Be the Change
HMS honors faculty, staff for diversity efforts, responds to racial injustice
HMS honors faculty, staff for diversity efforts, responds to racial injustice
As members of the Harvard Medical School community took time out during the week of June 9 to acknowledge racial injustices in America—and to reflect on how best to confront institutional racism—HMS recognized four faculty members and one staffer for their sustained commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion at the School and its affiliated hospitals at the annual HMS 2020 Diversity Awards ceremony.
HMS Dean George Q. Daley commended this year’s recipients, Hermioni Lokko Amonoo, Denise Brown, S. Jean Emans, Corey Harwell and Allison Bryant Mantha, who he said, through their leadership and initiative, have made strides in creating a more inclusive HMS community where all members can feel more valued and supported in their aspirations.
Joan Y. Reede, Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership at HMS and chair of the HMS Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, encouraged others in the community to follow the lead of this year's honorees with a nod to Black novelist, poet and activist James Baldwin.
“The time is now for us to come together, to learn from each other, to grow with one another, to be better than we have been, to be better together, to help raise our entire community,” Reede said. “It’s what we as individuals and as a community do. … Join us. The time is now.”
Diversity Lifetime Achievement Award
S. Jean Emans, the Mary Ellen Avery Professor of Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, received the Diversity Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at Boston Children’s and HMS for more than 50 years. She was one of 12 women in the HMS Class of 1970 to sign a student petition urging then Dean Robert Higgins Ebert to increase enrollment of black students at the School. Emans has been instrumental in recruiting diverse faculty and facilitating ground-breaking research within her division on LGBTQ issues, including gender identity and expression, and on racial and ethnic health disparities in HIV, asthma and other chronic illnesses. In addition, she inspired the creation of the Office of Faculty Development and the Office of Health Equity and Inclusion at Boston Children’s.
Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award
The Harold Amos Faculty 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.
The award was established to recognize HMS faculty who have made significant contributions toward making the School a more diverse and inclusive community. This year’s recipients include the following faculty members:
Hermioni Lokko Amonoo, HMS assistant professor of psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, serves as the inaugural chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s and initiated the Diversity Dilemma Dialogues, which provide a safe forum for faculty to navigate the diversity issues they encounter in their clinical services or work environments. Additionally, Amonoo modified the screening process for residency applicants to ensure that at least 25 percent of all interviewed applicants are from underrepresented populations.
Allison Bryant Mantha, HMS associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and
reproductive biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, was recognized for creating an equity dashboard of clinical care, which has had a significant impact on patient care and the recruitment and development of faculty and staff.
Corey Harwell, assistant professor of neurobiology in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS, received the award for establishing a model of inclusion, mentorship and diverse hiring practices in his lab.
Sharon P. Clayborne Staff Diversity Award
The Sharon P. Clayborne Staff Diversity Award was established to recognize staff who have gone above and beyond to enrich the HMS and HSDM community and foster an inclusive environment. It was named for Clayborne, who began her HMS career in 1981 as a staff assistant in the financial aid office and was recognized repeatedly over the years for her dedication to students and their education.
This year’s recipient was Denise Brown, a staff assistant for the Program in Medical Education–Student Affairs at HMS. She was recognized for fostering a sense of equity and fairness in the Longwood Medical Area over the last 18 years and creating a safe space for faculty and students to discuss and come to understand cultural and social differences at HMS.
The time is now for us to come together, to learn from each other, to grow with one another, to be better than we have been, to be better together, to help raise our entire community. It’s what we as individuals and as a community do … Join us. The time is now.
A Call to Action
“Excellence goes hand-in-hand with diversity. It’s a prerequisite for our ability to be leaders and to train leaders,” said Daley at the June 9 virtual event.
“The events of the past two weeks have made it abundantly clear that there’s no greater time to reassert our efforts to promote diversity, inclusion and belonging in our community. Harvard Medical School is committed to this work,” he said.
Daley was referring to the widespread U.S. and international protests that followed the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His death set off a wave of demonstrations against racial injustice across the world and sparked discussions and action across college campuses, including Harvard and HMS. Daley invited the HMS community in a letter to pause in solidarity with the nationwide #ShutDownSTEM initiative on Wednesday, June 10.
In his letter to the HMS and HSDM community, Daley included a link to a number of anti-racism resources to help individuals take on this important work, and he asked all members of the community to pause at noon that day to spend 8 minutes and 46 seconds in quiet reflection.
“While we will be apart, there will be power and community in our collective silence,” he wrote.
“While one day will not reverse the structural racism embedded in our country, it gives us the opportunity to build on our Better Together plan and to identify specific steps we can each take to confront racism,” Daley wrote.
The task force’s four goals included analyzing the landscape of HMS, its affiliates and Harvard University; developing an HMS diversity and inclusion vision, statement and policy that foster excellence in teaching, research and service; identifying measures of accountability; and prioritizing needs for deeper investigation, goal-setting and action.
In the report, the task force made recommendations for how HMS can become a hub for diversity and inclusion in both policy and practice, at all levels of the institution.
Charting a new course for community
At the HMS Diversity Awards event, keynote speaker John Silvanus Wilson, senior adviser and strategist to the president at Harvard University who
leads Harvard’s Office for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, outlined the University’s strategic shift toward sustainable inclusive excellence.
He said this agenda would ensure that, “no matter what your biography, no matter what your background is, you can thrive at Harvard. You can do your best work while becoming your best self.”
“Harvard has been excellent for 400 years,” said Wilson, who is overseeing the implementation of recommendations from the University’s Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging.
“Now we’re after true excellence. It’s something greater. We call it sustainable inclusive excellence. … We’re going to get there with all of you.”