Guiding Coalition members are a powerful, enthusiastic group of Change Leaders that develop new strategies and put them into effect to transform the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS).

As part of the Racism and Bias Initiative’s (RBI) change management plan, our commitment is to establish a diverse guiding coalition of faculty, staff, leadership, and students from across the institution, who represent a cross-section of race, gender, ethnicity, departments and roles, and include individuals who identify as underrepresented in medicine (with a priority to those who self-identity as Black/African American).

Each member contributes unique skills, lived and professional experiences, perspectives and networks in order to enable the most innovative ideas to emerge. Collectively, the Guiding Coalition will be responsible for setting direction for the RBI.

The Guiding Coalition will:

  1. Oversee the change projects or actions.
  2. Identify options for implementation.
  3. Make decisions about where energy and resources should be focused.
  4. Determine how to hold people accountable, and manage resistance.

Each member will serve a one-year term and meets the following criteria for membership:

  • Value diversity comprehensively, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability and disability, age, and other factors that shape creative perspective and professional experience.
  • Demonstrate a high commitment to ending racism and the unearned privileges that white patients, medical students, house staff, medical educators, and staff benefit from
  • Be open-minded and willing to approach problems with awareness that one’s own perspective is not always the only valid perspective
  • Align personal goals and talents with the Racism and Bias Initiative agenda and vision
  • Create and cultivate an environment in which team members are invested in matters that promote equity
  • Desire to transform “Why we can’t” to “How we can
  • Effect change through actions—big and small
  • Execute change actions in current job function and role

Meet the Guiding Coalition of Change Leaders

Admissions Sphere
My name is Manjil Chatterji.
And I am an RBI Change Leader.

“My own personal guiding experiences are two-fold: First—and close to my heart—as a gay Indian, I have experienced the untoward effects of racism and bias in ways I never would have imagined. Racism in the gay community is often nuanced, but is healthy and alive despite a perceived historical sense of inclusivity.

Second, witnessing the myriad sequelae of racism and bias first-hand in medical education and patient care has been disheartening, to say the least. This new generational wave of student-led activism and protest is inspiring, especially in our current political climate. I feel fortunate to be a contributor to change in this realm, especially given the historical context and significance. I’m excited to learn more about principles of change management, and develop skills in transformative actualization. I’m eager to partner with allies in CMCA, curricular and student affairs, and the institution at-large to address bias and combat racism in all environments.”

 

My name is Jessica Maysonet.
And I am an RBI Change Leader.

“Becoming a change leader in the Racism and Bias Initiative is important to me as a person of color and the need to break down walls and barriers established to maintain a certain order. It is in my nature to help, to get an answer to a question, to make something better than when I arrived and when it comes to this particular topic I often feel helpless and hopeless that there will ever be a change for the better. This initiative coupled with the young people we work with, has given me a spark of optimism and sense of responsibility to be involved.”

My name is Valerie Parkas.
And I am an RBI Change Leader.

“I am committed to being a RBI change leader at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai because there is clear and sustained data and knowledge that there are disparities in healthcare and disparities in education here and nationally. The disparities in both medical outcomes and educational outcomes stem from fundamental bias and structural racism. We need to commit, as an institution and as individuals, to thinking through our day to day work as well as our long term mission oriented work. We need to commit to making small and big changes to address bias and racism in our policies, procedures, educational environment and clinical arenas.”

Clinical Sphere
My name is Seshat Mack.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I am a doctor-in-training here at Sinai. Since the beginning of my training, I’ve witnessed the ways our healthcare and healthcare education systems perpetuate racism and inequity. My generation and I will soon inherit this system, and it will be our responsibility to address its inequities. For it to be a system that I can stand by proudly, it has to change. To that end, I am committed to working to make our health system a just, fair, and equitable one.”

My name is David Muller.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I am committed to being part of the Guiding Coalition because I see it as my only chance to make a meaningful difference in eliminating racism and bias in my lifetime, at least within the part of the world that I can influence. It also feels like a process that will allow me to learn more, especially about myself, than anything else I’ve ever undertaken.”

