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Wasatch community gardens

Wasatch Community Gardens’ Green Phoenix Farm

Leadership in Inclusive Excellence Awards: Community Partner

To address health inequities and collaborate on community-based solutions, the University of Utah Center for Community Nutrition partnered with Green Phoenix Farm — Wasatch Community Gardens’ job training program for women experiencing homelessness. Green Phoenix Farm assists with access to land and education for growing and eating fresh produce, while building and nurturing community connections through gardening and healthy food.

“Wasatch Community Gardens’ Green Phoenix Farm provides thousands of underserved and low-income community members with fresh, healthy, organic local foods at no cost while providing a safe working environment to women experiencing homelessness. Through our partnership, they have also allowed University of Utah Health students, staff, and faculty the opportunities to learn and develop new skills, as well as provide more significant insights and solutions to the health inequities of our most marginalized community members who have the lowest life expectancy in the US.”

staff of the School of Medicine Office of Admission group together on a staircase

Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine Office of Admissions

Leadership in Inclusive Excellence Awards: Equity Transformation

The University of Utah’s Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine Office of Admissions is responsible for the recruitment and admission of all M.D., M.D.-Ph.D., and PROMIS2U applicants along with all RUUTE and Population Health Scholars — over 3,500 prospective medical school applicants. The office strives to inspire and transform the recruitment and admissions processes through a holistic culture that values teamwork, professionalism, compassion, and communication while anchoring the School of Medicine’s mission of recruiting diverse and innovative future providers who exemplify dedication, service, leadership, research, and academic excellence.

“The Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine Office of Admissions models equity transformation through newly created policies, practices, and programs in the application and screening process for medical school applicants. Their efforts intentionally move us closer to the goal of eliminating health disparities for all patients, particularly those who have been historically excluded and further marginalized.”

portrait of Paul Sigala

Paul Sigala, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor & Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Department of Biochemistry

Leadership in Inclusive Excellence Awards: Faculty

Paul Sigala, Ph.D. (he/him) is an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, where his lab studies the basic biology of malaria parasites. Paul served for four years (2016-2020) as co-chair of recruitment for Bioscience Ph.D. Programs, during which the program transformed the diversity of its student body, with ~25% or more of students coming from underrepresented backgrounds in science. He currently serves as the biochemistry department’s director of equity, diversity, and inclusion and has implemented numerous initiatives to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts and highlight outstanding postdoctoral scientists from diverse backgrounds. Paul also serves as faculty co-advisor for the University of Utah chapter of SACNAS, a national STEM organization that fosters the professional development and success of underrepresented scientists. In spring 2022, the chapter was recognized nationally with a “Chapter of the Year” distinction (given to 7 of 133 chapters) for its profound impact on the university community. 

“Paul Sigala, Ph.D., has provided outstanding inclusivity leadership in the research lab and on departmental and university-wide levels. As a Mexican American, he is keenly aware of the challenges underrepresented communities face to equitably access and succeed in scientific training. Paul helped lead the efforts by many faculty, staff, and students that have resulted in dramatic and sustained success in diversifying our Ph.D. student body. This success has transformed our research culture and community. “

portrait of Gita Suneja

Gita Suneja, M.D. M.S.H.P.

Associate Professor & Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Department of Radiation Oncology

Leadership in Inclusive Excellence Awards: Research

Gita Suneja, M.D., M.S.H.P., is a radiation oncologist with clinical expertise in the management of breast and gynecologic cancers, and a scientific laboratory focused on health equity research. Under her leadership as director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Department of Radiation Oncology has revamped the residency and faculty recruitment processes to be more holistic and has mentored many learners and faculty from minoritized backgrounds. Dr. Suneja provides exemplary service to the radiation oncology community and has been leading national efforts to increase diversity within the ranks of radiation oncology physicians and improve access to cancer clinical trials for excluded populations. She serves as the chair of the Research Committee for the Radiation Oncology Institute; chair of the Committee on Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at American Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology; and as an oral board examiner for resident trainees via the American Board of Radiology.

