Now Introducing the Guiding Coalition—Change Leaders of RBI

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 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 Alyson Mehr.
And I am an RBI Change Leader.

“I am a social worker with a long-standing commitment to enhancing educational opportunities for underrepresented youth. We will not be able to create meaningful change, or reach our full potential as a nation, until we examine the structural inequities that contribute to a lack of access to quality education, healthcare and opportunities for Black and brown communities. For me, becoming a change leader in the Racism and Bias Initiative is about putting in the work needed to make an impact.”


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 Victoria Hartman.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I am a licensed clinical social worker. My passion is working with underserved and underrepresented pediatric patients experiencing chronic illness. As a woman of color and a social worker, the RBI initiative hits very close to home both personally and professionally. I have witnessed how racism and bias can impact a patient’s medical care and health outcomes. I have also witnessed how everyday racism and unconscious bias can influence the way we work together as colleagues and team members. I am inspired by our medical students at the Icahn School of Medicine who have been bravely leading the charge against health inequity and social injustice within medicine and our institution. I joined the RBI initiative to help promote change on an institutional level. I believe that together we can create a culture at Mount Sinai that embraces and celebrates diversity and inclusion.”

My name is Will Kuo.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I originally became a Social Worker and Psychotherapist because I always had a passion for working directly with others and creating an impact on an individual level. However, individuals don’t live in a vacuum. Our environment which includes institutionalized racism and bias, are often out of an individual’s control, and cannot be adequately addressed on an individual level. Change needs to occur at the institutional level too, which is why I became involved in the Racism and Bias Initiative (RBI). Through my work I have also come to realize the importance of recognizing how my own biases can negatively impact others as well as how the environment may have shaped me in becoming complicit with the status quo of a racist and biased system.”

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 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?'”

My name is Danielle Weiss.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“As a pediatric social worker, I often witness the negative impacts of health disparities. I joined the Racism and Bias Initiative because I believe it is an important time to advocate for a system of equality and I am excited to be part of an institution that supports these ideals, both for patients and staff. This initiative and transformation process has been an important part of my professional development and I look forward to continuing not only the work within our sphere, but also, diversifying my own education and perspective throughout this experience.”

Curricular Affairs Sphere
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 Rainier Soriano.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.


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 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 Jennifer Dias.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I decided to join the Guiding Coalition to honor the sacrifices of my ancestors. As an Afro-Latinx Black cisgender woman, I recognize the responsibility that comes with the power of my (future) MD degree and I want to leverage my privilege to amplify historically excluded experiences. This space gives me a sense of belonging that empowers me to think creatively and reimagine structures that steer us toward transformational change.”

My name is Axel Epie.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.


“I have always valued the importance of individuals being assessed purely on the basis of their worth and grew up with parents who encouraged me to be the best individual I could to change this world. When I arrived in the United States from Gabon, Central Africa and began to become aware of the social issues that mar this society, largely embedded within its historical constructs, it motivated me even more to be someone who could facilitate change. I have always believed that I was blessed to have been exposed to individuals of different creeds, ethnicities, and life perspectives growing up. This in a way made me aware of what different values people may hold dear but also made me more sensitive to the social, racial and systemic injustices that impede particular groups of people from achieving their full potential. For me, being a change leader is to challenge individuals to think critically about the status quo, how they may benefit from it and how others may be negatively impacted by it. I see it as a means for myself to grow into a more socially aware individual, but also to bring about a healthy discomfort that is often necessary to get us all to think more about the state of the world that we live and how that affects the institutions we may be a part of. It is of utmost importance that students, faculty and any individual within the Sinai system feel as if their voice matters, that their path to success is nurtured and that their worth is recognized as much as the next person. In this way we can continue to build on the strength of the Sinai community and foster an even more diverse and powerful culture. It is a mission I want to contribute to and for that, I chose to become a change leader.”