My name is Natasha Ramsey.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“My dedication to diversity is unwavering and I continue to be involved in diversity as a resident participating in discussions on racism and bias and sit on the pediatric diversity committee. Given my dedication to equity and health disparities and my interest in global health, I see being a part of the Racism and Bias Initiative as integral to my professional development and an opportunity to continue work in an area that is so necessary.”

My name is Jonathan Ripp.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I know that I have a lot to learn personally around this issue and have the potential to contribute significant impact through my role as Chief Wellness Officer. Discrimination and bias no doubt exist as factors that erodephysician and trainee well-being and as such I see participation in the RBI as part of my job description. These are huge issues to tackle but, to paraphrase some of the initial RBI Town Hall speakers, ‘The time is now because if not now, when?'”

Curricular Affairs Sphere
My name is Marley Akonnor.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“The reason I would like to be a co-leader for the Guiding Coalition is a simple one. I fully understand what the world, and on a more micro level, this institution has the potential to be. Now, more than ever we live in a very divisive country and it saddens me to observe that creeping into Mount Sinai as well. Some may argue that this has already been the case for years but, in my time here I’ve witnessed love, joy, camaraderie, and compassion in a disproportionate amount. Students are our stakeholders, yes, but more importantly, they’re family and it is our job to make them feel at home.

My intentions in joining this initiative are nothing more and nothing less than the pursuit of truth and unequivocal transparency between my committee and the student body. Both sides are to be held accountable for our joined pursuit and that can only be achieved through the reciprocity of honesty and the genuine belief that WE are equally invested making this institution a better place.

My name is Reena Karani.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“There is no shortage of evidence that racism and bias is alive and well in medicine and science. As we move forward with an integrated Racism and Bias strategy intended to transform what we do in every way, my curricular affairs team and office will focus on the process and people sides of change-in addition to the content side. We are committed to this journey in partnership with many others from across the health system.”

 

My name is Joe Truglio.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I became a doctor to improve health and reduce health inequities.  Over the past several years it has become clear to me that there is not a single driver of health inequities more powerful than racism.  I have also come to realize that as a profession we do not adequately prepare our students and trainees to effectively mitigate racism in medicine, society or themselves.  This process was painful, and involved recognizing my own role within a racist system, and the ways my own biases have negatively impacted the very patients and communities I seek to serve.  While I recognize the influence of systemic and individual racism, I also firmly believe in the power of education, and that an antiracist curriculum can truly save lives.   I am honored to be a part of the guiding coalition.  I hope to contribute, grow, learn and be challenged as we work together for truly transformational change.”

 

Student Sphere
My name is Aiya Aboubakr.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I entered medical school with an appreciation for the extent to which health and disease are situated in complex, multi-factorial contexts beyond pathophysiology, and pharmacology. My understanding proved naïve, however, as I began my third year and witnessed disparities in care on a daily basis that left me feeling helpless: my mornings shadowing in our faculty practice were notably distinct from the afternoons in our clinic, but there was no conversation about it. I tried to come to terms with my motivation to pursue medicine and the reality of my medical training. I have since recognized that in order to do provide my vision of care, I must influence health beyond the confines of my exam room, and believe the Race and Bias Initiative is an opportunity will allow me to translate my interests into action as I contribute to the implementation of policies and practices that holistically address the well-being of our community.”

My name is Marlon Brewer.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“Social justice and equality are part of my value system and played a huge role in my decision to study critical race theory in college, and ultimately in my decision to become a physician. I am joining the Racism and Bias Initiative because I know that we have a lot of work to do in order to build a medical school and hospital environment for all.  More importantly though, I have joined the cause because I want to be part of the solution.  I look forward to self-reflection, asking difficult questions, and working with coalition members and my fellow classmates to improve our community for the incoming generation of students.”

My name is David Christian.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“As a person of color growing up in Saudi Arabia for the first 14 years of my life, I had the privilege of attending an international school. My concept of race was virtually non-existent, not because race and skin color were absent notions in the Middle East, but because I looked racially amorphous and people would mistakenly consider me Middle Eastern. From the day that I moved to the United States until now, I have begun to learn how race and ethnic origin play such a crucial role in one’s identity, history, and socioeconomic circumstances. Much of how I came to medicine, and Sinai specifically, has been to understand how institutions can help to improve the conditions of people who have and are being marginalized. As a member of the student sphere in the guiding coalition, I hope to work collaboratively and transparently with students, staff, and faculty, to tackle racism and bias within this institution so that Sinai’s actions and goals are in alignment with its mission statement.”

