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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

Careers

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.

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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Careers

Redefine the Game celebrates completion 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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Careers

Shawntal Mallory makes history as first Director of Nebraska Legal Diversity Council

Published:  January 8, 2022

Shawntal M. Mallory was recently announced as the first Executive Director of the Nebraska Legal Diversity Council, a newly formed nonprofit organization aiming to increase and support diversity in the practice of law and law school matriculation in Nebraska.

“I am optimistic and excited about this timely opportunity to partner with so many entities within the Nebraska legal community to formalize and flourish our efforts toward greater diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and access in our beloved profession,” said Mallory.

Shawntal is a native of Omaha, Nebraska. She was educated at Creighton University and Creighton University School of Law where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and her Juris Doctorate, respectively.

A licensed attorney, over the course of her fifteen-year practice, she has specialized in adoption, juvenile, family, and employment law while serving in nonprofit executive positions as general counsel and in human resources.   Mallory also serves as an adjunct Law Professor at Creighton Law School teaching a Race & Law course she developed.

She is a highly sought after and featured speaker, trainer, coach and consultant on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, access, justice and belonging.   Shawntal is certified in Nonprofit Executive Leadership and Leading Equity & Inclusion in Organizations through Northwestern University.

She is dedicated to continuous education, life-long learning and serves as an inspiring mentor to many.  Mallory is the co-founder of the Nebraska Association of African American HR Professionals, an Inclusive Communities LeadDIVERSITY Advocate and a graduate of Leadership Omaha Class 31.  Shawntal serves on the Boards of Inclusive Communities and Lamp Rynearson and is a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Commissioner.

Mallory is committed to her community serving in a variety of roles.  She is an active community volunteer, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and attends Salem Baptist Church. She has earned a number of awards including, the 2009 TOYO recipient and the 2021 Nebraska State Bar Association Diversity Award.

Shawntal’s favorite role is mom to her two sons.

Mallory had this to say about her new role with the Nebraska Legal Diversity Council:

“I am so thankful for the confidence of the Board and I look forward to leading this new organization in this important work.”

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