15 hospital, health system chief diversity officers to know

As hospitals and health systems work to strengthen their approach to diversity and inclusion, they are creating more chief diversity officer positions.

According to a recent study from executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, 58 percent of CEOs, 64 percent of chief human resources officers and 50 percent of chief diversity officers agree or strongly agree that the number and prominence of chief diversity officers in healthcare organizations has improved over the past five years.

"The role of a [chief diversity officer] now, more than ever, requires strong communication and negotiation skills, in addition to being comfortable with engaging in uncomfortable conversations," Oliver Tomlin, a board member and senior partner in Witt/Kieffer's healthcare and education practices, said in a prepared statement. 

Mr. Tomlin adds, "[Chief diversity officers] are becoming more purposeful and impactful in cultivating diversity and inclusion in the workplace and they play a crucial role in recruiting, retaining and developing diverse healthcare leaders."

When looking for these chief diversity officers, hospitals and health systems look for candidates from broader backgrounds within healthcare as well as candidates from outside the industry.

Here are 15 chief diversity officers to know at hospitals and health systems throughout the United States, presented alphabetically.

Note: Chief diversity officers were selected based on editorial judgment and discretion. Individuals did not pay for inclusion on this list.

David Acosta, MD, Associate Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion, UC Davis Health System (Sacramento, Calif.). Dr. Acosta, a family practice physician, leads diversity activities throughout UC Davis Health System, which includes the UC Davis School of Medicine, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, UC Davis Medical Center and the physician practice group. Prior to UC Davis Health System, Dr. Acosta was chief diversity officer at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. During his tenure there, he established a rural health fellowship program for Tacoma Family Medicine, an affiliated residency program at UW's School of Medicine and a National Institutes of Health-funded Center for Cultural Proficiency in Medical Education at Washington. He also co-authored a diversity strategic plan and founded the Center for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UW's School of Medicine. Dr. Acosta earned his medical degree from the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine. Outside of UC Davis Health System, Dr. Acosta is a member of various organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health and the National Association for Rural Medical Educators. Additionally, he serves on several committees at the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Kevin Antoine, Assistant Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of State University of New York Downstate Medical Center (Brooklyn, N.Y.). In his role, Mr. Antoine oversees SUNY Downstate's hiring practices, employment policies, compliance with federal, state and university non-discrimination laws and polices, and workforce cultural competency training. He serves as chairman of the University of Brooklyn Hospital's Cultural Competency Committee. He is also a member of the American Association for Access Diversity and Inclusion, serves on its board of directors and serves as its national legislative director. A former Harvard University Administrative Fellow, he has a law degree from Williamsburg, Va.-based William and Mary, and a graduate certificate in organizational change from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Elizabeth Appling, Chief Diversity Officer, Erlanger Health System (Chattanooga, Tenn.). As chief diversity officer at Erlanger, Ms. Appling provides leadership and oversight "in efforts to create and sustain a respectful and inclusive culture," according to the health system. Prior to her current role, she was employee relations representative for Erlanger. She is a member of various organizations, including the Institute For Diversity in Health Management and the Tennessee Hospital Association, where she served on the diversity committee. She earned a master's degree in business administration from McKenzie, Tenn.-based Bethel College and is a graduate of the 2012-13 disparities leadership program at Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital's Disparities Solutions Center.

Tanya Blackmon, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Novant Health (Winston-Salem, N.C.). Ms. Blackmon is responsible for overseeing diversity and inclusion efforts for Novant Health. Prior to her current role, she held various other positions with Novant Health, including director of inpatient discharge planning, director of clinical improvement and community care services, and COO of Novant Health Charlotte (N.C.) Orthopedic Hospital. Most recently, she was president of Novant Health Huntersville (N.C.) Medical Center. Ms. Blackmon earned a master's degree in business administration from Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., and a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Ronald Copeland, MD, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Kaiser Permanente (Oakland, Calif.). Dr. Copeland was named to his position in 2012. Dr. Copeland was previously president and executive medical director of Ohio Permanente Medical Group in Cleveland. He earned his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati Medical College and completed his residency in general surgery at the State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.

Ricardo Forbes, Corporate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Baptist Health South Florida (Coral Gables). Mr. Forbes was named to his role in 2009. As corporate vice president and chief diversity officer, he is responsible for developing the strategy for diversity and inclusion programs at Baptist Health. Before then, Mr. Forbes was vice president of its affiliated Miami-based Baptist Hospital. Previously, he was administrative director at North Miami Beach, Fla.-based Parkway Regional Medical Center, which was acquired by Miami-based Jackson Health System from Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. and is now known as Jackson North Medical Center. He also previously served as an administrator at Miami-based Jackson Memorial Hospital and administrator of University of Miami Hospital and clinic. Mr. Forbes earned a master's degree in public health administration from New York University in New York City.