“Dr. Suneja has been a leader in promoting diversity and inclusion in hiring faculty, residents, and staff. She leads by example through hiring and advancement practices in her lab. Her leadership in recruitment and retention practices, as well as her dedication and prioritization to research revealing disparities in medical care, has led to the recent recruitment and hiring of researchers studying the impact of health disparities, such as gender disparity.”

portrait of Kimberly Killam

Kimberly Killam

Operational Project Manager II
Operational Project Management Office

Leadership in Inclusive Excellence Awards: Staff (Individual)

As an operational project manager, Kimberly Killam has positively impacted how we care for University of Utah Health patients. She has led multiple projects with a primary focus on increasing demographic data collection and developing comprehensive education including the Race & Ethnicity Capture and SOGI-Phase II. Both projects have a high impact on patient care and are foundational to identifying health disparities, creating inclusive and welcoming care, and improving health equity outcomes. Because of her inclusive project management style and collaboration with community organizations, University of Utah Health is able to include data options for New Americans, list Indigenous Peoples by their preferred pre-colonization names, and much more.

“Kimberly has fully embraced the bigger picture and become an advocate for those who may be underrepresented or underserved. Over time, we will be better able to identify health disparities and differences in health outcomes based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We will be able to work on health interventions that are culturally sensitive and responsive to the unique aspects of these communities and ultimately improve health outcomes across our state. None of that would be possible without Kimberly. Her commitment to ensuring the projects are successful and her passion for their importance has been amazing.”

staff of the Redwood Health Center grouped together outside of the clinic

Redwood Health Center

Leadership in Inclusive Excellence Awards: Staff (Group)

The Redwood Health Center is dedicated to patients of all backgrounds; the clinic serves as a safe haven for New Americans, unhoused individuals, the LGBTQIA+ community, persons with disabilities, and those who are uninsured or underinsured. Embedding numerous equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives into their primary and specialty care services, the Redwood Health Center staff contributes to an inclusive, accessible, and welcoming environment.

“Every staff member continues to show up each day, not sure of what will happen, but sure that they can make a positive impact in the lives of someone in their community. Many staff members and providers know what it’s like to be marginalized for how they look, dress, or talk, and they work tirelessly to ensure patients never feel that way in their medical home at Redwood Health Center.”

Diversity and Science Lecture

Diversity and Science Lecture Series University of Utah Chapter

Leadership in Inclusive Excellence Awards: Student

Founded in 2021, the University of Utah chapter of the Diversity and Science Lecture Series (DASL) provides a platform for scientists to share their research, life experiences, and support for equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM. Chapter Co-Founders William Tang, Rebekah Nicholson, and Cindy Barba utilized the DASL platform to bridge gaps between communities through a three-part workshop series on written communication, verbal communication, and science policy. The workshops have focused on collecting stories in STEM as a collection of personal biographies, which have been peer-reviewed and prepared for publication as a book in early 2023.

“William, Rebekah, and Cindy have been incredibly inspiring leaders who are determined to follow up equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives with programming and resources that form meaningful connections and improve access and inclusion in STEM to our research community. Their efforts so far have spurred impressive participation and enthusiasm, and DASL is sure to continue improving our oath to cultivate an equitable, diverse, and inclusive research community.”

portrait of Stuti Das

Stuti Das, M.D. M.Sc.

Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellow & Child Abuse Fellow
Department of Pediatrics

Leadership in Inclusive Excellence Awards: Trainee

Stuti Das, M.D. M.Sc. is a first-year pediatric emergency medicine and child abuse fellow in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah. Stuti’s energizing presence contributed to the formation of the pediatric department’s Anti-Racism Working Group, Championing Diversity Dinners, and Child Health Equity Executive Committee to foster belonging, justice, empathy, and inclusion in professional and clinical spaces. As a dual trainee, she hopes to improve diagnosis of child abuse in the emergency department and address biases that can especially affect families of color.

“From her sincere and unapologetic push to create change, Dr. Das has created a reverberation that built sustainable structures to address equity and inclusion. She made these decisions with much thought, knowing she was taking a risk by putting herself out there to make working in pediatrics a safe place for those historically and perpetually marginalized in medicine. And for that, the Department of Pediatrics will be forever grateful and indebted for her bravery. We would not be where we are without her.”

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