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Published:  November 28, 2020

Aaron Austin joined the CHI Health Midwest team during the spring of 2019.  Austin has hit the ground running.  His innovative approach to human resources is responsible for measurable results in the area of diversity and inclusion at CHI Health.

“When I came to CHI, the CEO Cliff Robertson told me ‘we want to reflect the community’,” said Austin.  “Cliff said, ‘my challenge to the leadership team is this is important to me and we need to make this a priority’.”

“Commitment from leadership has to be the top priority,” emphasized Austin.  “Leadership must be on board to make this work happen and make sure things are getting done.”

As part of his initial work, Aaron has introduced the use of candidate slates for all positions at the Director and above level.  In just one year, the strategy has achieved 40% of positions having a diverse group of candidates.  His work is already making an impact as leadership in the company is on its way to increasing diversity and inclusion.

Aaron shared these insights at the recent African-American Leadership Conference.

“My first thoughts were to talk about and implement candidate slate.  In order to become more diverse in our leadership ranks, we need to slate.”

“Right now, we are at about 40% of our director and above positions are being slated.  We are making progress as our demographics are changing within the organization.  In the first year, we brought in six new diverse leaders.  This year, COVID has slowed us down, but we have brought in two more leaders.  In the next three years, we would like to get to 100% in our slating.”

Austin and his team are expanding initiatives to make CHI Health a more diverse organization and more closely resemble its client base and the community.  The group is also working with recruitment firms that have strong records of success in identifying and selecting talented minority candidates.  They are recruiting locally and nationally.

“When you talk about inclusion, you are really talking about courage,” said Austin. “You must have courage to take on this work.  You must also be intentional.”

Austin also became immediately engaged in the community by partnering with the 100 Black Men of Omaha and the Empowerment Network.  For the past two years, Austin has been a featured speaker at the Empowerment Network’s annual African-American Leadership Conference.

He’s also active with the Empowerment Network’s CHRO Leadership Roundtable.  Austin is helping to drive change and prepare a better future for young men in Omaha through his support and involvement with the 100.

Aaron is the Division Senior Vice President/Chief Human Resources Officer of Human Resources for CHI Health and St. Alexius Health, serving 18 hospitals in 3 states. He also serves as a key member of the Human Resources Leadership Council of CommonSpirit Health, which is the nation’s largest nonprofit, Catholic health system.

Created in February 2019 through the alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health, CommonSpirit Health is dedicated to advancing health for all people through delivering exceptional patient care, and ensuring every person has access to quality health care.

Aaron has a real commitment to helping people develop and grow into the best versions of themselves. That is the passion that drove him into Human Resources where he felt he could make real differences in the lives of those he served.

Aaron served his country for over 20 years in the United States Navy, where he obtained a bachelor’s of science degree in Workforce Development, graduating Cum Laude. During his service, he was responsible for promotions, recruitment, leadership development, employee relations and combat information systems, Aaron retired and went to work in the banking industry. Aaron later transitioned into healthcare and later earned an MBA with a concentration in Health Care Administration, again graduating Summa Cum Laude. He has served healthcare systems across the Midwest.

Aaron is forward-thinking and accomplished, particularly in the areas of employee engagement, talent acquisition and leader development. He and his wonderful wife Janice have three adult children and seven grandchildren. When he’s not working, he enjoys family time, sports, jazz and urban ballroom dancing.

Source:  Revive Omaha Magazine


David Pollock launches Code Black to bring people of color into tech

Published:  January 20, 2022

David Pollock is on a mission.  Driven by purpose and a clear vision to see his beloved community empowered, David is helping to bring African-Americans and people of color further into the tech industries.

To accomplish his goal, David has launched Code Black, a non-profit organization focused on fostering collaboration and sponsorship between Black and Latinx who are emerging and experienced professionals in technology.

He launched the organization in the midst of the pandemic which is a great example of his commitment to the cause.  He reached out to professionals in the industry and other leaders in the community to make sure he was creating something that would be of value to others.

Pollock did the work necessary to build a solid foundation.  After years of preparation, he stepped out in faith to make it a reality.

While others pulled back during the pandemic, he continued to push forward.  He is also a strong believer in collaboration and team work.  Others have joined in to support him with his mission.  It’s a beautiful thing to see, preparation meet opportunity.

David not only believes in the importance of education, he is leading by example in that area as well.  David obtained his master’s in Organizational Leadership from Bellevue University.

He is also able to speak the language of those he seeks to see empowered.  David’s tech experience and certifications consist of in IBM Cognitive Analytics (Chatbot), Grow with Google (app development), Drone software developer, Software: Airsim – Unreal Engine 4 – Watson Image Classification system, Languages: Java, C++ and Python.