Cristy Garcia-Thomas, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Aurora Health Care (Milwaukee). Named to her role in 2014, Ms. Garcia-Thomas is the first chief diversity and inclusion officer for Aurora Health Care. Additionally, Ms. Garcia-Thomas serves as president of the Aurora Health Care Foundation. Prior to Aurora, she was president of the United Performing Arts Fund, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization that raises funds to support prominent performing arts groups in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Gloria Goins, Chief Diversity Officer, Bon Secours Health System (Marriottsville, Md.). Ms. Goins became chief diversity officer of Bon Secours in May 2014. In her role, she is responsible for leading the implementation of diversity and inclusion plan goals and initiatives for Bon Secours, among other things. Ms. Goins was previously vice president of business diversity outreach at Prudential Financial, an American Fortune Global 500 and Fortune 500 company. During her tenure with Prudential Financial, she managed a portfolio of 60 nonprofit organizations to create strategic business and recruiting relationships, and she was the company's subject matter expert on multicultural recruiting, marketing and sales initiatives. She earned a master's degree in business administration from Mercer University in Atlanta and a juris doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in Philadelphia.

Andres Gonzalez, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Froedtert Health (Milwaukee). Mr. Gonzalez is fairly new to his role. Named to his position in June 2015, he is responsible for overseeing the integration of diversity initiatives systemwide. Prior to joining Froedtert Health, Mr. Gonzalez was chief diversity and inclusion officer at Springfield, Mass.-based Baystate Health System, He was also previously director of diversity, community outreach and supplier diversity at Cleveland Clinic. Mr. Gonzalez earned a master's degree in education from Cleveland State University. He completed Cornell University's industrial and labor relations-diversity executive program in 2014, and is a credentialed Cornell certified diversity professional/advanced practitioner. He also has served as a diversity consultant for a number of national companies and organizations.

Ildemaro Gonzalez, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Parkland Health & Hospital System (Dallas). Mr. Gonzalez is Parkland's first chief diversity officer. Named to the position in 2014, he works to develop and oversee programs to enhance the diversity of the hospital's workforce, vendors and participation in civic and community organizations. Prior to Parkland, Mr. Gonzalez was global director of inclusion and philanthropy and senior manager of inclusion and diversity at Newell Rubbermaid, a global marketer of consumer and commercial products. He also previously worked at the American Cancer Society as manager of inclusion and organizational development. Mr. Gonzalez earned a master's degree in business administration from Atlanta-based Georgia State University, and he earned both global and senior professional in human resources designations through the Society of Human Resource Management.

Joseph Hill, Chief Diversity Officer, Jefferson (Philadelphia). Joseph Hill serves as chief diversity officer of Jefferson, which is made up of Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson University Hospitals, Jefferson Physicians and the university's innovation and philanthropy arms. Prior to Jefferson, Mr. Hill worked at Milwaukee-based Froedtert Health, where he developed a diversity and inclusion program. Under his leadership, Froedtert's diversity and inclusion team was nationally recognized for supplier diversity and healthcare equality. Mr. Hill earned a master's degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and a certificate in diversity management in healthcare from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and the Institute for Diversity in Health Management.

Leon McDougle, MD, Chief Diversity Officer, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (Columbus, Ohio). As the first chief diversity officer for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Dr. McDougle heads up initiatives to improve workforce diversity, inclusion/climate and cultural competency across the organization. He also is tasked with establishing collaborations with leaders of diversity programs at other health sciences colleges and the university. In addition to his chief diversity officer responsibilities, Dr. McDougle practices as a family physician and is a tenured associate professor of family medicine in The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, where he earned his medical degree.

Jennifer Mieres, MD, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Northwell Health (Great Neck, N.Y.). Dr. Mieres dons many hats at Northwell Health, formerly known as North Shore-LIJ Health System. She not only serves as chief diversity and inclusion officer, but also as senior vice president of the system's office of community and public health. Additionally, she is professor of cardiology and population health at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine in Hempstead, N.Y. Board certified in cardiovascular diseases and nuclear cardiology, Dr. Mieres is a Fellow of the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology. She is a graduate of Bennington (Vt.) College and Boston University School of Medicine.

James E. Page Jr., Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Johns Hopkins Medicine (Baltimore). Mr. Page was named to his position in 2014. Prior to his current role, he was assistant vice president and chief diversity officer at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, where he was responsible for helping to shape a culture focused on delivering culturally and linguistically competent care to patients from more than 85 countries, according to Johns Hopkins. Previously, Mr. Page was responsible for directing nationwide diversity across DaVita, a healthcare organization specializing in dialysis treatments. He also worked at Lancaster (Pa.) General Health, where he was vice president of diversity, inclusion and linguistics. Additionally, Mr. James worked for Dell as a leader in its global diversity, global ethics, compliance and privacy organizations for more than a decade. He earned a master's degree in business administration from The University of Texas at Austin.

Deborah L. Plummer, PhD, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion, UMass Memorial Health Care (Worcester, Mass.). Ms. Plummer serves as chief diversity officer for UMass Medical School and for UMass Memorial Medical Center and its medical group. In her role, she works with UMass Memorial Health Care leaders to develop and execute a diversity plan, and she works with system leaders to set the vision and provide leadership, strategic direction and coordination of all aspects of affirmative action/equal opportunity commitment and regulatory compliance obligations. In addition to her role as vice chancellor of diversity and inclusion, Ms. Plummer serves as professor in the departments of psychiatry, quantitative health sciences and the Graduate School of Nursing at UMass Medical School.


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