By: Aisha DeBerry, MBA, PHR, SHRM-CP, CPRP
As I watched Karine Jean-Pierre address the podium for the first time as the newly appointed White House Press Secretary, I couldn’t help but draw similar parallels between our experiences. I was acutely aware that she represented a few firsts appointed to the role – the first Black woman, born to immigrants, and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. As I watched her, she acknowledged at that moment that she was standing on the shoulders of the generations of barrier-breaking people who came before her. It was inspiring.
When I began my journey with the AAPPR Board, I looked around the room at my first board meeting. I quickly learned that I was the first black woman to be appointed to the Board. At that moment, I knew it was my duty to challenge the board to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion not only in our leadership but also in our membership, because representation matters! And through the aligned commitment of the organization, I am proud to say that we now have the most diverse board that we have ever had, representing our membership in experiences and perspectives.
When the summer of 2020 hit, we were faced with the onset of a deadly pandemic which dramatically exposed the inequities of healthcare, frontline workers, and other essential workers risking their own safety to help others. We also witnessed the unfortunate deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others. Our communities were hurting, and knowing that our members are part of these communities, we couldn’t be silent.
Together we crafted our first statement as a Board on our commitment to diversity, equity & inclusion, but we didn’t stop there. Through difficult conversations and leaning into the uncomfortable, our commitment to normalizing the conversation and moving forward with action and education has continued. As our Board President, Emerson Moses, mentioned in the last Board Corner, our DEI micro-credential was launched at the conference in April. And the DEI Advisory Committee and the Board are continuing to push forward with initiatives in this space.
Now I present myself as the first black woman appointed as the Board’s President-Elect. Being the first comes with a sense of pride and a great responsibility that I don’t take lightly. It also comes with an understanding that we need all of YOU to help us do this work – to truly change inequity in health care across the board. Join me, our President Emerson Moses, our CEO Carey Goryl, and the AAPPR Board as we embrace diversity, become barrier-breaking individuals, and deepen our impact in healthcare.