My name is Paloma Orozco Scott.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I joined the guiding coalition because I wanted to be a part of making systemic changes at Mt. Sinai Medical School and in medical education more broadly. I joined because it’s a group of people who have similarly been fighting for anti-racism for a long time but in a multitude of different ways, and I get to learn from and work alongside them. Lastly, I joined the guiding coalition because I want to be part of pushing the conversation and the change forward, I do not want things to be the same in health institutions 5 years down the line.”

My name is Francesca Silvestri.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“Race, racism, and white supremacy culture are so ingrained within medicine and how it functions, often in subconscious ways we have never realized nor questioned. It was not until I went to an implicit bias and racism training at the beginning of my first semester of medical school that I began to realize the extent to which these ideologies operate within medicine and how we as medical students facilitate and gain value from that system. So, I joined the Guiding Coalition to delve into ways these systems of race, racism, white supremacy culture, and beyond function in the different spheres of the Mount Sinai institution and work to develop a landscape that breaks down those ingrained norms.”

My name is Ruben Vega Perez.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.


“I’m originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and grew up in the Tijuana-San Diego bi-national metropolitan area. As a first-generation immigrant in the United States, I have a personal understating of the barriers communities of color face to access the care they need.  As a student of medicine and public health, I am committed to addressing the structural factors that despite having no place in our society continue to negatively impact the health of vulnerable populations.  I am convinced this collective work can be taken up by anyone who interacts and has a stake in health care.  As members of institutions that have historical and existent impacts on the status quo, it is up to us to help shape their future as agents of change. To that end, it is my hope that our work through the Racism and Bias Initiative can help move Mount Sinai forward by institutionalizing equity itself.”


We’d also like to introduce new first-year student members: Bethany Dubois, Shardonay Pagett,  Claire Ufongene, and Emily Xu.

Student Affairs Sphere
My name is Daniel Conover.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I decided to join the Guiding Coalition because I know there is still much work to do when it comes to dismantling racism and bias in our communities, and we are in a position where we can make a difference here in our Icahn community. I realize that all of our actions, big and small, can either promote or stall change.  I am looking forward to learning from others on the coalition about how I can be more impactful in promoting positive change and executing actions that create a more equitable learning environment for our students.”

My name is Tara Cunningham.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

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 Lauren Linkowski.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

IME - Medical Education Grand Rounds - Mount Sinai Health System

“During my career in teaching and education, I have seen firsthand the way schools and institutions can either support or deconstruct entrenched racism and bias, so I am excited to work as part of a team that will reflect on existing processes and advocate for equity and inclusion. I also really enjoy working on long-term projects and systems change, and this seems like a pivotal point at which these things can be accomplished. Finally, I am looking forward to being held accountable to learning and planning from an anti-racist perspective.”

My name is Maria Maldonado.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.


“My interest in medicine evolved as I accompanied my grandmother who had Medicaid to her medical appointments.  I witnessed many unsettling inequities in our healthcare system, and I resolved to become a primary care physician who delivered equitable medical care to all of my patients. During my career as an internist and medical educator, I have been most passionate about how we communicate with patients and the messages we send them, and have worked to implement curriculum for my learners to address these areas. Since coming to Sinai, I have had the opportunity to facilitate some student groups for Dr. Joe Truglio and Dr. Ann-Gel Palermo’s ground-breaking and innovative racism and bias curriculum. I knew that the students were getting access to a marvelous education, and at the same time I wondered how this could disseminated to trainees and faculty in the graduate medical education arena as well.  Racism and bias are baked into our social institutions, and I think one of the first important steps is to acknowledge its impact and legacy.  Importantly, the RBI does just that. I spend a lot of time thinking about the following questions: what would we be doing differently if we cared about creating authentic equity in healthcare, and how do we train our learners to be true advocates and change agents in this journey?  And if we know that part of mitigating health care disparities is to ensure a diverse healthcare workforce, how do we create the kind of environment where we ALL thrive and are supported? I hope that my interest, work and experience is addressing implicit bias and creating curriculum on equitable patient-centered care will be of use to this initiative, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves as we work together to create a model for a just and equitable enterprise.”