Before starting Code Black, David worked 3 ½ years as a Fatherhood Coordinator and 4 ½ years as a college success advisor for students of color.  These experiences allowed him to gain additional insights on how he could better serve his own community.

After a successful career in coaching, mentoring and developing programs, David is now leading the way with others to create an organization where Black and Latinx in technology impact the very community that they live in.  His initial focus is the State of Nebraska.

Most importantly, David is a dedicated husband and father.  He and his wife are consistently engaged in work to improve their community and highly regarded in the areas of leadership development, career advancement, tech, diversity and inclusion and innovation.

David is available for community networking and for business collaboration.  You can reach David at 402-515-8865 or

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Shavonne Washington-Krauth inaugural Director of Culture & Inclusion at Children’s Hospital

Published:  January 19, 2022

Shavonne Washington-Krauth is the inaugural Culture and Inclusion Director for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.

In mid-2018 Children’s Hospital & Medical Center began intensive conversations about their desire to do more focused and intentional work related to diversity and inclusion within the organization.

By July 2019, Children’s had hired its inaugural Culture and Inclusion Manager, Shavonne Washington-Krauth. Since that time, Children’s has been working to provide a more diverse and inclusive workplace experience for employees by focusing on programming, systems, and policy concepts.

They have also been working in the realm of creating a more inclusive experience for their patients and families. Due to the success and level of influence she was having in her role, Children’s promoted Shavonne to the Director of Culture and Inclusion one year after she joined the organization, and is now adding a new member to her team.

Children’s is proud of the progress made in the past 2 ½ years and looks forward to seeing how much more they will accomplish.

Ms. Washington-Krauth’s responsibilities include the creation and revision of systems, policies, opportunities, and environments in which everyone can not only work, but thrive at a more equitable rate without feeling excluded or marginalized.

She also leads the development and implementation of a culture, diversity, and inclusion strategic framework; supervision of six employee resource groups and serves as an advisor or subject matter expert on topics regarding the organization’s culture, diversity, and inclusion efforts.

Ms. Washington-Krauth holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, a master’s degree in health education, is a Prosci-certified Change Management Practitioner, and a trained Bridges Out of Poverty facilitator.  Washington-Krauth is also a graduate of the Empowerment Network and BCT Partners’ Redefine the Game Institute.

Shavonne is dedicated and committed to the success of her community.  She serves on the board of the Latino Center of the Midlands in South Omaha and Union for Contemporary Art in North Omaha.

She is a self-proclaimed “Air Force Brat” currently living in Omaha with her husband, two sons, two dogs, a fish, and three chickens.

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Redefine the Game celebrates graduation of 3 cohorts and launch of the 4th

In 2021, The Empowerment Network and BCT Partners completed the 3rd and started the 4th Cohort of the nationally recognized Redefine the Game Institute.

A graduation ceremony for the 2nd and 3rd cohorts was held in June of 2021. The 4th cohort held its first class in November 2021 and will finish in September 2022.

Launched in 2018, by the Empowerment Network, BCT Partners and WDB Resultants, Redefine the Game is a highly interactive, career advancement and leadership development program.

It brings together African-American professionals from all sectors and engages them in a year long development experience which helps them to prepare for the next phase of their career.

Participants have the opportunity to rediscover their passions, purpose and ground themselves by reviewing their core values. From there they complete an assessment which helps them to understand how they make decisions, ways to interact with others more effectively and provides insights on how to use their strengths to maximize individual and collective work.

Over the period of the program, the class walks through the ten game changing strategies identified in the best selling book, Black Faces in White Places, written by Dr. Randal Pinkett and Dr. Jeffrey Robinson.

Pinkett and Robinson co-facilitate Redefine the Game, along with Willie Barney of the Empowerment Network and WDB Resultants and Damita Byrd with BCT Partners. Barney and Byrd worked together to develop the vision for the the cohort program and partnered with Pinkett and Robinson to bring it to reality.

It has made a measurable impact after just three cohorts. Over 40 corporations, businesses and organizations have sent employees through the program.

“We had thought about creating a course based on our book, but didn’t get around to doing it,” said Pinkett. “Then, Willie and Damita came to us with the vision and made it happen in a very short amount of time. Now, corporations and organizations across the country are inquiring about RTG.”

Including this cohort, 125 Black professionals and community leaders in Omaha will have participated. Of those who have completed the course, 70% have been promoted on their job.

“They were already doing great work and now have earned advancement and leadership opportunities through their own abilities, relationship building and utilization of their unique skill set,” said Barney.

“Alumni tell us that RTG helps provide them with an edge and the insights they need to better navigate their environments successfully,” added Byrd.

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