My name is Sara Haile.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“As a future medical professional, I have a responsibility to address the inherent racism that is present on both an institutional and interpersonal scale within our healthcare system. This responsibility compels me to take action through critical research on health disparities and by engaging in internal reform at Mount Sinai. Participating in the Guiding Coalition is an opportunity to use my knowledge and personal experiences-within and beyond this institution-  to create a more inclusive and equitable educational environment. Addressing racism at this pedagogical level is a necessary intervention to create a healthcare system that equally values the lives and perspectives of marginalized communities.”

My name is Giselle Lynch.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“The Race and Bias Initiative is an important personal and academic responsibility for me as a future physician. I believe that this institutional endeavor ventures to ask and provide solutions to difficult questions surrounding inequitable structures and policies in the hospital and medical school that result in poorer outcomes for the most marginalized. Through my participation in the Guiding Coalition, I hope to share in knowledge creation/dissemination and create interventions that will truly impact members of our Mount Sinai community who are impacted by intersecting systems of disenfranchisement. I take on this position with respect and honor for all of the patients, staff, faculty, and students who have contributed to this work of envisioning a healthcare system that values all.”

My name is Tyler McChane.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“As a new student with a long road ahead of me at Mount Sinai and a future life in medicine, I want to do all that I can to see that my peers and I will live, work, and learn in a community devoid of racism and bias. The dismantling of oppressive and inequitable structures in health care and medical education may be the most important task facing our generation of doctors and educators, and we can begin that transformation here and now. Therefore, I am encouraged to see a coalition of creative and thoughtful minds from all over the school coming together to that end. By taking part in the Racism and Bias Initiative, my hope is to learn from and collaborate with this amazing bunch and produce a transformative change that spreads beyond the confines of Mount Sinai.”

My name is Akila Pai.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I’m originally from Minnesota and attended the University of Minnesota and majored in Microbiology and African & African American Studies. While I have always had a desire to work in health care, I’ve always known I wanted my professional career to intersect with advocacy and social justice work. This is rooted in my personal experiences not only as a first-generation brown woman growing up in the Midwest, but also as a witness to various institutions that have historically failed — and still fail — people of color and people living in poverty.

After getting involved with the Health Equity Working Group and hearing from student experiences at this school, it became incredibly important to me to get involved in making sure that if our institution was to address systemic issues like Race and Bias — that it would be done in a way that centers the experiences of our students and patients.”

Student Affairs Sphere
My name is Monica Dweck.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“The Racism and Bias Initiative concerns areas that I have been interested in for a very long time. As a result of this interest, many of my activities in my life have been directed in trying to address these issues in whatever small way I could. My immediate and extended family have always been active in addressing issues of racism and bias. My activities began around age 12 and continued throughout high school, college and medical school. . I am excited to join this venture and work with this diverse group to help effect change on a broader basis.”

My name is Alicia Hurtado.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“As a Central American immigrant growing up in the South Bronx with a Jehovah’s Witness mother, I was always well aware of my “otherness.” My lack of exposure to White majority culture and language, and underserved education greatly impacted my ability to compete alongside my new peers. This was even truer in medical school where I found it more difficult to make up these socioeconomic /educational differences. I have many reasons for wanting to be part of this ambitious initiative, but the main reason is to make it less difficult for underrepresented/marginalized students to succeed in medical school by mitigating biases that impact student performance. I have personally experienced Sinai faculty mentorship and advocacy, and therefore it does not surprise me that Sinai is promoting an endeavor that can potentially change this inequity.