My name is Talia Swartz.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

Talia Swartz | Mount Sinai - New York

“I am committed to make change. As a physician scientist navigating the worlds of patient care, research, and education, I am aware of deep-seated constructs that prevent us all from building diverse and inclusive teams in biomedicine. I’m committed to working with this talented and passionate group to examine our practices, break down barriers, and create more fair and equitable practices. It is my hope that this work together will allow us to create a sustainable culture in which we redefine excellence, encourage meaningful dialogue, and learn and teach each other.”


Student Resources Sphere
My name is Brendan Bullen.
And I am an RBI Change Leader.

I’m interested in the Guiding Coalition because I want to make a difference in the space of Academic Medicine. I consider quality healthcare to be a basic human right and our physicians, medical students/trainees, faculty, and staff are all part of a larger conduit in the delivery of that healthcare. Racism and Bias continues to disproportionately affect minorities in a variety of spaces; in healthcare this could literally mean life or death. I am committed to being part of a solution and approach that seeks to dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate this type of inequality. The Guiding Coalition provides the space and gives us a voice to have an impact on policies and systems using a lens of equity and inclusion.”


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.”

My name is Sharoya Sales.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

As a woman of color who has worked in Higher Education for over 14 years I have witnessed numerous biases that I wish did not exist. The type of work ethic I embody helps me connect with all kinds of individuals irrespective of race or economic background; as I continue to learn and grow myself, I would like for others to share in this school of thought. My philosophy, which guides me personally and professionally, is that we never know what a person brings to the table unless they are given a chance and I believe every person deserves to be seen, heard, and accounted for. I prefer to be part of a solution rather than contribute to a problem. For me, participating in the Guiding Coalition of Change helps me do just that.

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 LaVerne Walker.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I’m optimistically joining the Guiding Coalition because, as Michael Enzi said, “‘f you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’

 As a seasoned financial aid professional who dedicated my career to student financial services, relationship management, and educating students and their families of all backgrounds, at times, I’m naively surprised to witness discrimination within the walls of higher learning.  Therefore, I would be negligent not to participate in a think-tank that strategically fosters changes that will implement a diverse, inclusive environment for its staff and students.”

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 Alia Barnes.
And I’m an RBI Change Leader.

“I joined the Guiding Coalition because I wanted to be a part of the change. It takes genuine commitment, dedication, and patience for change to occur and move to taking an anti-racist stance in our institution. Racism manifests itself in all aspects of our society – especially in our work and school environment. If we spend the majority of our time at work or school, why not try to make it a better place for us all?”

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.”

The Guiding Coalition would like to extend a special thanks to our past Change Leaders:
Aiya Aboubakr, Marley Akonnor, Marlon Brewer, Manjil Chatterji, Joy Colelli, Peter Gliatto, Sara Haile, Alicia Hurtado, Muneeza Iqbal, Maggie Kane, Reena Karani, Kathleen Jackson, Bee Jaworski, Giselle Lynch, Seshat Mack, Tyler McChane, Akila Pai, Nelson Pe, Natasha Ramsey, and Sally Stranges. Thank you for your service, support, and continued advocacy.

This post was originally published on April 30, 2018. Since then, it has been updated and republished.

Update on Sphere Interactive Sessions: Process for Learning What Needs to Change

Update on Sphere Interactive Sessions: Process for Learning What Needs to Change

After the June sphere interactive sessions with faculty, students, staff, and other stakeholders, the spheres met as a group to reflect on where they were at in the process of identifying what needs to change.  Check it out.

Admissions Sphere

In Admissions we are tasked with evaluating, selecting, and recruiting the incoming class of medical students for the School. With that large task we have numerous factors that we consider in holistic review including the applicant’s passion for the profession, academic achievements, commitment to advocacy, clinical medicine and research, as well as their experience in a previous career or an extracurricular activity. Fundamental to this evaluation is a commitment to equity in the process—parsing out how facing bias, having less educational opportunity or fewer mentors may have played a role in an applicant’s trajectory.

