Letter from Huntsman Cancer Institute Leadership

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Huntsman Cancer Institute is recognized as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) is committed to a culture defined by justice. We are familiar with tackling major and complex challenges, like cancer. To that end, we know we will fall short of our vision to deliver a cancer-free frontier if we fail to tackle oppression in all its forms. We are dedicated to achieving equity, diversity, and inclusion at HCI. We will not tolerate overt or subtle racial discrimination, queerphobia, ableism, injustice, or bias within our community.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion are integral to our pledge to put the patient and community first as we strive to reduce cancer burden in our state and region. We commit to creating consistent, ongoing meaningful changes that will result in a more just, equitable, and inclusive environment.

HCI’s new and ongoing initiatives complement our mission, vision, and values. We realize there is no quick fix to address and rectify the systemic racism and injustice that has existed in our country for generations. These initiatives act as only a starting point on our quest to achieve transformational change within our society. We’ve come so far but look forward to pushing even further on the journey to justice. We will do this work in a way that holds our institution and ourselves accountable for making real and sustainable change.

We will make our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion a key pillar of our HCI Strategic Plan now and going forward.

We rise to this challenge together, with vigor and sustained commitment.

Sincerely,
HCI Leadership

  • Mary Beckerle, PhD
    CEO, HCI
    Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Endowed Chair
  • Bradley R. Cairns, PhD
    Chief Academic Officer
    Chair, Department of Oncological Sciences
  • Sachin Apte, MD, MS, MBA
    Chief Clinical Officer
    Physician-in-Chief, HCI
  • Don Milligan, MBA
    Executive Director, HCI
  • Kolawole S. Okuyemi, MD, MPH
    HCI Executive Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
    Chair, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
  • Cornelia Ulrich, MS, PhD
    Chief Scientific Officer
    Executive Director, HCI Comprehensive Cancer Center
    Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Presidential Professor in Cancer Research
  • Scott Pingree, MBA, MPA
    HCI Chief Strategy Officer
  • Kevin Cheney, MBA, CPA
    Executive Director, Finance and Administration

What is equity, diversity, and inclusion?

Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are core tenets that guide our efforts to combat oppression at HCI. The ultimate goal of this work is justice. We commit to working towards an HCI community where every member of the community is welcomed as their unique self, feels invested, personally valued, and safe; shows respect for their co-workers; and acknowledges other members’ contributions as important.

Equity—recognize and redistribute power by creating custom resources that identify, address, and resolve disparities according to the needs, backgrounds, identities, and circumstances of each individual person to create and foster an anti-oppression environment

Diversity—a workplace or community made up of various talents, skills, and abilities of each individual and group based on different unique needs, backgrounds, identities, circumstances, and additional characteristics

Inclusion—actively welcome people of all needs, backgrounds, identities, and circumstances as well as empowering, celebrating, supporting, and valuing the differences each individual and group brings

Justice—realign and continually repair the foundation of an inequitable system to allow the organic consistent and continuous redistribution of power and privilege to foster an anti-oppression environment

Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

At HCI, we are deeply committed to being an anti-racist cancer center. The values of equity, diversity, and inclusion are integral to our pledge to put the patient and community first as we strive to reduce the cancer burden in our state and region.

We denounce racism of all forms and are dedicated to tackling discrimination against our patient populations and our employees. We commit to creating meaningful changes that will result in a more just, equitable, and inclusive environment.

In July 2020, we announced the following commitments and actions:

  • Commit $1 million to establish an HCI Endowed Chair to expand faculty and demonstrate HCI’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • A Commission on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to make recommendations on issues related to equality and justice.
  • Funding of $250,000 to support recommendations of the Commission.
  • Expansion of HCI’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion with appropriate support to serve ongoing needs across all mission areas.
  • Incorporation of equity, diversity, and inclusion as key pillars of HCI’s 2025 Strategic Plan.
  • Frequent visible, public statements of our commitment to actively counter racism and advance a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

These new initiatives complement HCI’s existing efforts. Collectively, they represent a starting point in our quest to achieve transformational change toward a diverse, equitable, and inclusive HCI community, broader University, state, and society.

Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Team

Dr. Kolawole Okuyemi

 Executive Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Natasha Ovuoba

Associate Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Anna Marsden

Program Manager, PathMaker Program

Andrew Langi

Project Administrator, Clinical Trials

Emily Kay

Program Manager, GMaP

Katty Youd

Program Manager, COE and Training

Tiffany Hoang

Executive Assistant

University of Utah Main Campus EDI Partners

Mary Ann Villarreal, VP for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

University of Utah Health EDI Partners

Jose Rodriguez, AVP for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

University of Utah Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine EDI Partners

Paloma Cariello

Contact us at edi@hci.utah.edu.

