McGovern names vice chairs for Diversity and Inclusion


By Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications

The Inaugural vice chairs for Diversity and Inclusion

McGovern Medical School has named eight faculty as the inaugural vice chairs for Diversity and Inclusion, an initiative which began under former dean Barbara J. Stoll, MD.

“Having vice chairs for Diversity and Inclusion in some of our larger departments is another important milestone for McGovern Medical School,” said LaTanya Love, MD, executive vice president of Student Affairs and Diversity and dean of Education, ad interim. “It further strengthens our commitment to diversity and inclusion at a departmental level. We look forward to collaborating with each vice chair, and I am excited to see the important work they will accomplish.”

The vice chairs for Diversity and Inclusion and the departments they represent are:

  • Omonele O. Nwokolo, MD, Department of Anesthesiology
  • Yolanda R. Villarreal, PhD, Department of Family Medicine
  • Omowunmi Aibana, MD, MPH, Department of Internal Medicine
  • Nicole R. Gonzales, MD, Department of Neurology
  • Syed S. Hashmi, MD, MPH, PhD, Department of Pediatrics
  • Elaheh Ashtari, PsyD, Louis A. Faillace, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Rodrick C. Zvavanjanja, MD, Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging
  • Ritha M. Belizaire, MD, Department of Surgery

The role of the vice chair is to demonstrate cultural awareness and knowledge, and to provide vision and leadership for diversity and inclusion initiatives across the department’s various clinical, research, and teaching sites.

As an education outlet, the vice chairs will provide training and development opportunities for faculty and administrative staff on issues pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion while working to expand existing training opportunities to improve the campus climate for faculty, staff, and students.

The vice chairs will play a role in the recruitment of future faculty and staff by providing effective strategies for identifying diverse candidates while working with faculty and staff search committees as well as residency and fellowship program leaders — working with each to address biases in screening and selection processes.

Among leadership, the vice chairs will help to serve as a catalyst for change throughout their departments by inspiring colleagues to achieve new levels of expertise, confidence, and productivity, while developing diversity-related goals and programs. Each vice chair will use these programs to help build, support, and sustain strategic partnerships with diverse populations, communities, and organizations.

Vice chairs for Diversity and Inclusion from the remaining departments at McGovern Medical School will be named at a later date.