Jeffrey F. Hines, MD is UConn Health’s inaugural Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). He began the new role a few weeks ago which is an important institutional milestone for UConn Health and his leadership will be building upon UConn Health’s strong diversity commitment and efforts. UConn Today sat down with Hines to learn more about what he thinks of the organization and its people so far, and his DEI plans for the future.
Q: How has your first few weeks at UConn Health been?
A: I’m on my listening tour across UConn Health right now. Diversity, equity and inclusion is work done by all of us so I’ve been meeting with leadership across UConn Health and also I’ve been loving walking around to do walking office rounds and knocking on various doors to say “Hi, I’m Dr. Jeffrey Hines” to learn about our organization, people, and culture. I am identifying where we are right now when it comes to DEI to see where we want to be. One of my biggest tasks to accomplish this is inventorying all that we have going on across disciplines in DEI programming and educational opportunities.
Q: What is your goal as CDO for UConn Health?
A: My aim is to bring everyone together. This will be key to our success. I am identifying all that we have to celebrate and hope to grow initiatives further where we have opportunity. I am a converger. In my role as Chief Diversity Officer I want to build and bring all UConn Health’s strong DEI initiatives together with some best practices that we can use to drive all our initiatives forward. DEI is for everyone whether you’re an attending physician, educator, learner or line staff. We want to make sure we lift up DEI initiatives among all on campus and across the entire enterprise.
Q: What’s your perspective on UConn Health’s people?
A: People at UConn Health are very kind. That’s so important. Kindness is the building block for respect, the building block for belonging, and the building block for welcoming. These are all the building blocks for diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s wonderful that kindness is already embedded in the culture of UConn Health making it such a strong foundation to build further upon. I recently observed the kindness of a very busy clinic’s front-line staff proactively practicing DEI every step of the way. The wonderful observation informed me a lot about the great work already being done here at UConn Health and what opportunities to look for in the future.
Q: How will you define success?
A: Just like the University of Connecticut, UConn Health is very serious about the importance of DEI. I look forward to continuously sharing meaningful communications with the UConn Health community. For me, one way to define our future success is when without prompting other parts of the organization start lifting up our DEI ideals after it becomes more embedded in the DNA and culture of our community. That’s when you know it works. Another way to define success, is looking at our DEI effort outcomes such as implementation of policy changes and real growth in community engagement and in relationships with our community partners. The biggest aspect of our success is when DEI is ubiquitous within the organization.