There are numerous factors that must be considered in achieving a holistic admissions process that achieves equitable evaluations and builds a diverse class of incoming students. Our image is of a baton being passed from one runner to another. Wework to build a class of 140 unique individuals with diversity as the cornerstone of our efforts. We strive for geographic, racial, ethnic and economic diversity in the class. We recruit applicants with different educational pathways to medicine who have different passions within medicine.

Photography; Bellurget Jean Louis, Getty Images

We build relationships with colleges, high schools, and pipeline programs across the region and the country. We cultivate our ties with young people who are interested in medicine and science and act as mentors and advisors as they proceed on this pathway. We also work with pre-health advisors and high school and college educators to try to guide and inspire young people from all communities. This team approach is analogous to a baton being passed from one teammate in the undergraduate landscape to us in the medical school.

We meticulously tend to the applicant pool to make the class of individuals represent the future health care workforce. Then we pass the class over to our Curriculum and Student Affairs colleagues in the School—much like a teammate passes on the baton to another teammate. Each unique individual makes up an important part of the whole class.

The Admissions Sphere identified the following possible change target areas that have emerged thus far:

  • Strengthen the communication and dialogue with those intimately involved with student life, student resources, and student learning to more deeply understand how our decisions in holistic review play out in the student’s lived experience at the School.
  • Strengthen the training of Admissions Committee members to more deeply understand equity and to use this lens in evaluation and selection.
  • Increase diversity of committee members to better align with our diverse applicant pool.
  • Strengthen support for students in pipeline programs including our own programs and our own early assurance program to allow for equity in these programs.

Call to Action

As we continue to build upon the work we have done so far of identifying areas for growth and change we would appreciate any thoughts or feedback, especially from students, residents and fellows who have a unique perspective having been through the Admissions process in recent years. If you are interested in working with us or would simply like to send some input please let us know by emailing Jessica Maysonet, Manjil Chatterji, or Valerie Parkas.

Clinical Sphere

We are currently at a perilous point in our journey to identify change targets. We have come a long way, but still have a long way to go. We’ve mustered the courage to name some of our demons and are poised to confront them.

Photography, Janis

Call to Action

We are currently in the process of reflecting on the information gathered and identifying next steps. Stay tuned for more details.

Curricular Affairs Sphere

Since the inception of this journey we have learned and discovered a tremendous amount. Not only about the underlying symptoms and manifestations of racism within medicine and medical education, but also about how dedicated and committed we need to be to eliminating it.

We could find no image that better represented our journey than the one selected. The image depicts the literal and metaphorical journey we are all undertaking together. The existence of this initiative and the amount of buy-in we have at different levels of the organization denotes a tremendous amount of progress to date. However, while the mountain peak is far, it’s a visible goal that exists as a noble pursuit.

Photography, Jackman Chiu

All members are preparing simultaneously for the arduous task ahead. Each person is ready to carry their own baggage and belongings as they progress. As members of a team, they are happy to support one another. If one member fails to reach the summit then it will not feel like a true victory. We learn and move forward together replacing each other’s weaknesses with our strengths. Commitment to the journey is key; the nobility of the task at hand engenders loyalty to the journey in hopes of a vision that transcends us all as individuals.

Lastly, while members in the image are all in different areas, they are all in the same location. Oftentimes faculty or students may feel as if we are speaking from a point of superiority not only from the standpoint of nomenclature but ethically as well. This is not the case. We are all here, we are all present, and we rise and fall as one.

Call to Action

We welcome hearing from you regarding your racism and bias faculty development needs specific to your roles as educators of our medical students. Please look out for a survey to follow. In the meantime, you can e-mail Marley Akonnor.


Student Sphere 

At this point in time we are continuing to consolidate the viewpoints of the students actively engaged in the Guiding Coalition, as well as students underrepresented in medicine within the study body. We recognize that as a student body, all students, and particularly students of color, have had unique lived experiences as they have traversed through the social and medical environment. Thus, students have highlighted a wide range of incidents that could be addressed with specific changes in policy and structures within this institution, however, as an effort to create an environment free of racism and bias, this work has created an opportunity to think more broadly. In this process we have been reflecting upon the need to define patterns, structures, mental models, and values that promote racism and bias in both implicit and explicit ways throughout this institution. 

