Multicultural Competency Committee


The National Wellness Institute (NWI) Multicultural Competency (MCC) Committee aspires to ensure that all global wellness practices are inclusive and equitable. Through webinars, articles, and certificate and training programs, this committee is focused on expanding knowledge, awareness, and skills for wellness practitioners to better understand organizations and underrepresented and marginalized communities. Based on content developed by industry experts and a strong brand reputation, this volunteer-led committee provides a holistic approach to multidimensional wellness.

History & Milestones

Milestones - timeline

At the NWI’s annual National Wellness Conference (NWC), a People of Color Network gathered, which later became the Multicultural Competency Committee.  It was formed by NWI board members and active volunteers to help culturally diverse new attendees acclimate and feel included. The goal of the conference in the early years was to reinvigorate one’s spirit while exchanging professional insights.

It became more apparent over time that more sessions were needed on health education for underrepresented and marginalized populations as well as diverse voices at the conference. In 2013, with the dedicated effort of NWI board members Linda Howard, Dr. Deborah Wilcox, and Dr. Aldrenna Williams, as well as NWI member Jennie Trotter, the MCC Committee made recommendations for expanding the People of Color Network and including multicultural wellness content. In 2015, the NWI board voted in favor of launching the MCC Committee as a standalone committee designed to create foundational elements, resources, and tools for the broader NWI community. Later in 2015, the first Multicultural Competency Academy was held at the annual conference.

Looking to get involved? Email us at

Path Forward

There is still a lot of work to be done to facilitate discussions about multicultural competency within wellness. Thanks to our volunteer committee and participant feedback, NWI was the first to market a professional certificate course focused on Multicultural Competency in Wellness, in addition to developing numerous resources (e.g., Multicultural Wellness Wheel, Self-Reflection Tools, Organizational MCC Inventory) and providing content to the NWI Journal and newsletter.


Keep an eye out for:

  • More conference sessions, webinars, and information videos
  • Registration for the next MCC certificate course
  • Conversations about reimagining wellness
  • Additional resources and new content

Thoughts from MCC Committee Members Who Served on the NWI Board of Directors or Co-chaired the MCC Committee


Nikki Akparewa

Why did you join NWI? 
I saw an advertisement for the conference and loved the energy once I arrived. Immediately, the People of Color Network connected me with the community and a few years later I joined the Board of Directors.

What are you most proud of during your tenure?
Being a key contributor to the development of MCC, the Conference Committee, and the Board empowered me to execute on many of our creative ideas that were well-received by participants.

What are your hopes for MCC growth?
It would be great to see more visibility for the work this committee does and even extend the outreach to a broader audience, so the community can learn from voices that typically aren’t heard.

Linda Howard

Why did you join NWI?
During a career change, I attended the annual conference, where Jennie Trotter, Gloria Elder, and Aldrenna Williams engaged me in the People of Color Network. Two years later, I accepted a Board role with a mission of helping NWI become a more inclusive organization that included diversity in membership, presenters, and leadership, while offering more content to address the needs of diverse populations.

What are you most proud of during your tenure?
I knew my contributions were making an impact when a conference attendee commented that my role as President, being an African American woman, indicated change within NWI. The MCC Committee has added value to individuals and organizations by making them more equipped to address diverse population’ needs. Through conference sessions, course offerings, and journal articles, we’re affecting those who can influence others. We hit it out of the park with the development of NWI’s High-Level Wellness Through Multicultural Competency Certificate course.

What are your hopes for MCC growth?
This committee has done great work with a few volunteers. I would like to see more committee members, so that our offerings reach a broader audience, inspire organizational change, and build wellness and healthcare professionals’ competencies. These are some of the things that differentiate NWI. With the right resources, this committee’s work can be the “go-to” source for multicultural competency in wellness and healthcare. 

Eirasmin Lokpez-Cobo

Why did you join NWI?
After attending the National Conference in 2015, I wanted to contribute to the organization’s mission by providing resources and sharing my expertise in multicultural marketing to improve multicultural competency in wellness. I decided to become part of the MCC Committee to develop tools, webinars, and sessions for the MCC Academy before I was elected to join the Board.

