In honor of Black History Month, influential leaders celebrate diversity, keys to their success

February 28, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

Today concludes Black History Month, which has served as a valuable opportunity to reflect on the importance of diversity — both within the organization and across the U.S.

To celebrate the month, Headlines caught up with some impactful leaders at Michigan Medicine to discuss diversity in medicine and to find out what — and who — has driven them to succeed in their careers.

Here’s what they had to say:

JoAnn Grantham

JoAnn Grantham, recognition program manager, Human Resources

Headlines: What have you found to be the key to success as you’ve progressed through your career?

JG: There are a number of keys to my success. First, I do my best to live my life in a way that I can be proud of. On top of that, I have received support from so many individuals who have poured their hearts and souls into me and my career throughout the years.

Finally, values such as integrity, compassion, respect and inclusiveness are at my core and what I strive to emulate every day above everything else. If I successfully carry out these values, I know that success will follow.

John Carethers, M.D.

John Carethers, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine

Headlines: Why is diversity so important in health care?

JC: Diversity comes in many forms, including gender, race and religion. But it also refers to educational background and training, among other factors.

In health care, we work as teams, and diversity within teams will improve patient care. For instance, every member of a team may be trained differently, with each individual offering his or her expertise for critical and non-critical situations that can save patient lives.  Therefore, teams that are diverse make better and more informed decisions, and are often higher functioning and more successful than non-diverse teams.

As we are an educational institution, role models and mentors for our developing learners are highly important, and can provide guidance and opportunity for our youth to see what is possible for them. Having diverse mentors opens up these opportunities.

Maria Armstrong-Anderson

Maria Armstrong-Anderson, R.N., B.S., allergy and asthma immunology, Northville Health Center

Headlines: Who inspired you to enter a career in health care?

MAA: I was inspired to become a nurse as I watched my grandmother, Abbie Hare, who served as a nurse. She impressed me with the care that she gave to her patients, neighbors in her neighborhood, family and friends. It left a huge imprint on me and influenced me deeply over the years.

Once I began my career, I realized that I am inspired by my daily work and those I serve. I have spent much of my time caring for cancer patients — some survive and go on to live fulfilling lives, others don’t. But as hard as it is, I can’t imagine doing anything else. If I can help bring about one good outcome out of many, I’m grateful because I know that I helped someone feel better and made a difference in their lives.

Ben Borden

Ben Borden, administrative manager, Environmental Services

Headlines: How have you found success both at Michigan Medicine and throughout your career?

BB: I have found success through my spirit to serve, coupled with staying calm and being genuine, regardless of the role I’m in.

I started my career on the hospitality side of the business (working with Marriott), and I was always taught that every person I come into contact with is my customer. As I translate that into my daily business at Michigan Medicine, it’s a matter of understanding what the needs and opportunities are of patients, families and colleagues by actively listening. When you take away the “noise” you can really get to the heart of any issue and work toward a resolution. Even if you’re not always perfect, you’ve left the people you serve with a noticeable and lasting impression.

Whitney Williams

Whitney Williams, senior project manager, Office of Faculty Development

Headlines: What advice do you have for the next generation of minority leaders?

WW: When you become a member of Michigan Medicine, you become a leader. Own that opportunity and strive to flourish in it — no matter how challenging that may seem.

A few words of advice that I would share is to find your village, including people inside and outside of your department, and family and friends who see and value the best in you. These should be people who uplift you, help you grow and stretch you beyond your own expectations. The progression of my own career was due to being around thoughtful, honest and persistent mentors who created safe spaces for me to be vulnerable and grow. Be sure to also take time to learn more about yourself, your strengths, your communication style and what makes you feel the most energized.

Lastly, take the time to actively seek out feedback from others. It is great to know more about yourself from multiple perspectives, and when people share feedback, use it to your advantage. If nothing else, remember this: Despite how you may feel at times, you belong here. Take care of yourself and go out and achieve the impossible.