Thank you for your interest in learning more about the Suncoast Antiracism Initiative (SARI). We welcome anyone interested in fighting racism to join us.


A Bold Beginning in 2020

What began as discussions among “Race and the Church” committee volunteers at Church of the Palms and a developing sister church relationship with Light of the World International Church quickly grew into the need for something bigger. As we learned more about the local, regional, state, national and global impacts of racism, participants in these conversations began to wonder if there was a need for an interracial organization that would foster antiracism.

A planned visit by Dr. Jemar Tisby in January 2022 provided an opportunity to test this idea. In anticipation of his message to the community about America’s churches complicity in the history of racism and ways for citizens to fight racism, we began planning how we might use his visit to springboard an initiative to engage interested participants in fighting racism.

An interracial volunteer CORE Team was assembled to plan a community workshop to help form antiracism action teams. Click here to learn more about the CORE Team.
The CORE Team facilitated its first SARI interracial workshop at Church of The Palms on February 22, 2022. Forty participants divided into four teams, and each developed action plans for antiracism initiatives they believed could make a difference. Check out our Projects page for information about our initial work.

Our Approach

Fostering an interracial conversation that leads to forming outcome-oriented action teams capable of learning and adapting to changing circumstances is a formidable task. The CORE Team is using an approach called Strategic Doing which is specifically designed to achieve this kind of collaborative action, even and especially for very challenging problems like racism.

For more information about our approach contact


The Suncoast Antiracism Initiative process is overseen by a CORE Team of volunteers.

Melvin Christian

CORE Team Member

Visitation Pastor at Church of the Palms in Sarasota. Served in pastoral and ministerial capacities in other churches in Sarasota and Arlington, VA. Also served as Director of Operations for appellate division of the Social Security Administration. 

Jacquelyn Dix, M.D.

CORE Team Member

A native of Delaware and graduate of Morgan State University. Dr. Dix received her Doctor of Medicine degree from Rutgers Medical School in Newark, NJ, where she served as Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a Fellow in the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Dix is an artist trained at Visual Art Center of New Jersey by Vicki Starger. Several art shows have featured Dr. Dix’s work. 

Mark Huey

CORE Team Member

Private strategy and collaboration consultant with C-level leadership roles in the private, public and non-profit sectors focused on economic development, affordable housing, and commercial real estate development. Wharton MBA. 

Steve McConnell

CORE Team Member

Senior Pastor at Church of the Palms in Sarasota. He previously served churches in New Jersey and Philadelphia before moving here 13 years ago.

Mike Murphy

CORE Team Member

A retired pastor who served ministries in suburban Chicago and the West Side of Chicago. Now a spiritual director for pastors and ministry leaders. 

Marlene Petro

CORE Team Member

Retired Operations Director for Massachusetts Dental Society. Current Elder and chair of Day for Hope at Church of the Palms and Board President for Samaritan Counseling Services of the Gulf Coast. 

Dr. James B. Stewart

CORE Team Member

Professor Emeritus at Penn State University. Dr. Stewart holds advanced degrees in Economics and an undergraduate degree in Mathematics. Formerly, Penn State Vice Provost for Educational Equity and Director of the Black Studies Program, responsible for the University’s goals, policies and procedures pertaining to diversity, equity and incusion (DEI), and served as a consultant on DEI issues for several universities and the Department of Defense. Dr. Stewart has served as President of three national professional organizations, including the Manasota Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

Angie Stringer

CORE Team Member

President and CEO of Girls Inc. of Sarasota County since August 2015. Ms. Stringer has more than 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector in Sarasota, including direct program supervision, program development, strategic planning, staff management, fiscal planning, fundraising and marketing. 

Harold Young

CORE Team Member

Former Baltimore HUD official and legal counsel convened community leaders, housing professionals, fair housing advocates, non-profit organizations, and elected officials to address important housing and community development issues. 

Mission & Vision

As a newly formed initiative working to overcome racism, we are not naïve about our challenge. Rather than being overwhelmed by its complexity and ever-present controversy, rather than being paralyzed by fear, we are committed to fostering actions which have an increasingly transformative impact on  the Suncoast.

