Published: July 25, 2020
Effective July 1, Sheritta Strong, M.D., became the director of inclusion at UNMC, reporting to Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.
Dr. Strong, an assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Psychiatry, became director of inclusion on an interim basis on Feb. 1. She now takes the role on a permanent basis.
Dr. Strong took over the new position, designed to help UNMC meet and expand its goals in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, at a time when the nation as a whole was continuing to come to grips with the longstanding effects of structural racism.
As protests were held over the deaths of Black men and persons of color — including George Floyd in Minneapolis and James Scurlock and Zachary Bearheels in Omaha — Dr. Strong was working with campus leaders and the UNMC community to foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment that is receptive to the changes required to increase diversity, equity and inclusion.
“This is a pivotal moment in the history of race relations in the United States,” Dr. Strong said. “With initiatives such as a leadership listening sessions, campus participation in the nationwide ‘White Coats for Black Lives’ event, creating this position and prioritizing inclusive space on campus, UNMC has shown it is open to being part of a positive change. I could not step away from this position now, when so much still needs to be done and so many people at UNMC are working hard to be part of making things better for the entire community.”
Dr. Strong said she has been asked multiple times about where to start.
“To begin having these tough conversations about racism and inclusivity, I recommend the resources from the McGoogan Health Sciences Library,” she said. “To further these conversations, we all must have a basic understanding of the forces in place that oppress marginalized groups in our society.”
UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., who appointed Dr. Strong in February, said the campus already has benefited from her work.
“Dr. Strong is an accomplished and passionate leader, and UNMC is fortunate to have her in this role,” he said. “We are a health care leader in the community, the state and the nation, and we need to lead in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as attacking health disparities in the communities that we serve. Dr. Strong is well positioned to help UNMC become a more inclusive campus that provides serious medicine and extraordinary care tothe people of the entire community.”
Source: Press Release, UNMC
LIVE from 24th and Lake (Virtual) and Launch of First Fridays
Published: December 4, 2020
Revive Omaha is excited to partner with Omaha African-American Employee Resource Groups, Black Employee Networks, the Empowerment Network and 30+ corporations, businesses and organizations, to announce the launch of:
LIVE! from The Village at 24th & Lake
A Virtual Event for African-American Professionals to Gather & Celebrate Black Culture
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2020
6 pm to 9 pm (ish)
The event is presented by Omaha African-American Employee Resource Groups, Black Employee Networks, African-American Professionals Networks, Empowerment Network, Revive Black Business Network and others.
Please register and join us for the introduction of First Fridays Omaha at 24th and Lake! On Friday, December 11, we will gather virtually for a one of kind social event geared to African-American professionals.
We will also provide more information on First Fridays Omaha which will start in January 2021. The events will begin virtually and evolve into in person events at 24th and Lake and other locations throughout the city.
Register here: https://firstfridaysomaha.com/
The event will feature three musical artists (Dani Cleveland, Big Wade and the Black Swan Theory and Maurisa Mansaray), a DJ, spoken word artist Felicia Webster, and interactive activities including games, art/painting, networking and much more. (and maybe a bit of virtual dancing)
Register free for the event. Order food from a black restaurant. Then, join us for this amazing virtual event on Friday, Dec. 11th.
The event builds on the success of the Empowerment Network’s African-American Leadership Conference, African-American Professionals Network, Redefine the Game and partnership with AAERG’s, BEN’s and Diversity & Inclusion Groups from corporations and organizations in Omaha.
Live from 24th and Lake is sponsored by OPPD, the Chief Human Resources Officers Leadership Council and Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Roundtable.
The first thing to do is to register.
Register here: https://firstfridaysomaha.com/
Aaron Austin, Chief Human Resource Officer & Senior Vice President, CHI Health
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
Revive Q&A: Jessica “Jay” Warren-Teamer, Director of Equity & Diversity, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
Published: November 14, 2020
Congratulations Jessica “Jay” Warren-Teamer. Thank you for your commitment to racial equity, diversity and inclusion.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska recently announced the appointment of Jessica “Jay” Warren-Teamer as director of diversity and inclusion.