My name is Peter Gliatto.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“Becoming involved in the Racism and Bias Initiative is the most profound learning experience I have been a part of since I trained as a resident.  Student Affairs is a rewarding and challenging enterprise. We are tasked with supporting students through the transformative process of becoming a physician, and also of keeping students on task. These missions can sometimes feel like they run counter to each other. I think the balance between these aspects can best be done when we approach students with respect and curiosity, and I have been consistently impressed with the Student Affairs faculty and staff’s ability to do exactly that. But I think we can do better. We are eager to delve deeper into how we can achieve that, to get broad input, and to be really mindful about how we assist each student. Our increased pool of Faculty Advisors and hiring a Director of Academic Success are major wins for us, and I feel we are poised to really to have a greater impact than ever before.”

Student Resources Sphere
My name is Joy Colelli.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“It is still shocking to me, that some people still don’t see that racism and bias as unpatriotic and detrimental to our country.  So now I’m ready to try a different kind of activism: An activism that I know in my heart is the smarter, a better route although probably a slower route. An activism that starts with me, and my self- awareness (and sharing that self-awareness with others).

Enrollment Services is committed to serving all students, and whether or not we unknowingly operate within the confines of structural racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination is unknown to me, but I’m committed to finding that out with the rest of my team members as this is only successful if it is a collective process.”

My name is Kathleen Jackson.
And I am an RBI Change Leader.

“In 1991, I was working in the Admissions Office at Mercy College.  I was raised in a town that was 100 percent white, and predominantly Irish Catholic. During the racial diversity training I received, I was forced to look at myself critically and became aware that I did have racial biases, and could be considered a racist.  I wasn’t comfortable with that realization as I always considered myself to be a kind, fair, and non-judgmental person.

I began to challenge my attitudes and biases and continue to do so.  I still have some biases, but I’m more aware of them and I now react differently to people and situations because of that awareness.  I truly feel that I’m a better person because of my participation in the racial diversity initiative over 25 years ago.  Now that I’ve been offered the opportunity to be part of the Guiding Coalition for the Racism and Bias initiative at ISMMS, I feel like life is letting me know that it’s time once again to look critically at myself and help “make the world a better place”.  I see this as an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, and to learn from the wisdom and experience of others with the goal of helping to facilitate change.  Having previously been challenged to face and explore my own biases, I’m more self-aware and open to learning.  I feel that my leadership and problem-solving skills will equip me to be a productive team member.   I look forward to the opportunity for continued self-growth and to be part of promoting positive change.”

My name is Margaret Kane.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I am a white Latina. I was born and raised in south Florida to a Colombian Cuban mother and an Italian-American father in a Spanish-speaking household. Because of the color of my skin and European features, I have always had white privilege. It has taken many years, but I am now comfortable with and proud to discuss my ethnic identity.

The work involved in the Racism and Bias Initiative (RBI) guiding coalition is vital to breaking the silence and false pretense that there is no racism in this institution. I promise to challenge every instance of racism that I see or am informed of in my role as a Change Leader. I promise to give a voice to underrepresented students, staff and faculty. I promise to respect the experiences of my colleagues. And I promise to work towards meaningful change and equity in all areas of the medical school.”

My name is Peter Zweig.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I think we have the start of a very formidable group and there’s nothing like succeeding as a member of a well-functioning team. I’m looking forward to the professional challenge and anticipate a great deal of growth. I expect to enhance my knowledge and skills around project strategy and planning. And, most importantly, I’m personally motivated to fight racism in a tangible, lasting way and am glad to be in an environment where this is not only an expectation but a crucial priority.”

My name is Nelson Pe.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“‘When it gets warm out, these jungle people come out the woodworks.’

Those were the words that I overheard, around 20 years ago, from an older man; a father, presumably talking to his son, while taking a casual summer stroll in downtown Montclair, NJ. That very moment awakened me to the fact that real racism exists, racial identity and racial politics are something that absolutely needs to be something to care about, something that can’t be ignored, and something that has to be continually put into the spotlight. This society we live in has a long way to go. I do know is that I’m deeply dedicated to Mount Sinai. I was even born in this very hospital. I’ve been here for 17+ years and I’m dedicated to helping this School. This School has had its own “awakening” and I’m glad to be on a team that can have some meaningful effect to counter those very views that I experienced over 20 years ago.”

