Inaugural DEIB Summit Celebrates Diversity and Belonging at CUIMC

CUIMC held its inaugural Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Summit on Oct. 13 to celebrate what has been achieved to ensure that belonging, in addition to diversity, equity, and inclusion, are part of CUIMC's culture. Faculty and staff attended presentations, panel discussions, performances, and a networking reception as part of the day-long summit—EnERGize: Valuable, Visible, Voices—which also addressed the challenges that remain.

The day’s programming was planned by leaders of CUIMC’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which were established in 2019 to support and engage faculty and staff through shared interests and identities.

woman holding a microphone and speaking in front of a group

The CUIMC Women ERG hosted a discussion about developing the right mindset for peak performance with Ruth Gotian, EdD, chief learning officer and assistant professor of education in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine. Photo: SOHA Pictures.

Each program during the summit addressed, in different ways, how traditionally marginalized individuals, at different points in their lives, can find their voices. And how with support those individuals can learn to advocate for themselves and for people like them.

four people sitting on chairs in front of an audience

Four CUIMC staff discussed their personal experiences with discrimination in professional settings during the summit's "Bold Conversations" panel. From left: Mayra Marte-Miraz, senior director of human resources, faculty affairs, and operations, Department of Medicine; Akil Johnson, senior director of operations, School of Nursing; Jacky Chen, project manager, quality & patient safety, ColumbiaDoctors; and Rudi Odeh-Ramadan, vice dean for finance and administration, VP&S. Photo: SOHA Pictures.

The LGBTQ+ ERG created a panel of “Moth Storytellers,” during which CUIMC staff shared their experiences of coming out and how that metamorphosis transformed their personal and professional lives. The Disability ERG sponsored a performance by Gealynn Lea Tressler, violinist, songwriter, and disability rights advocate.

The day ended with a special edition of “Bold Conversations for Healing & Reshaping Our Medical Center Community,” a series of panel discussions created in 2021 by CopeColumbia in collaboration with CUIMC's Human Resources Department and the Office of Faculty Professional Development, Diversity, and Inclusion to address stresses and barriers related to bias.

During the panel’s conversation, moderated by Patrice Malone, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, several staff members shared their experiences of discrimination in professional settings. “Our panelists made a brave decision to make themselves vulnerable, so that we could all learn and grow,” said Malone.