As EDC mourns the loss of Sadé Heart of the Hawk Ali, a deeply loved and revered colleague who passed away on November 12, we are also celebrating her life and her lasting contributions to EDC and to the world. For 51 years, Sadé worked to ensure that all people who need a therapist receive high-quality, culturally and linguistically responsive, and respectful treatment (read an article about Sade). In this post, three of her colleagues reflect on the talent, powerful good, kindness, and care that Sadé brought to all she did.
From Julie Goldstein-Grumet
Sadé’s spirit was warm, friendly, inviting, kind, thoughtful, gentle, and supportive. She was truly one of a kind. Her passion to change the world was so clear and heartfelt, you could literally feel it in the air. She moved people with her stories and her words. She touched people in ways that most people can’t possibly ever achieve. Some of the things I heard from people about her were, “She was so alive. I loved her facilitation style. She really personalized it and got people to engage.” “Sadé was a person that I felt like I had known forever.” “Sadé was unique and unforgettable.” “She dedicated her time and career to suicide prevention.” “She was a dear sister and friend.” The outpouring of sadness by all who encountered her is enormous. She has forever changed anyone who met her. We can each aspire to have a little more Sadé in us.
From Jan Ulrich
Sadé Heart of the Hawk Ali, Mi’kmaq from the Sturgeon Clan, was—is—a force of nature, larger than life yet down to earth and accessible to all. I was privileged to mentor Sadé when she came onboard with the Zero Suicide Institute (ZSI) at EDC and the work of Zero Suicide in Health Care Systems. She had a plethora of experience in the mental health and suicide prevention world as a retired deputy commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services. But she was new to the work of the ZSI.
It didn’t take long for the mentor to become the mentee. Sadé educated me on the atrocities her mother and so many others endured when taken from their homes and families and forced into boarding schools. She taught me about the generational trauma that she herself continued to experience. She taught me about the Two-Spirit world and how in her culture it had meant so much more than a label relating to sexual identity. From Sadé, I learned about the missing and murdered Indigenous women in the U.S. and Canada.
Sadé’s pride and joy was making the Zero Suicide framework culturally relevant for Indian Country. She used her own extensive knowledge and consulted with many Indigenous friends and colleagues with vast experience in the field. This work was built on her sweat and blood, and the concepts in the Indiana Country toolkit will have far-reaching impact, not just on her culture, but on many others as well.
Sadé loved fiercely—her adored biological family, her many “adopted sons and daughters,” her friends, and the many people whose lives she sought to affect. I count myself very fortunate to be considered a friend of Sadé Heart of the Hawk Ali. You will be missed my friend. Wela’lin (Thank You).
From Jessica Auerbach
Sadé Heart of the Hawk Ali was a cherished member of EDC’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG). She was passionate, thoughtful, and committed to the ERG, contributing invaluable wisdom to our initiatives and resources and even more invaluable support to colleagues and peers. Sadé was especially passionate about educating people about Two-Spirit identity by providing her wealth of knowledge as a Two-Spirit Indigenous advocate and ensuring Two-Spirit communities were centered in our work.
Sadé made many contributions to the ERG and EDC communities, including supporting the development of a resource about the discoveries of several mass graves of Indigenous children and youth at residential school sites in the United States and Canada. She elevated our understanding of the impact of this history and trauma—in particular on those who were direct survivors of the boarding schools or who were first- and second-generation survivors. She presented at a Two-Spirit brown bag lunch we hosted in celebration of Native Heritage Month, sharing history as well as her lived experience to educate colleagues about Two-Spirit identities and communities. Most recently she contributed to our Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Question Bank, a resource to guide EDC staff on including questions about SOGI in surveys and forms and to assist in analyzing the resulting data. Sadé was courageous in speaking out for justice, and she utilized her advocacy, lived experience, and storytelling to make meaningful change. Beyond the work, she was a friend to many and was known for her empathetic nature. She will be missed dearly.
If you have a memory of Sadé Heart of the Hawk Ali that you’d like to share, please do so in the Comments section.
Julie Goldstein Grumet, EDC vice president, is an expert in behavioral health transformation, state and local community suicide prevention, and the use of evidence-based practices for suicide care in clinical settings.
Jan Ulrich, senior project associate for the Zero Suicide Institute at EDC, is an expert in suicide prevention. She brings both professional and personal experience to her leadership and advocacy work in the field.
Jessica Auerbach, senior technical assistance specialist, is an expert in early childhood health and wellness, mental health, and LGBTQ health. She is the co-chair of EDC’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group.