Columbia Pediatrics Strives for Inclusion, Representation, and Equality

Members of the Columbia Pediatrics DEI Committee pose for photo.

Diversity and Inclusion

Banner graphic for the Department of Pediatrics Annual Report for 2023

For almost a decade, the Department of Pediatrics has worked to push the boundaries of inclusion, representation, and equality among our faculty, staff, and training programs and to reflect the diverse populations we diagnose, study, treat, and heal.

Departmental leadership, including Marina Catallozzi, MD, MSCE, Vice Chair for Education, Linda Aponte-Patel, MD, Associate Vice Chair, Education, Diversity & Inclusion, and Hetty Cunningham, MD, Associate Vice Chair, Education & Learning Environment, have together embarked on several initiatives to broaden the department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work, including:

  • Continued departmental listening tours to understand divisional needs in the realms of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the learning environment, and well-being
  • Professional development trainings, in partnership with departmental and divisional leaders, focusing on topics such as anti-racism, implicit bias, positionality, and intersectionality
  • Maintaining, PedsBeSafe, a bias and learning environment online feedback portal and response system for house staff, developed in partnership with residency and Pediatric Diversity and Inclusion Council (PDIC) leadership
  • A departmental inclusive language guide to enhance health equity through language, developed in collaboration with pediatrics faculty
  • Health equity faculty meeting bimonthly talks (topics have included clinical skin-of-color tools, microaggression response skills, and inclusive teaching strategies)
  • Membership on divisional search committee and bias reflection sessions for CUIMC and department committees
  • Integration of partnership and humility slide for departmental speakers
  • Ongoing partnership with the department’s chief diversity officer, Shydeka Richards
  • Membership in the CUIMC Diversity Officers Group
  • Participation in house staff recruitment, including PDIC Fellow Section Open House for Prospective Applicants, NYP Diversity Open House, and Pediatrics Residency Open House for URiM Applicants

In 2023:

  • We hosted our second Virtual Pediatrics Elective for Underrepresented in Medicine (UIM) Students program. We successfully matched our first student from 2022 in the 2023 residency match.
  • We welcomed 27 new interns:
    • 24 Categorical
    • 2 Peds neuro
    • 1 Physician Scientist Development Training Program
    • 7 Who identify as underrepresented in medicine
    • 3 MD/PhDs
    • 21 Unique medical schools represented

Diversity in Administration

Shydeka Richards, manager of human resources and faculty affairs since 2016 and inaugural chief diversity officer since 2021, has worked to:

  • Reinforce and strengthen the work of the Pediatric Diversity and Inclusion Council (PDIC)
  • Strengthen focus on diversity in all major leadership searches
  • Broaden our focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives across the entire department, including among staff members
DEI Diversity Day discussion

Pediatric Diversity and Inclusion Council 

The Pediatric Diversity and Inclusion Council (PDIC), founded in 2013 to provide a supportive environment for underrepresented-in-medicine residents, has undergone tremendous growth since its beginnings, broadening the department’s focus to initiatives such as recruiting a diverse house staff and providing structured diversity and inclusion programming as core elements of our residency experience.

The PDIC is open to all health care team members in the department. Activities include annual welcoming social events for members, bimonthly meetings with residents and fellow members, quarterly meetings with faculty members.

In 2023:

  • Dr. Senayit Demie, PDIC Fellow Liaison, received the Health Service Science Oberfield Prize at the 25th annual Pediatric Fellows Research Symposium, for “Impact of Minority Race/Ethnicity, Language, and Public Payor Status on Pediatric Adverse Events.” Mentors: Drs. Jennifer Lee and Snezana Nena Osorio 
  • PDIC Members participated in Juneteenth March 5K Run/Walk/Roll. Proceeds went to the Harlem Center building fund.
  • Dr. Hetty Cunningham was featured on the Faculty and Leadership Panel at the Inaugural NYC Anti-Racism in Medical Education Symposium at Hostos Community College.
  • Dr. David L. Bell was named Associate Dean for Student Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in the newly renamed Office of Student Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Dr. Evelyn Berger-Jenkins presented “A Bronx Tale: Positive Childhood Events and Child Mental Health" for the department's Hispanic Heritage Month grand rounds
  • Dr. Amelia Warshaw, PDIC resident co-secretary, presented her departmental Chief of Service, “Trauma Informed Care: What Pediatricians Need to Know”
  • Dr. Elorm Avakame, PDIC fellow liaison, was accepted to the Harvard Macy Program for Educators. He also received the NYP MSCH Columbia University PCCM Scholarship, which supports meritorious research, education, or professional development activities of fellows in pediatric critical care medicine
  • Drs. Amanda Esteves and Patrice Pryce were named PDIC faculty co-leaders. Both served as PDIC fellow liaisons during their fellowship training at CUIMC.
  • Dr. Nabanita Hossain, PDIC resident co-president, presented her departmental Chief of Service, “Nothing About Us Without Us: Integrating Community Partnerships to Improve Service, Training and Research”
  • Dr. Samrie Beshah, PDIC resident co vice-president, presented her departmental Chief of Service “Race-Conscious Admission for Medical School”
  • PDIC fellows and resident, Drs. Tom Kuriakose, Elorm Avakame, and Amanda Simard, advised by Dr. Katie Nash, co-led Health Equity Rounds (HER), "Mind the Gap: Addressing barriers and lapses within newborn Medicaid coverage," a case-based conference series examining how bias and racism impact patient care and outcomes

Growing Our Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

The PDIC’s long-term objective is to expand our efforts to a national level and for our program to be recognized as a hub for diversity in training, research, and patient care. To that end we presented our work at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in 2018.

Our work and accomplishments underscore the department’s considerable commitment to training pediatricians who provide patient-centered and culturally competent care to our diverse patient population. Among our future goals: fostering our relationship with local community programs, capitalizing on the expertise and guidance of our vice chair for community health, Dodi Meyer, MD, strengthening our presence within our department as well as our institution, and creating opportunities for residents to participate in diversity and inclusionrelated research initiatives.

Diversity Day Symposium

Renee D. Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD

Our annual Celebration of Diversity Symposium, launched in 2017, is a daylong event featuring a keynote speaker, presentations that highlight community health programs, peer-to-peer workshops led by pediatric trainees, and a town hall with invited guests. In 2023, we welcomed Renee D. Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD, associate professor of pediatrics & director, Vital Village Network at Boston Medical Center/ Boston University. Her keynote presentation focused on “Community Building for Child Empowerment.”