What are you most proud of during your tenure?
Contributing to the strategic vision of the organization has been a great honor. Since there was a need to develop a tool to support wellness practitioners and related stakeholders in broadening their outlook as it relates to the concepts of wellness and well-being, I led the efforts to develop the Multicultural Wellness Wheel before presenting the tool in various webinars and conference sessions. It is now used broadly and has served as the foundation for our initiatives, such as our High-Level Wellness Through Multicultural Competency Certificate course. We are all extremely proud of this program, which was a collaborative effort by our MCC Committee members.

What are your hopes for MCC growth?
Our committee will continue to get stronger by welcoming members from different backgrounds, who can help NWI foster inclusiveness and advance multicultural competency in wellness.  In addition, increasing visibility in the wellness community through content, tools, and relevant initiatives will increase our reach and ensure sustainability.

Novelette DeMercado

Why did you join NWI?
Curious about the ways diversity and belonging align with cultivating cultures of health and wellness, I was excited to attend my first NWC in 2015 to immerse myself in this learning. Deborah Wilcox invited me to attend the MCC Academy at the conference and committee, which were easy “yeses” because of the many ways she epitomizes inclusion.

What are you most proud of during your tenure?
Although it wasn’t always easy, the committee came together and always produced high-caliber deliverables. The enthusiastic feedback about the MCC Academy validated that we were on the right track.

What are your hopes for MCC growth?
You need to be brave and bold to name the issues and lead the conversations about them. Harnessing the collaborative creative energy to do what needs to be done in a timely way is essential.

Aldrenna Williams

Why did you join NWI?
Referred by a friend, I started attending the conferences in the early ’90s and was introduced to a holistic approach to health and wellness that was new, innovative, and showed many benefits. The NWI Six Dimensions of Wellness also provided a formal approach for addressing all the key areas in which an individual, family, community, and/or organization can achieve and maintain wellness. I was hooked. An added bonus was being embraced by people like Jennie Trotter, who introduced me to the People of Color Networking Group, which let me know there was an entity within the NWI that recognized the unique wellness needs of the communities I serve. I was able to discuss and learn with others, who chose to serve communities of color and address program challenges you encounter when facing these challenges.

What are you most proud of during your tenure?
It was rewarding to participate in the People of Color Networking Group and watch it evolve into NWI’s Multicultural Competency Committee, a more permanent part of the infrastructure based on activities we’ve been able to conduct. As a working group, we’ve been able to build upon a strong foundation, offering programs and resources to help those looking for guidance. Additionally, the certificate program helped attendees see what it looks like to practice wellness in diverse, underserved, and marginalized communities. I also am proud to be part of the NWI Circle of Leadership, Board of Trustees, and Board of Directors.

What are your hopes for MCC growth?
There’s a lot of terminology, and we need to be both consistent and clear when we educate others, especially with the increased interest in health disparities, social determinants of health, and health equity. I hope we’ll share resources with an even broader audience. Having a permanent presence on the NWI website was an initial recommendation that Linda Howard, Deborah Wilcox, and I prepared and presented to the NWI Board of Directors on behalf of the Multicultural Competency Committee many years ago.

Anita Mwalui

Why did you join NWI?
Having joined NWI four years ago, this community aligns with my goals around professional development, especially engaging with people who have diverse backgrounds and experiences.

What are you most proud of during your tenure?
It’s been exciting to share what I’ve learned here within my professional circles as well as contribute valuable content and insights to MCC resources.

What are your hopes for MCC growth?
I’m looking forward to expanding our offerings in a way that accommodates the needs of our evolving U.S. demographic.

Additional acknowledgements to Bridgette Stewart, Jennie Trotter, and Deborah Wilcox for their numerous contributions and service.

*People of Color Network: Anne Abbott, PhD; Carla Elam-Floyd; Gloria Elder; Linda Howard; Ra Kabeer; William “Marty” Martin, PhD; Mary McGlothin-Davis, PhD; Ed Ramos; Jennie Trotter; Craig Washington, PhD; Deborah Wilcox, PhD; Aldrenna Williams, DrPH

Download Your Copy of the Organizational Wellness Inventory PDF

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