Niki Lee Donawa

Chief community relations officer at Truman Medical Center.

Where were you born and raised?
Born in Columbia, Missouri. Raised in Higginsville, Missouri.

What is your occupation?
Chief community relations officer at Truman Medical Center.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
Swimming every day in the summer and playing with friends until the streetlights came on.

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is a time of remembrance, self-reflection and pride. To remember those whose came before us and on whose shoulders we stand to this day to get where we are. Self-reflection about what it means to me to be Black and still striving for better days. I'm very proud to be Black, we have such a rich history and played such an important role in building infrastructure of America.

What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
Inequities in so many areas; employment, education, healthcare...you name it.

When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I've always realized I was Black in America. What it's meant for my life is setting my mind to realize that I had to run faster and jump higher just because I'm Black. We are a resilient people and I love the saying, "They thought they were burying us but they didn't realize that we are seeds." Even in the darkest of time, we continue to grow and thrive.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
My biggest inspiration to push for change is my children and my children's children. They too will one day stand on our shoulders and we hope that they will eventually have to endure less opposition simply because they are Black.

How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
Working in a safety net hospital has allowed me to come face to face with the challenges of navigating the healthcare system. This pandemic continues to shine a light on the inequities faced by Black people. My contribution to the local Black community is helping to ensure that the Black community has access to the care it needs.

Your home for the Tokyo Olympics!