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Penn State Health names first chief diversity officer

Lynette Chappell-Williams, JD, has been appointed Penn State Health’s first systemwide vice president and chief diversity officer.

In this expanded role, she will report directly to the CEO and lead the ongoing development of health system policies, programs and practices that advance diversity and inclusion in patient, employee and learner experiences.

In addition, she will address health disparities and build relationships with diverse businesses and suppliers. Chappell-Williams will maintain her role as associate dean for diversity and inclusion for Penn State College of Medicine.

“Among Lynette’s first priorities will be to lead education programs on unconscious bias and microaggressions for our workforce so that together we can create a more inclusive culture for all whose lives we touch,” said Steve Massini, Penn State Health CEO. “She will also work to advance a systemwide patient bias prevention program and develop systemwide strategies to increase the diversity of our workforce.”

Chappell-Williams has been with Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine since late 2015, when she was appointed the inaugural chief diversity officer for Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and associate dean for diversity and inclusion for the College of Medicine. In those roles, she established affinity groups for diverse employees, created the Inclusion Academy diversity educational programs, established medical student recruitment partnerships with four Historically Black Colleges and Universities and restructured the organization’s Diversity Council to focus on diversity initiatives developed by the college’s administrative, basic science and clinical departments. She also serves as an instructor in the college’s Department of Humanities

Chappell-Williams also led efforts that resulted in Hershey Medical Center’s passage of the patient bias policy, which prohibits patients, families and visitors from discriminating against the Medical Center’s workforce and College of Medicine learners. She also led a series of race relations town halls across the organization in June that resulted in more than 20 recommendations for change to improve work and care environments for Black employees and patients at Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine.

Through her leadership, Penn State Health has been recognized by Forbes as a “Best Employer for Diversity,” as a “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and as a “Best for Vets” workplace by the Military Times.

Prior to her arrival in Hershey, Chappell-Williams was the associate vice president for diversity at Cornell University, where she was responsible for the implementation of diversity initiatives, Title IX obligations and the work/life strategy for university employees.

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