Black History Month: Black Joy Takes Center Stage In AdventHealth Team Member’s Life

BY MELANIE ARARAT, AdventHealth – Central Florida Division External Communications Specialist

ORLANDO – Rebecca Desir witnesses the disparities and challenges faced by marginalized communities daily in her role as a community advocacy senior manager at AdventHealth. During her working hours, she collaborates with community organizations, attends events, and more to enhance community health beyond the hospital’s walls. Yet, her commitment to bolstering the community persists beyond office hours.

In 2019, Desir, an honoree of the Orlando Business Journal’s 2023 40 Under 40 list, founded the Black Health Commission, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming the narrative around health inequities. Its mission is to shed light on the realities within Black communities, foster meaningful dialogues and address issues directly impacting the community. Uniting the Black community and connecting them to essential resources is crucial for her.

“At AdventHealth, I realized many organizations are doing the work, but people aren’t aware of their existence,” Desir said. “I had ideas beyond my team’s scope.”

One of the first events hosted by the Black Health Commission was a community baby shower. Recognizing the need to celebrate Black joy and address various health topics, the nonprofit continued hosting events, including the BLK JOY Festival. One of the sponsors is AdventHealth. This annual festival celebrates dynamic Black culture with health and wellness as its main themes. The festival, which is open to all community members, includes medical professionals who discuss topics like mental health, oral health, and intergenerational trauma. The festival, akin to a community gathering, offers information about the local area and available resources. This year, they will be hosting their fourth annual BLK JOY Festival on Saturday, Aug. 24 at Lake Lorna Doone Park.

Desir describes it as “a more inclusive type of health fair, with elements of joy, like a game of spades or Double Dutch, creating a safe, familial space for community members.” Some attendees are new to the Orlando area, and they are grateful to have the BLK JOY Festival to introduce them to the resources available and fellow members from their community.

Giving back to the community has been instilled in Desir since childhood. A pastor’s daughter, she frequently joined her family in extending a helping hand in the community. In college, she participated in service-based organizations that encouraged volunteerism. This commitment carried into her professional career.

Her work with the Black Health Commission began before she joined AdventHealth, but her role in the health system has helped her understand the needs of the community and identify creative ways to raise awareness of resources. This knowledge ensures that the Black Health Commission has the right people in the room for their events. The work she does at AdventHealth closely aligns with the work she does with her nonprofit, allowing her to pour her experiences into both spaces.

“I feel proud of the work that we’re able to do out in the community and inside our hospital walls,” said Desir. “It feels good to know that the things that I care about, what I value, the organization I work for also values.”

On Saturday Feb. 24, the Black Health Commission will be hosting their annual fundraiser, BLK on the Block. To learn more about the organization, visit