Grand Rapids – Grand Rapids African American Health Institute — a leading national organization devoted to achieving healthcare parity for African Americans through advocacy, education, and research — has announced the hiring of Vanessa Greene as its Chief Executive Officer.
For the past 16 years, Greene has held leadership positions focused on fostering diversity and inclusion at Hope College. Leveraging her years of experience Greene will bring her leadership and strategic skills to the organization and drive forward its goal of health care parity in West Michigan and beyond.
“GRAAHI’s vision is to ensure that equitable access to healthcare within West Michigan is available to all its residents despite the color of one’s skin,” said Paul T. Doyle, CEO of Inclusive Performance Strategies and GRAAHI Board Chair. “We are thrilled to welcome Vanessa to GRAAHI and look forward to building upon that vision as she takes on this leadership role. Now, more than ever, it is important to continue to highlight the systemic inequities and racial health disparities in our community. As we continue to advocate for African Americans and communities of color, we see the reach and impact of GRAAHI will only be strengthened through this transition.”
Amidst COVID-19, GRAAHI has been a vocal leader calling attention to the racial health disparities and inequities brought about by the virus. GRAAHI has highlighted the ways in which the Black community has been disproportionately affected and has called on sponsors of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials to run more inclusive and diverse studies.
“We need to continue to recognize and highlight the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on the African American community,” said Vanessa Greene, GRAAHI CEO. “Throughout the pandemic, GRAAHI has done an excellent job acting as an ally for the community, both providing resources and calling for change. GRAAHI is well-positioned to continue those efforts as national and global leaders of health research, education, support, and advocacy. I am eager, ready, and prepared to lead the charge.”
In her previous role as Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Hope College, Greene was responsible for strategic vision, planning, and the implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, with a focus on the mental and physical well-being of students, faculty, and staff of color.
During this time, Greene also chaired a 12-member racial equity steering committee to bring greater awareness to the issues of systemic and structural racism and establish tangible, actionable, and measurable goals toward racial healing, equity, and institutional change.
“Research has shown that West Michigan is one of the lowest producers of health care providers of color,” said Greene. “Communities of color continue to distrust the health care system, which contributes to the ongoing disparities in treatment and prevention. I see infinite opportunities for GRAAHI to change this narrative and continue to make a difference within the community.”
Greene will transition into this role with 35 plus years of experience as well as with a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice, from Grand Valley State University. Greene is also a certified diversity consultant, grant writer, and intergroup dialogue facilitator.
GRAAHI was formed in 2002, as a result of overwhelming data and evidence that suggested the vast differences in healthcare outcomes for African Americans. The Kent County Health Department, State of Michigan, and the National government-provided staggering data showcasing the need for intentional effort and attention toward addressing racial and ethnic inequities in health. Since its birth, GRAAHI has continued to grow within this space, working to eliminate such inequities and shedding light on injustice within our community and healthcare systems.