Kenneth A. Forde Diversity Alliance Presents 2020 Awards

The Kenneth A. Forde Diversity Alliance (KAFDA) has honored members of the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons community dedicated to supporting diversity and minority health in medical education and patient care. This year’s virtual reception on Oct. 22 was co-hosted by Anil K. Rustgi, MD, Interim Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, and the Offices of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Alumni Affairs, and Faculty Professional Development, Diversity and Inclusion at VP&S.

Hilda Hutcherson, MD, senior associate dean for diversity & multicultural affairs at VP&S, opened the event, recapping highlights of the alliance's six-year history. She inspired attendees by quoting reflections made by Ken Forde during the inaugural KAFDA reception: "I am extremely honored to have been chosen as the mascot for this initiative. I hope that this group and those to come will profit, as I have, from recognizing challenges, developing adaptability, seizing opportunity, appreciating the contributions of faith, family, and friends to our individual and collective success."

The awards announced at the event included:

  • 2020 Kenneth A. Forde Scholarship: Veronica Kane, VP&S medical student
  • 2020 KAFDA Student Diversity Award: Edith Antonio, VP&S medical student, and Mohamed Diop, MD’20, an otolaryngology resident at Stanford University
  • 2020 KAFDA Resident Diversity Award: Hasani Swindell, MD’16, postdoctoral residency fellow in the VP&S Department of Orthopedic Surgery
  • 2020 KAFDA Faculty Diversity Award: Alyson Fox, MD, associate professor of medicine at VP&S

KAFDA Honors Columbia Surgeon with 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award

Spencer Amory

Spencer Amory

In addition, a special Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Spencer E. Amory, MD, the José M. Ferrer Professor of Surgery at VP&S. The award honors Amory's tireless commitment to supporting minority health and diversity initiatives at VP&S, mentoring medical students, and providing outstanding clinical care. 

Amory is an award-winning leader recognized for his diagnostic acumen and empathic, individualized approach to patient care. He joined VP&S for his surgical residency after earning a medical degree at Johns Hopkins University. In his decades at Columbia, he has improved patient care with laparoscopic techniques resulting in some of the lowest open cholecystectomy rates in New York state. He is member of the VP&S Academy of Community and Public Service and a regular on New York’s Top Doctors and SuperDoctors lists.

Amory was also a mentee of the late Kenneth A. Forde, MD’59, the José M. Ferrer Professor Emeritus of Clinical Surgery, a Columbia University Trustee, and a NewYork-Presbyterian Trustee. Forde personally selected Amory for the award before his passing last year. In his remarks, Amory reflected on the impact of his close colleague’s lifelong work. 

“Kenneth Forde, through his advocacy here at VP&S and through SAGES, the national surgical organization that he co-founded, changed the face of surgery and surgery itself,” said Amory. “Along the way he changed many hearts and minds through all strata of society.” 

Forde, a colorectal surgeon and member of the VP&S faculty for 50 years, helped pioneer the use of endoscopy as a diagnostic and surgical tool. He co-founded the Society of Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons—SAGES—and served as president of SAGES and the New York Surgical Society. KAFDA launched in 2014 to honor his service to Columbia with the mission to recruit and retain a diverse community, provide networking events, foster and maintain a supportive environment, raise awareness about diversity, support pipeline programs, and provide career and leadership development through mentoring at VP&S.

During the virtual reception, Forde’s sister Lolita Chandler-Crumpley eloquently remembered his life and legacy. 

“He really left footprints at Columbia and I hope that medical students and those who are coming along who may not always be finding themselves in the majority, who find themselves sometimes having things that nip a little bit at who they are, to remember the model that Ken established as a role model for them,” said Chandler-Crumpley. “Be your very best. That’s the signature. Reach out and embrace others. Share yourself and your experiences with others.”