Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at The University of Vermont Health Network

UVMHN DEI Commitment

The UVM Health Network is dedicated to creating a workplace that is diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive for our employees, patients and communities we serve. This commitment will be included in all strategies and policies and will represent who we are as an organization.

Our Communities

Partner with our diverse communities to ensure everyone has an equitable and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.

Our priorities include:

  • Align and harmonize our resource allocation in the community by leveraging existing best practices and initiatives.
  • Cultivate bi-directional representation of staff and patients on community and/or network workgroups, boards, and commissions.
  • Collaborate with our community to reduce health disparities.

Our Patients and Families

Create an environment for all patients and families to receive the care they need while feeling seen, safe and heard.

Our priorities include:

  • Develop a network-wide approach to collect, measure and report health equity and patient experience data.
  • Address barriers to care for our structurally marginalized patients and families.
  • Educate our people on culturally humble practices.

Our People and Culture

Attract and retain a diverse workforce by creating a lasting culture of growth and belonging.

Our priorities include:

  • Create pathways for personal and career growth to enhance employee engagement.
  • Align employee practices and policies to prevent inequitable impact.
  • Create opportunities for employees to connect with each other and the organization’s mission.
  • Share information in a timely and meaningful way to foster connection and trust.
  • Influence and inform an inclusive recruitment process.

DEI Leadership

Marissa Coleman (She/Her), VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The University of Vermont Medical Center

Marissa N. Coleman, PsyD is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Vermont Medical Center. She is a practicing bilingual, clinical psychologist with a specialty in International Psychology and Human Rights. Additionally, Dr. Coleman serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont. She completed her pre-doctoral residency at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami; followed by her postdoctoral fellowship at Emory School of Medicine. With her background in creating culturally grounded healing spaces, Dr. Coleman’s work emphasizes psychological safety, liberation theory, and centering the role of community in systemic change.

Her career in healthcare spans domestically and internationally with focus areas in program development, monitoring and reporting, participatory action research, DEI strategic planning, and cultivating holistic educational experiences. Dr. Coleman continues to work in multiple international contexts, particularly working with individuals and communities affected by human rights violations, conflict/war, torture, health epidemics, and trauma. Utilizing her expertise in social justice, traumatology, cultural and community psychologies, she seeks to contribute to local capacity building, infrastructure development, and culturally humble approaches to what is considered “best practice” in the areas of equity, belonging, and psychological well-being. She has worked in numerous countries including Jamaica, Brazil, Mexico, Kenya, and El Salvador.

My approach in the DEI space is directly connected to my own multicultural background, international experiences, and training in psychology. I am inspired by the incredible employees, patients, and community members that I see every day and feel grateful to help cultivate a sense of belonging for every employee, patient, and learner.

Guadalupe Martinez (She/Her), Network Diversity Director

The University of Vermont Health Network

Guadalupe is a Mexican/American millennial who emigrated from Sonora, Mexico to Arizona with her family at a young age. Thankfully, because of her DACA status, she received her Master of Healthcare Administration from the University of Arizona in the spring of 2022.

Her lived experiences of food adversity, house instability, and health disparities propelled her to become a DEI professional in 2018 at Banner Health, a large integrated health system, where she had the opportunity to be one of the founders of their Diversity and Inclusion department. During her time there, Guadalupe co-led and established Employee Resource Groups, facilitated Unconscious Bias, Macroaggressions, and LGBTQ+ Health 101 across clinical and non-clinical teams, and fostered community relationships, all aimed to tackle health disparities.

She was fortunate to join the University of Vermont Health Network as their first Network Diversity Director, in March of 2022 where her focus is cultivating a culture of belonging and addressing health equity. In her short time with the network, Guadalupe has delivered DEI and LGBTQIA+ care training to leadership at multiple hospitals and agency, is spearheading policies aimed at creating more equitable processes for staff, patients, and communities alike, and is collaborating with key network partners to identify DEI metrics and data. She is excited to continue serving marginalized and underserved populations by fostering a culture of innovation, belonging and equity across the communities that the University of Vermont Health Network operates in and serves.

