Closure III


group_handshakeClosure III was held from November 2009 through April 2010. The Closure team was asked to share its expertise and help support a conversation series in the African American communities of the North Side of Pittsburgh.


Community stakeholders were recruited through the ongoing partnership of Allegheny General Hospital and the North Side Leadership Conference. 


  • Chair Doris Carson Williams, executive director of the African American Chamber of Commerce, and Debra Caplan, Senior Vice President, Allegheny General Hospital, opened the series with a discussion, which emphasized that changing expectations for end-of-life cannot be accomplished in silos; an entire community must come together to bring about the needed changes.
  • Guided conversations with topic experts (from the African American community) covering:
    • What makes a good death
    • End-of-life issues from the African American perspective
    • End-of-life resources  (hospice, legal planning and geriatric medical practices)
    •  The family’s  experience
    • Recommendations for an action plan in the African American community


After six sessions, the group decided that it would focus on raising awareness about end-of-life issues, especially in the African American community. They concluded that there is a need to “bridge the gap” that separates African-Americans from a predominantly Caucasian medical community. Their conversations also revealed that a grassroots outreach effort would be the most effective approach to enabling people to understand the necessity of advance planning and to comprehend that they have the power to take charge.