Black health institute appoints new CEO

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Vanessa Greene Courtesy Grand Rapids African American Health Institute

The Grand Rapids African American Health Institute announced the hiring of Vanessa Greene as its CEO.

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 health care 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.”

Amid COVID-19, GRAAHI has been vocal in calling attention to the racial health disparities and inequities brought about by the virus. GRAAHI has highlighted how 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,” Greene said. “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, she 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,” Greene said. “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 of Science in criminal justice, from Grand Valley State University. She also is a certified diversity consultant, grant writer and intergroup dialogue facilitator.

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