My name is Michelle Sainté.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I have always been interested in the writings of the intelligentsia in the area of race, racism, and oppression. I have dabbled in coursework, literature and seminars to understand and explore the ideas and methods of racial justice and anti-racist work. Despite my interests, social location and awareness, I was still ignorant to the culture and climate that plays out at this institution and other environments like ours. While I knew racism when I saw it, it was not always clear to me how my role and approach may have led to upholding those structures and principles that are at the foundation. It was not clear to me that I engaged in practices and behaviors that enabled racism to not only live, but thrive on my watch. I feel empowered by this process and strengthened by my expanded awareness. I remain excited by and committed to the success of the RBI.”

CMCA/ODI Resource
My name is Gary Butts.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“Through the GC, I aim to share my experiences and lessons learned over the past 2 decades in D&I, ensure that inclusive thoughts, perspectives and voices are expressed and to learn and grow with the GC team to impact our larger school community as well as my work in ODI. Successfully moving forward requires thoughtful, authentic and inclusive planning and deliberate and thorough examination and exploration of issues that contribute to and perpetuate racism and bias.  Our collective commitment to this effort is essential to having a tangible, sustainable impact on the quality of life, on our climate, and in closing opportunity and achievement gaps.”

My name is Ann-Gel Palermo.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“The lens of diversity and inclusion must be well-positioned in all the work we do in the RBI and most importantly in the Guiding Coalition since it is the body that will drive change direction and strategy in the identified spheres. Serving as a member of the Guiding Coalition will allow me to fulfill my commitment and provide and generate resources, tools, and frameworks that will enable my fellow change leaders to engage in active, ongoing practice of questioning and critical reflection that is grounded in the constructs of diversity, inclusion, equity, and anti-racism as we make decisions to advance transformational change.”

Guiding Coalition Support
My name is Shashi Anand.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I’m interested in the Guiding Coalition because I want to work towards creating an environment of equity for all who work and go to school at Mount Sinai. I’m particularly interested in educating people around the fundamentals of racism and Bias as well as giving them the tools to really self-reflect about where they sit with those things and look at ways in which they can actually make changes in their work.”

My name is Leona Hess.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“Racial justice is at my core; it underlies who I am and the work I do every day. As a woman of color, actively engaging in transforming racism is healing. I am deeply committed to designing processes to heighten awareness of how race and racism operate in our environments; deepening commitment to learning about, interrupting, and transforming these dynamics; and building our collective capacity to participate in, lead, and manage transformational change. My role in the guiding coalition is to facilitate and create a container for the Change Leaders to engage in an emergent process to develop new and innovative strategies to undo racism, oversee the transformational change targets, identify options for implementation and make decisions about where the energy and resources should be focused in order to transform ISMMS.”

My name is Muneeza Iqbal.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I grew up in a post-colonial world where ‘white is right’ was ingrained in us from a young age, despite the English having left decades earlier. Now, being an immigrant part of the health care industry, I have seen how destructive this notion really is. My native diet, lifestyle, and traditional health routines have been measured against a ‘white’ standard and deemed “incorrect” for my health without ever really being studied.

I am proud to be part of an institute that recognizes these flawed practices in the industry, and want to be part of the change in this mindset. Working with equally enthusiastic colleagues and students gives me hope for the future of health care.”

My name is Bee Jaworski.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I spent my undergraduate years doing research under the umbrella of American Studies. For me, this involved tracking and learning about prominent social issues, their history, and their contemporary status; ultimately, I hoped to discover pathways for enacting change. I am so excited to be in an environment and institution that is actively engaging with these issues, and searching for ways to guide and create change. I hope to contribute my commitment and enthusiasm for bias and identity work to the RBI effort, and also to discover where my efforts and understanding have fallen short so I can continue to learn, grow, and contribute more meaningfully.”

My name is Sally Stranges.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“Joining the Racism and Bias Initiative is important to me because of my having grown up in a culturally diverse family, many of whom are social workers and advocates.  From a young age I’ve seen first-hand the socio-economic disparities among minority groups in the communities around me, but wasn’t always able to translate that knowledge into meaningful action.  I’m very excited to now have a supportive role in the Guiding Coalition, and look forward to being able to contribute to an organization that is working hard to not only address the systemic issues that exist in medical education, but to celebrate the diversity of our medical community and continue to enact positive changes in all identified spheres within ISMMS.”