My lived experiences of food adversity, house instability, and health disparities not only within my own family but surrounding communities propelled me to be an advocate for historically marginalized communities and am passionate about building equitable opportunities for all individuals.

Erin Armstrong (She/Her), Director, Community Health Improvement

The University of Vermont Health Network

Erin Armstrong is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and experienced leader. After graduating from St. Michael’s College she completed two years of AmeriCorps VISTA, and worked at alternative schools before graduating from Bryn Mawr College of Social Work in 2006. In her early years as a social worker, she worked with many people experiencing systemic barriers. She has since provided oversight and supervision of several therapeutic, case management and residential programs for individuals experiencing mental illness.

Since 2017, she has held a variety of leadership positions at the UVM Medical Center, shifting from directly connecting people to the care they need, to addressing some of the upstream factors that lead to the barriers and injustices people face. Erin currently leads a team of talented individuals who work closely alongside community partners to address community priorities, health literacy, and the development of health equity initiatives. She is excited to bring her knowledge, build new partnerships, and highlight the voice of the community to make a greater impact on all of the areas served by the UVMHN.

I feel honored to be a part of an organization that prioritizes DEI. I am humbled to be on this journey with a team of talented professionals and to be able to listen and learn from the community in effort to make it a more just and thriving place for everyone.

alex prussin, MPH (They/Them), Interim Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director, UVMHN Medical Group

The University of Vermont Health Network

alex is the interim University of Vermont Health Network Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Director for the Medical Group. alex is a gender non-conforming, queer, bilingual, and empathetic human who has centered their work around DEI for many years. They have over 18 years of experience in the healthcare field including direct patient care, operations, leading health care centers, and mentoring leaders. They grew up in Berkley California, spending time traveling to the east coast as well as Germany to visit family.

In this role, they are focused on understanding the needs of the Network Medical Group and creating a structure of support to achieve its DEI goals, directly linked to the Health Network DEI strategic plan. Chief among those goals in the network-wide DEI strategic plan is creating a culture that provides a sense of belonging to all that work within the Medical Group and provides respectful and meaningful healthcare to all that seek care within our network.

Most recently, they were the Assistant Director of Psychiatry and Neurology for the UVMMC Medical Group for the last 6.5 years. In this role they were responsible for outpatient healthcare practices within both departments, including leading, coaching, and mentoring 8 clinical and practice supervisors.

Before moving to Vermont, they worked at Planned Parenthood and the University of California at San Francisco for many years. alex holds a bachelor’s degree in Critical Gender Studies with a minor in dance from the University of California, San Diego, a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, and are a Co-Active trained coach.

Exclusion and disparities have been a large part of the lens in which I see the world for much of my life, including the lens through which my education showed the world. I have experienced exclusion and disparities in my own life and am someone with a huge amount of privilege. With that privilege comes an enormous amount of responsibility. My goal is to lead from this place of responsibility in everything I do to impact the building of an environment where we all genuinely feel that we belong and where healthcare experiences are centered around the human receiving care and their identities to improve their lives.

Geera Demers, MPA, CPHQ, PMP (she/her)

The University of Vermont Health Network

Geera is the University of Vermont Medical Center Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Director over Employee Experience and Education. Geera has twenty years of experience in health care including facilitating trainings, program management, health administration, quality improvement, and strategic planning. In her DEI role, she guides leaders and managers on DEI practices and how to navigate complex DEI-related situations with their staff. She facilitates and develops DEI trainings to improve knowledge, culture, and employee retention. Geera also supports the network-wide DEI strategic planning work. Prior to this role, Geera was the Senior Quality Improvement Partner for the Jeffords Institute for Quality for The University of Vermont Health Network. In her quality improvement role, she provided project management support for the hospital, network, and external community stakeholders using quality improvement methodologies and best practices.

Before moving to Vermont, Geera worked in New York City as the Program Manager for the Cancer Prevention Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital (NYP), where she enhanced the hospital’s market presence by organizing cancer screenings, awareness events and educational lectures. In her role as the research project coordinator at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, she conducted research for multi-institutional clinical trials, which included researchers from nationally recognized cancer centers in Italy and India.

