UMMS Recruits New Chief Diversity, Equity And Inclusion Officer
The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) announced Wednesday that it has recruited its first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.
Dr. Roderick King, a physician whose career spans more than three decades, will join UMMS this summer.
He is now the CEO of the Florida Institute for Health Innovation and Senior Associate Dean of Diversity Inclusion and Community Engagement at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
King told WYPR that it’s a little early to outline specific goals for his new role.
“The first step would be to kind of understand what's already going on within the health system,” King said. “Next is then trying to get really a good working operational definition of what we mean by diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Another one of his priorities will be reconnecting with Baltimore. An alum of Johns Hopkins University, King left the city in 1987.
He says while the city has changed a lot, it still grapples with a long history of medical institutions abusing communities of color. That history, he says, can be a catalyst for change.
“For me, this is an exciting time to leverage some of the historical contexts in Baltimore and the Maryland area to really tackle some of these issues,” King said.
King said diversity, equity and inclusion is not just his official work, but also his lifelong passion.
His father, a graduate of Howard University and a family practice physician, and his mother, both dedicated their lives to fighting health inequities.
They set up their practices in Brooklyn, NY, where King said he witnessed communities of color struggling with a rise in health issues and youth violence.
“I grew up with that environment,” King said. “And I'm looking forward to building on that legacy, because it's part of who I am, and really what I've tried to do with my career over the past 30 to 40 years.”
King said this past year may mark a turning point in the way medical institutions address racism and bias within their own institutions.
For example, he said the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately harmed Black Americans, and has made more Americans aware of the country’s deep racial inequities.
“That's just another reminder. In addition to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and so many other African Americans,” King said. “And now we're seeing some of the hurtful, anti-Asian attacks that are happening across the country.”
King believes the country is ready for change.
“And I think the health systems are well poised to really be a major leader in this area, and to really catalyze this change that needs to happen within our communities,” he said.