AARON DWORKIN: ON A MISSION TO ATTRACT STRING
BY YOJI COLE | © 2008 DIVERSITYINC
Black violinists are a rare breed. Aaron Dworkin
discovered this growing up when he was teased about
his passion for the instrument since playing it wasn’t
considered a “black” thing to do.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in music and
a master’s degree in violin performance from the
University of Michigan School of Music, Dworkin answered a simple question: “Why was I always the only
one? Why would I go to major concerts and not see
African Americans and Latinos in the audience?”
Dworkin founded The Sphinx Organization, which
in 2006 celebrated its 10th anniversary. The national
arts group works to develop classical musicians with
a mandate of increasing black and Latino representation in music schools and as members of orchestras.
Currently, blacks and Latinos represent less than 4
percent of the orchestra musicians.
Dworkin also created Sphinx’s artist-development
program, a national competition for string players of color featuring more than $150,000 in prizes
and scholarships annually.
Sphinx’s Classical Connection
programs focus on developing
awareness of classical music
in elementary-school children, and Sphinx Presents is a
concert showcasing its string
players of color.
The Sphinx Organization
Beyond Sphinx, Dworkin
helped design the required
arts curriculum for Michigan
schools as co-chair of the Arts and Cultural Education
Task Force for the state.
Dworkin notes that the audience’s interest is still
piqued when they see Latino and black string players.
“But the reaction is much different now, and one of
celebration and excitement rather than one of total
shock,” says Dworkin. “For the black and Latino communities, it’s excitement and pride at our community
and what we’re able to do.”
JIM BLAZAR: CLOSING THE HEALTHCARE GAP
BY YOJI COLE | © 2008 DIVERSITYINC
Jim Blazar’s strong marketing background and ability to
connect with customers is key
to his leadership in the battle
to close the racial gaps in
As president of Toronto-based Cleveland Clinic Canada, Blazar’s goal is to ensure
that health optimization and
sickness-prevention programs reach the city’s black
and Latino populations. Although medical coverage is
provided to all Canadian citizens by the government,
health-and-wellness programs are not.
Previously, Blazar was chief marketing and communications officer for U.S.-based Cleveland Clinic.
“One thing I learned in marketing that carries over
is that in marketing, you look for and try to understand customer needs and wants. I’ve been doing that
for a long time and that fits with diversity, which is
Cleveland Clinic Canada
appreciating difference, knowing the needs and wants
and sharing them across cultures and communities,”
Almost 43 percent of Toronto’s population is a “
visible minority,” approximately 1 million non-whites.
It’s projected that people of color will be a majority in
Toronto by 2012.
Blazar is sending doctors into the community.
Through lunch-and-learns, doctors go to companies
and present health-and-wellness seminars. Also, clinic
doctors write columns on health and wellness for a
national newspaper, the National Post.
“If there is something specific to a group, such
as a new medication, and there is a difference in
how it works in [different people], we make sure
that is understood. Or, if certain [medications] are
more acute among different groups, we include that
information,” says Blazar.
“If you do right, think clinically and understand the
needs and wants, we’ll be successful,” he says.