After years of working as a pediatrician in safety-net clinics in San Francisco, Dr. Zea Malawa recognized that her clinical care of Black and Brown families often didn’t address the root of what ailed them. Rather, she was treating the social and health consequences of racism.

To create a better future for children across San Francisco, Malawa began to focus on policy and broader systems change. She’s now the executive director of Expecting Justice, a Black-led, cross-sector initiative that addresses system challenges that Black and Pacific Islander women face during pregnancy and childbirth.

In the following conversation with Miya Cain, senior consultant with the mission-driven consulting firm FSG and a partner in the early implementation of Expecting Justice, Malawa discusses the process of centering anti-racism in Expecting Justice’s work and the importance of having anti-racist expertise among the leaders of collective impact efforts, including both the backbone team and initiative’s steering committee. The backbone team, which is dedicated to aligning and coordinating the work of a collaborative, is one of the “five conditions” of collective impact. The backbone team leads the work, in partnership with a steering committee of representatives from across the community who guide and champion the effort more broadly.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length for Stanford Social Innovation Review. In the full conversation, Cain and Malawa discuss how to weave an anti-racist approach into the collective impact framework, and how Malawa and her colleagues have helped deepen their partners’ understanding of the impacts of structural and interpersonal racism. Listen to a podcast of the complete interview below and follow this series for new conversations and essays about collective impact.

Read the full article about anti-racism approaches by Zea Malawa and Miya Cain at Stanford Social Innovation Review.