Johns Hopkins Medicine diversity chief resigns

Sherita Golden, MD, has stepped down as vice president and chief diversity officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

Theodore DeWeese, MD, CEO of Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine and dean of the medical faculty, and Kevin Sowers, MSN, RN, president of Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine, confirmed the transition in a letter to the health system community. The internal announcement was shared with Becker's March 6. 

"[Dr. Golden] has been a valuable member of the Johns Hopkins Medicine leadership team, and, like many of you, we wanted her to stay in her role, but we respect her decision," the letter said. "Dr. Golden will remain with us as the Hugh P. McCormick Family Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism. We are looking forward to the next phase in her extraordinary career."

Inez Stewart, the organization's chief human resources officer, will head the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity until a search committee names a permanent replacement. 

Dr. DeWeese and Mr. Sowers said the health system will "remain unwavering in our commitment to the principles and values of diversity, inclusion and health equity," and will continue to address health disparities and recruit diverse talent. 

Dr. Golden first joined Johns Hopkins in 1997, completing both her residency and endocrinology fellowship at its School of Medicine. From 2015 to 2019, she served as inaugural executive vice chair of the department of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. 

In her role as chief diversity officer, Dr. Golden advanced a "more focused" strategic action plan to guide diversity, inclusion and health equity efforts at both the medical school and health system, according to the letter. She launched multiple programs to support retention — including a mentorship program, residency recruitment program and "Achievers Award" program — and more than doubled the number of employee resource groups systemwide. She also worked to develop strategies to identify and reduce health disparities, and played a critical role in the system's COVID-19 response plan.

Dr. Golden's work came under scrutiny in January, when a snippet of an online monthly newsletter from the system's Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity went viral on X, receiving 42 million views. In a segment called "Diversity Word of the Month," Dr. Golden gave a definition of "privilege" and a list of social identity groups considered "privileged" in the United States. 

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland released a statement in response, alleging the memo was "racist" and calling for Johns Hopkins to "fire [Dr. Golden] immediately," ABC affiliate WMAR reported Jan. 16.  

In response to the backlash, Johns Hopkins Medicine released a statement saying the language Dr. Golden used "contradicts the values of Johns Hopkins as an institution," and that she "sincerely acknowledged this mistake and retracted the language used in the message."

Dr. DeWeese and Mr. Sowers briefly alluded to recent criticism in their letter shared March 6. 

"This work takes courage, and we are profoundly grateful to Dr. Golden for her grace under pressure, her poise in the face of adversity, and her dedication to the mission and work of ODIHE," the letter said. 

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