Our organization’s commitment to DEI work is not only essential for creating a more equitable and inclusive culture, but it also helps us grow as an organization and sustain us for the ever-evolving healthcare landscape. By incorporating my own lived experiences into this work, I am grateful to create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to our collective success.

Kerry Haley, CFRE, (She/Her), Interim Lead of DEI for NY Partners and Associate Vice President of Philanthropy

Kerry Haley is the Interim Lead for Diversity Equity & Inclusion for our NY Health Network Partners and is the Associate Vice President of Philanthropy for The Foundation of CVPH in Plattsburgh, NY and UVM Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, NY. She has worked in health care philanthropy for over 20 years and enjoys working with donors to align their passion for helping others with opportunities to improve health in our region. Kerry received her MBA from Norwich University and Bachelor of Science in Business from SUNY Plattsburgh. She has been a Certified Fund Raising Professional since 2012. In her home life, Kerry and her husband have two teenage boys, two dogs and too many chickens. They operate a small choose and cut Christmas tree farm next to their home in Beekmantown, NY.

Prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion in our Network and throughout our communities is essential to our being a leading healthcare provider and to creating a region that thrives.

Taylor Small, (she/her), Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director, Health Equity and Community Engagement

The University of Vermont Medical Center

Taylor Small is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director – Health Equity and Community Engagement at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Small was born and raised in New England and has been living in Vermont for the last 14 years. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies and a minor in sexuality and gender identity studies in 2016 and has lived in the greater Burlington area since.

Her career path has been focused on addressing the needs of those most marginalized in our state and has included working with homeless and runaway youth, providing youth crisis stabilization, adolescent case management, advancing LGBTQIA+ health equity, and leading equity work for non-profits, state organizations, and municipalities. Prior to this position, Small served as the Health & Wellness Program Director for the Pride Center of Vermont where she trained over 2,000 healthcare and human service professionals across the state in cultural humility and LGBTQIA+ healthcare.

Most notably, Small was elected to the Vermont State Legislature in 2020 and now serves as the only out transgender representative in the state and one of a dozen nationwide. Her consistent focus in all areas of her work is to center those most impacted and to ensure that lived-experience perspectives are not only heard but considered throughout decision-making processes. Small is excited to bring her passion for community building and health equity to the UVM Medical Center team and looks forward to expanding the medical center’s impact for the community at-large.

To honor the opportunity this position affords me, I am committed to expand upon my population health equity work and actively build a sense of belonging for everyone that interacts with the medical center and our affiliates.

UVM Medical Center has been named a Health Care Equality High Performer by the Human Rights Campaign.

“We are committed to creating an environment that reflects the diversity of UVM Medical Center and ensures every patient across our region receives exemplary care in an environment of compassion, trust and safety. Patient-centered care and health equity go hand-in-hand. Reducing health disparities is central to the work we do each day, and surveys like the HEI are important tools that help us evaluate ourselves and continue to improve.” - Marissa Coleman, PsyD, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Employee Resource Groups

Our employee resource groups (ERGs) are employee-led programs with a focus on employee and patient experience, community outreach, recruitment, and support for those who identify with one or both diverse groups. Each ERG is led by two co-leaders who facilitate monthly meetings that provide space to process, educate, and cultivate ongoing opportunities to build community.

Our Mission and Vision: To co-create culturally inclusive spaces for processing, networking, educating, empowering, and celebrating people with resources and discussion.

REACH (Racial Equity and Cultural Humility) ERG uplifts our BIPOC employees and is co-lead by Alli Castille (they/she) and Vanessa Rose (she/her)

SAGE (Sexuality and Gender Equity) uplifts our LGBTQA+ employees and is co-lead by Tanya MacDonald (she/her) and Wendy Shores (she/her).

Both ERGs welcome allies to attend and support their colleagues.

Our Commitment to Employing Young Adults with Disabilities

Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH is an innovative, business-led, school to work transition program for young adults with disabilities hosted at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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