Call to Action

Are you curious about what the Racism and Bias Initiative is up to? We are the students involved in the ongoing Guiding Coalition meetings and we want to remain transparent and accountable to the students, so we need student input! We are currently in Phase 3, where we want student feedback to help determine what needs to change in order for us to provide health care and education that is free of racism and bias.

How do we get there? Please contact us with questions and concerns at

Student Affairs Sphere

Despite the feeling that we are unsure of what change will look like, we are hopeful that we will be able to serve URiM students better. We are grateful to be engaging in this process and trust that the process will lead us to change targets that will improve the medical experience for URiM students. The process is both ambiguous and amorphous while being directive and purposeful.  We are sure that more student input is necessary. Over the next month, we are developing a more detailed call to action specifically targeting students.

The Student Affairs Sphere identified the following as potential areas of change:

Build Trust

To be effective, Student Affairs needs to earn the trust of students of color. That is our number one priority. We have found through student feedback that there are certain interactions and approaches that we can improve upon. Through this initiative and self-reflection and discussion, we will be able to address these issues. We are becoming more aware of the needs of disenfranchised students and how established policies may at times not take into consideration or be in conflict with their individual needs (i.e., housing, financial, and child care needs). How can we be equitable and consistent across Faculty Advisors? How to be more effective balancing support with making sure students meet milestones and expectations?

Increase Student Resources and Support

Part of this is marketing (many students don’t know who we are and what we do), and part of this is the fact that medicine is a culture where it is still taboo to admit vulnerability and ask for help. How do we reconcile our message to reach out for help with the larger culture of medicine perception that doctors and other high functioning individuals do not need help or ask for it?

Photography, Robert Crawford

Other reflections:

Prevalence and Surprisingly Powerful

Recently, we discussed identifying and trying to get ahead of polarizing events that occur among the student body, Medical Education faculty and staff. We discussed that certain events are inherently divisive, as individuals tend to identify with the alleged aggressor or the person that has been victimized.  Developing strategies that can minimize splitting will also help us be more equitable as students often feel that at times, we are inconsistent when setting limits. Strategies include having a messaging plan, face time with relevant parties, transparency in decision making, and closing the loop about decisions or actions.

Ripple Effects

We want to address the student body’s resistance to seeking mental health services. Seeking mental health treatment is a difficult decision to make, but medical students are particularly resistant to obtaining mental health services. Imagine the impacting and wonderful, lasting ripple effects that destigmatizing mental health treatment would have on our students? This might be particularly relevant for our URiM students who may not seek treatment because of the culturally bound beliefs that are associated with obtaining such services, and the lack of resources. What are the spoken and unspoken messages that we convey that perpetuate the strongly held belief in medicine that high functioning individuals do not seek help or need mental health services?  We also need to make sure our mental health services are more accessible, and that we recruit providers of color.


We realize that we need to become a haven for students of color, financially disadvantaged students, and students who face obstacles in achieving their goals and potential. Our job must be to help them overcome barriers, to remove obstacles, and celebrate successes.


Student Resources Sphere

After our two sphere sessions, which included Housing, Security, IT, and other stakeholders, we felt that the we needed a larger presence of students in our process. The scope of our sphere is much more multifaceted than originally anticipated. We are beginning to chip away at the many dimensions that intersect with the Student Resources Sphere.

What has emerged is that the voice of students is essential to complete this phase of our work. We will invite members of the Student Sphere, along with three students who initially signed up for our sphere, to attend a focus group session. 

Our goal for this session is to get a deeper understanding of the student experience and to assist with identifying our change targets from all perspectives.

We will then be better equipped to begin identifying our change targets.

Call to Action

The Student Resources Sphere is actively working towards identifying change targets by eliciting feedback from students, faculty, and staff. Our sphere encompasses many areas that affect the student experience including Housing, Security, Financial Aid, and health care. If you are interested in participating, please e-mail Dean For Med Ed.