Agents of Change

2019 Howard, Dorsey, Still lecture, awards recognize diversity efforts of HMS faculty, staff

Recipients of the 2019 Diversity Awards with Joan Reede and Otis Brawley

Left to right: Silvia Halperin, Soledad Vera, Joan Reede, Monica Mendiola, Otis W. Brawley, David Van Vactor Jr., Mayra Lorenzo, Karina Gonzalez Herrera and Joan Ilacqua. Image: DICP

Six Harvard Medical School faculty members and two HMS staffers were honored at the 2019 Howard, Dorsey, Still lecture and diversity awards ceremony for their dedication to advancing diversity and inclusion at the School.

Otis Brawley delivers keynote at the 2019 Howard, Dorsey, Still Lecture
Otis Brawley delivers keynote at the 2019 Howard, Dorsey, Still Lecture

Keynote speaker at the annual event was Otis Brawley, the Bloomberg distinguished professor of oncology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University. An authority on cancer screening and prevention, Brawley has been recognized for his many efforts in service to students, research and diverse patient populations.

Brawley’s talk, "Cancer Control in the 21st Century," touched upon his work which has focused on closing racial, economic and social inequalities in the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer.

The event, noted HMS Dean George Q. Daley, acknowledges the “hard work of today’s award recipients and countless others throughout our community … who have brought meaningful change to the HMS community … and have shown us how diversity enriches all our lives.”

“This is a remarkable celebration,” said Daley at the April 23 event in Gordon Hall.

Of the School’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, Daley said, “We have made significant strides—and we will continue to do even better—but we can’t be complacent. We can never be satisfied with where we are. We have to keep striving to do better.”

2019 Diversity Awards

An advisory committee, composed of representatives across HMS and HSDM, reviewed all nominations for this year’s Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award and Sharon P. Clayborne Staff Diversity Award. Honorees accepted their awards from Joan Reede, dean for diversity and community partnership at HMS.

The Harold Amos Diversity Award was named for Harold Amos, the Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Emeritus, who was the first African American to earn a doctoral degree from the Division of Medical Sciences at HMS in 1952.

It was established to recognize HMS faculty who have made significant contributions toward making HMS a more diverse and inclusive community.

Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award recipients

Stephen Blacklow, the Gustavus Adolphus Pfeiffer professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS

Recognized for:

  • Exceptional efforts to create an inclusive environment as head of the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology.
  • Dedication to making others understand the importance of diversity.
  • Commitment to encouraging trainees who are women or in groups underrepresented in medicine in his department to pursue their dreams.

Mayra Lorenzo, HMS instructor in dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital

Recognized for:

  • Being dedicated to diversifying the Department of Dermatology at HMS.
  • Addressing issues and challenges at the resident, fellow and faculty levels.
  • Working collaboratively with dermatology programs across six Harvard-affiliated institutions to expand the programs’ work on diversity and inclusion.

Monica Mendiola, HMS instructor in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Recognized for:

  • Increasing the Beth Israel Deaconess Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program matching rate for residents in groups underrepresented in medicine from 17 to 67 percent under her leadership.
  • Leading four scholarly projects focused on diversity in medical education and two projects focused on the promotion of health care equality among minorities.
  • Being instrumental in creating the department's diversity statement and becoming a founding member of the department's newly formed Diversity, Inclusion and Advocacy Committee.

David Van Vactor, professor of cell biology in the Blavatnik Institute and director of the Graduate Education and Global Programs Curriculum Fellows Program at HMS

Recognized for:

  • Consistently creating an inclusive environment for students who are women and from groups underrepresented in medicine.
  • Introducing several new approaches to effectively enhance recruitment and retention rates for students underrepresented in medicine in the Biomedical and Biological Sciences umbrella program, the largest graduate program at HMS.
  • Serving on many HMS committees whose missions are to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity and serving as an excellent ambassador who has represented HMS at meetings and conferences across the nation and attracted talented students and job candidates from diverse backgrounds.

Silvia Halperin, HMS assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, and Soledad Vera, HMS instructor in psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, on behalf of the Latino Mental Health Program, Cambridge Health Alliance

Recognized for:

  • Promoting diversity since its formation in 1983 within HMS, the broader Cambridge area and the United States.
  • Working to make access to care more equitable and inclusive to a disadvantaged patient population of varied racial backgrounds, ages and levels of education that present with a range of psychiatric, psychotic and personality disorders.
  • Having a commitment to training the next generation of bilingual and bicultural service providers.

Sharon P. Clayborne Staff Diversity Award recipients

Sharon P. Clayborne began her career at HMS in 1981 as a staff assistant in the financial aid office. The diversity award in her name was established to recognize HMS staff who have gone above and beyond to enrich the HMS community and foster an inclusive environment.

Karina Gonzalez Herrera, assistant director of diversity and minority affairs in the Division of Medical Sciences at HMS

Recognized for:

  • Being committed to supporting students in groups underrepresented in medicine since the time she was a student at HMS.
  • Creating an inclusive environment in her current role.
  • Encouraging and advising students, faculty, staff and fellows who are interested in doing more to support diversity, equity and inclusion at HMS.

Joan Ilacqua, archivist for diversity at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine Center for the History of Medicine

Recognized for:

  • Her longstanding personal and professional commitment to diversity and inclusion.

  • Her thoughtful and diligent work to diversify the historical record of HMS and HSDM.
  • Her efforts toward building a new committee to advise the Archives for Diversity and Inclusion program, which will have a lasting impact on our community.

Howard, Dorsey, Still Lecture

The lecture was named for the first three African Americans to graduate from HMS: Edwin C. J. T. Howard and Thomas Graham Dorsey, both from the Class of 1869, and James Still, who graduated with honors in 1871.

Through their perseverance, Howard, Dorsey and Still paved the way for other physicians of color in America.

Reede, said Brawley’s lecture, “was meant not only to honor these three individuals but also to recognize others who have made significant contributions to advancing the nation’s health.”

More on this topic:

Celebrating 50 Years of Diversity and Inclusion

Documenting Diversity

Archives for Diversity and Inclusion