, please contact us.

Black History Month

Each February, in recognition of Black History Month, we lift up the voices of African Americans who have been vocal champions for improved end-of-life care.  In 2022, we heard from four advocates:  

Albuquerque NAACP Pres. Dr. Harold Bailey
Albuquerque NAACP Pres. Dr. Harold Bailey
Dr. Carolyn Gilmore
Dr. Carolyn Gilmore
Minnesota Rep. Rena Moran
Minnesota Rep. Rena Moran
Minnesota Rep. Rena Moran
Rev. Dr. Paul Smith
Rev. Dr. Paul Smith


Elain S. Saunder's Story

Click Here to Read Elain's story

Conversations With Irene Jackson-Brown

End-of-Life Planning About Medical Aid in Dying

Latest News

End-of-Life Options Act Gains Momentum With Passing Vote From House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee
March 8, 2024

Terminally ill Minnesotans are one step closer to the end-of-life care option of medical aid in dying after the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee voted to pass the End-of-Life Options Act Thursday. The proposed legislation now moves to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee for their consideration, likely next week. The vote came…

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Black History Month Staff Spotlight: Osha Towers
February 10, 2023

This Black History Month, Compassion & Choices is celebrating Black leaders within our organization who bring their unique and invaluable perspectives to the end-of-life options movement. Our staff and supporters make progress possible. Compassion & Choices’ Community Engagement team works within communities to advance our mission of improving care and expanding options at the end…

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Philadelphia Inquirer: Opinion: Why don’t more people of color receive end-of-life care?
September 28, 2022

People from historically underserved communities don’t just rarely utilize medical aid in dying; they also are less likely to utilize hospice and other palliative care options.  Since New Jersey’s “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act” took effect three years ago, not one Black, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or Native American state resident has…

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PO Box 485
Etna, NH 03750