A Letter to Our Community

September 17, 2020

Dear NFOSD Community,

In the wake of current events in the United States, I feel compelled to condemn the injustice and discrimination and denounce the racism that plagues our country.

As a patient advocacy organization, we cannot remain silent. We have a responsibility to acknowledge systemic racism, advocate for equitable policies and inform the public discourse. Amidst a pandemic that has exacerbated hate and xenophobia, and the recent rampant acts of racial violence and brutality by select law enforcement officers, I urge you to join us in the fight for social equity and racial equality.

While these disparities have existed since the founding of our country, we recognize that the NFOSD has not previously had a statement acknowledging and addressing these inequalities that affect Black and other minority communities. This communication is one action we’re taking to address this omission.

We see the significant negative effects of racism in our community, particularly in the American healthcare system – this is a long-standing public health crisis.  We know that the Black community is at an increased risk for diseases, such as stroke, that can impact one’s swallowing. We know that the current pandemic is disproportionately affecting Black and minority communities – a global health crisis that has the potential to impact one’s swallowing.

We recognize the under-representation of Black and minority individuals in the healthcare and academic community and are committed to actively engaging with leaders in the dysphagia field to address these disparities. 

It is time for us as an organization to do better. We have updated our Mission Statement & Purpose. We are acting to diversify our Board of Directors and Medical Advisory Board. We pledge to improve our cultural and societal awareness to better advocate for all those impacted by dysphagia, and welcome feedback from our members on ways in which we can better address social and racial inequities on a global scale.

Before signing off there are two additional points, somewhat out of our lane, that I’d like to share.

  • First, our foundation supports the right to non-violent protest, we all have a voice. The foundation condemns all violence and looting.
  • Second, make your voice heard in the upcoming election. Register to vote, vote safely and as early as your jurisdiction allows, and go out of your way to help people vote who may currently be disenfranchised to do so. Our future depends on it.


Ed Steger, NFOSD President