Purpose, Strategic Priorities, and Framework

Purpose

HCI’s Office of EDI is an intersectional, anti-racist and anti-oppression team committed to critically examining, disrupting, and eliminating inequities in our policies, practices, and systems. We identify gaps and implement solutions for people from historically marginalized, underrepresented, and disadvantaged populations to access effective scientific discovery, cancer education and care, and professional opportunities. In partnership with leaders and teams around the organization, EDI builds meaningful tools designed to improve the health of the community and ultimately deliver a cancer-free frontier at every social level required for lasting change.

Watch a Recent Town Hall above—CEO Mary Beckerle, EDI executive director Kola Okuyemi, and EDI associate director Natasha Ovuoba share their five-year strategic plan and priorities as well as provide progress updates on current EDI commitments and recommendations.

Strategic Priorities

Safety and Refuge

Many members of the diverse HCI community, especially members who identify as people of color, have experienced discrimination and mistreatment. Previously, they have not had appropriate avenues for reporting discriminatory incidents nor an advocate in HCI leadership who could implement changes to protect them from further mistreatment and/or retribution. The purpose of the Safety and Refuge priority is the Office of EDI to build tools that will empower members of the HCI community to securely report discriminatory incidents and receive solutions that will lead to a safe, transparent, accountable, and welcoming workplace culture.

Business Operations and Best Practices

HCI believes that a diverse and inclusive climate is vital to the intellectual rigor, commitment to excellence, and culture of belonging at HCI and the University of Utah. We also affirm that meaningful education is needed for our entire community toward understanding that diversity and inclusion bring value to our center. The Office of EDI will identify and implement best practices in hiring, onboarding, education, retention, mentoring, and professional and leadership development at HCI. The Office of EDI will continue to align equity, diversity and inclusion efforts with the mission and vision of the organization.

Community Engagement and Policy Impact

Though our work centers around cancer research and care, so many factors outside of HCI’s walls impact the work we do every day. Disparities exist from who gets hired to who survives cancer diagnoses. People from marginalized, underrepresented, and disadvantaged populations continue to be negatively impacted by centuries of injustice. We have the opportunity to learn from our past, better construct the present, and be a beacon of hope for a more progressive future. To achieve that goal, we will partner with leaders across the University of Utah and the Mountain West to edit current and draft new policies that will ensure the continued recognition, retention, development, and success of historically marginalized staff, students, and faculty. We will partner with policy makers to develop plans to improve the wellbeing of patients and community members including meaningfully addressing the social determinants of health.

Strategic Framework

framework.jpgA visual representation of Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion strategic priorities. The goal at the interpersonal level is Safety and Refuge. The goal at the interpersonal level is Business Operations and Best Practices. The goal at the systemic level is Community Engagement and Policy Impact. The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion will examine and identify opportunities at each social level, create and implement solutions for improvement, and continually evaluate their work to progress towards lasting culture change.

Commission on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

HCI has established a Commission on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to actively counter racism and focus on major EDI issues at our institute. Commission members represent the breadth of perspectives across the HCI community. The Commission is charged with making recommendations related to racial equity and justice to the Office of the CEO and HCI’s executive leadership team. To help support these recommendations, HCI has established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fund, seeded initially with $250,000.

Our current commitments and the work of the Commission are just the beginning steps. We realize there is no quick fix to address and rectify the systemic racism and injustice that has existed in our country for generations. Yet we are committed to do this work in a way that holds our institution and ourselves accountable for making real and sustainable change.

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Co-Chairs

Bradley R. Cairns, PhD
HCI Chief Academic Officer and Chair, Department of Oncological Sciences

Kolawole S. Okuyemi, MD, MPH
HCI Executive Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Chair, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine

Members

Mary-Jean (Gigi) Austria, MS, RN, OCN
Nurse Manager, HCI Clinical Staff Education

Samuel Cheshier, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery

Scott Clark
Multidisciplinary Team Outpatient Oncology/Urology Patient Coordinator, HCI

Garrett Harding
Associate Director, HCI Community Outreach

Emma E. Houston, MBA
Member, HCI Community Advisory Board

Krystle Osby
HCI Graduate Student, Department of Oncological Sciences

Katherine (K-T) Varley, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Oncological Sciences

Ex-Officio Members

David Wetter, PhD
Director, Center for Health Outcomes and Population Equity
Professor, Department of Population Health Sciences

José E. Rodríguez, MD, FAAFP
Associate Vice President, Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, University of Utah Health
Professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine

Staff

Andrew K. Langi
Program Manager, HCI Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Anna Marsden, MBA
Programs Manager, PathMaker Programs, Office of Cancer Training and Career Enhancement and Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Former Members

April Carlson, LCSW
Swapna Gudipaty, PhD
Ellen T. Wilson, PhD