Warren-Teamer has more than 10 years of experience in community outreach. Her recent work experiences include key roles serving as the community affairs coordinator at Mutual of Omaha and the director of community investment and workforce readiness with the United Way of the Midlands.
Warren-Teamer simultaneously has been very active in the community as co-founder of I Be Black Girl Omaha, a number of Young Professional networks and other change focused initiatives.
In her new role at BCBSNE, she will direct and develop the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and programs.
Revive! had the opportunity to ask Warren-Teamer seven key questions regarding her new role and the current environment related to race, equity, diversity and inclusion in Omaha.
Congratulations Jay and thank you for sharing such powerful, important and timely insights with us.
What interested you in the new role at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska?
“I wasn’t actively searching for a new role at the time, but saw the job posting and it piqued my interest. I loved how the role was framed to not only support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) internally at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE), but also in the community. A lot of job descriptions for these roles tend to focus on more compliance or legal requirements around this work, but this one seemed very different.”
“As Director of Diversity and Inclusion, I have the awesome opportunity to lead DEI efforts for the company at a time when it is more important than ever. I’ll be creating and driving strategy, knowing the work I do will create real impact for our employees, our members, and our community.”
What attracted you to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska?
“BCBSNE has a strong brand, and that certainly extends to us as an employer. While exploring a potential job change as a working mom in the middle of a pandemic, it was important to me that if I made a move, it was the right one. I had conversations with a few former/current employees to get their perspective on their experience, and they had great things to share. As I progressed through the interview process, I was continually impressed about the commitment to DEI and the community. I’ve been in my role since August 31st and it feels like I’ve been here much longer. My team and the various stakeholders I work with welcomed me with open arms and got me up to speed quickly. I’m glad I took the leap – it is a great fit.”
What are your goals for the position?
“All too often in some companies, DEI tends to be something that lives off on the side of someone’s desk or feels like an afterthought. I will be working to proactively integrate DEI into all functions of our business so that we are thinking about it early and often as we develop products, design processes and make decisions.”
“Before being appointed to this role, BCBSNE’s Diversity Inclusion Group (DIG), in partnership with Malorie Maddox, chief marketing, communications and strategy officer (and D&I executive sponsor), and employees from across the organization, did an incredible job of keeping this work moving. It was completely volunteer led by people who care deeply about this issue. I am committed to honoring the work that’s been done – and to taking it to the next level.”
What will be your initial areas of focus?
I’ve identified four primary areas of focus:
- Attracting, hiring, and retaining talent from underrepresented populations
- Growing and sustaining our ERGs
- Solidifying our commitment to DEI as a part of our brand
- Equipping leaders with the tools they need to be inclusive
What are your general thoughts about equity, diversity, and inclusion in Omaha?
“Omaha has gotten tons of recognition as a best place to raise a family, best place for startups and lots of other accolades. On face value, our unemployment is low, and we have strong economic performance. However, when we pull the layers back and disaggregate the data, not all Omahans get to experience “The Good Life.” For our city and state to continue to grow and truly become a place where all people have equal footing regardless of their zip code or color of their skin, DEI is a moral, business, and ethical imperative.”
What impact has the last six months had on your approach?
“Unfortunately, for many of us from marginalized communities, the events of the last six months are nothing new. The impacts of racism and “other” -isms have impacted our lives in real ways. What this moment in time has solidified for me is that we all come into our own awareness about these issues, and it is a journey, not a destination. I have become more committed to using my voice to educate others. I’ve also started to acknowledge the emotional labor and psychological toll that engaging in this work takes on you. I intentionally carve out time to do things that bring me joy – and unapologetically unplug when I need to.”
Anything else you would want to share?
“I’ve always been committed to making sure that all people – especially those who have been impacted by systemic and systematic inequities – have what they need to reach their full potential. However, I became a mom in December and that became much more important to me. I hope that through this role and my work in the community, my son grows up in an Omaha that allows him to thrive.”
Source: Revive Omaha Magazine