  • Our Mission: SARI is an interracial network collaborating to confront and diminish racism on the Suncoast.

  • Our Vision: SARI envisions the Suncoast as a region where diversity, equity, and inclusion are community norms.

  • Our Guiding Principles*: We are people of the Sarasota/ Manatee region concerned about racism, collaborating to change policies and attitudes that perpetuate inequality. 

    The following principles guide us:

    • We believe we are responsible for building a diverse, equitable, inclusive future for ourselves and future generations.

    • No individual, organization, or institution can build that future alone.

    • Open, honest, focused, and caring collaboration among diverse participants is the path to accomplishing clear, valuable, shared outcomes.

    • We believe in doing, not just talking – and in behavior in alignment with our beliefs.

    • We believe in doing actions that lead to…
      • Awareness- raising awareness regarding personal, systemic, and institutional racism,

      • Relationships-promoting collaborative relationships across racial, ethnic, and class divides, and

      • Commitments-encouraging and inviting participants to commit personal skills, assets, and resources toward collaborative initiatives that will make diversity, equity, and inclusion community norms.

    *These principles are informed by the Strategic Doing Credo and Dr. Jemar Tisby’s ARC Racial Justice.


Four action teams are working on the following initiatives.

Welcome to My World

Fighting racism requires building awareness and interpersonal relationships. This project has organized a series of “get to know you” events to develop a more personal understanding of the lived experience of racism and deeper relationships with one another. Through this journey together, they are developing approaches to scaling this initiative to wider audiences.

Kids & Family Programs: Racial and Educational Equity

Meaningful and lasting change begins at the beginning: in childhood. This team believes the next generation will grow in racial and awareness and advocacy of social justice when their parents are supported to encourage these ideals. Initiatives of this project include supporting kids directly in their racial awareness journey through literacy and programming. Parenting seminars and events are a longterm goal.

Rally the Troops

The Sarasota and Bradenton community is rich with organizations, individuals and resources geared to make our corner of the world better. This project is all about connection: seeking to foster a connected network of antiracism advocates. The goal is to encourage mutual awareness and support and help avoid duplication of programs in the area, for a more concentrated effort and messaging on racial equity.

Faith Community Coming Together

The old adage is true. There is strength in numbers. This project aims to maximize the local faith community’s engagement in antiracism initiatives. Presenting a united message on issues of racial reconciliation ensures a widespread, multi-congregational reach.

New action teams will be formed as SARI participation and leadership capabilities grow. We expect some initiatives will achieve their goals and conclude, while other initiatives will attract resources that will allow them to sustain their impact well into the future. We also expect initiatives to grow in number and impact as the SARI network grows.

For more information about getting involved, please contact us. 


Helpful Resources

We maintain an ongoing SARI Resource Guide with information about like-minded organizations in our area and helpful local, state and national associations. Please consider using this guide for your own antiracism journey. Contact for suggestions and additions. 

Make Your Voice Count – VOTE!


To register to vote in Florida, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States of America
  • Be a Florida resident
  • Be 18 years old
  • Not now be adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state
  • Not have been convicted of a felony without your right to vote having been restored


Sarasota and Manatee County residents may apply to register to vote or update their existing voter registration in a variety of ways.


    Due to changes in the law, all Florida voters who vote by mail must submit a NEW mail ballot request to their county Supervisor of Elections. Prior requests expired on 12/31/22Request your mail in ballot today!



    These websites contain local information on Election Dates and Deadlines, Election Results, Sample Ballots, Offices up for Election, Precinct Lists and Maps, Election Guides


    • Vote411 – This League of Women Voters’ website, in addition to allowing you to register to vote, to verify you voter registration and find your polling place, provides information given by the candidates on how they stand on the issues. 

    Community Events

    Join members of SARI in supporting conversations and events that build a more diverse and inclusive community.

    Upcoming SARI Events

    For more information contact

    Contact Us

    Thank you for your interest in the Suncoast Antiracism Initiative. If you have questions or interest in future participation, please contact

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