Observing Black History Month With Leadership Profiles in Diversity…

To celebrate Black History Month, we have been publishing profiles of medical leaders of color from a range of functions and professional experiences to spotlight how diversity makes us stronger, more vital.

Mickie Long, Business Manager, Radiology Services, St. Joe’s Oakland

  • How has being a person of color shaped your experience as a health care leader? Being a black male health leader provided an opportunity to learn from other cultures and what others have to offer outside my experience. Being open to other cultures, religions and people helped me grow and achieve a lot in life. As a young man I experienced a number of challenges including homelessness, along with obstacles placed in my way by individuals and organizations – which did not define me. Staying focused and willing to change and having my own goals kept me moving forward, driving toward new careers that included 8 years of service in the U.S. Army, HVAC repair, Law Enforcement and auto mechanics, before I discovered radiology 20 years ago. While it seemed like the odds were against me at times, I kept pursuing my education, earning an associate’s degree and then completing my bachelor’s degree. I was also able to surround myself with people who kept me motivated in programs where I continued to grow personally and professionally. When I started in this field I knew very little about medical imaging, but I saw a future here and have never looked back, only forward.
  • What or who has been an inspiration to you during your journey? Nobody succeeds in life all by themselves and there have been too many people to name who inspired me. I can say my mom’s grace and patience with people was an inspiration. My dad’s firm guidance gave me balance and direction when I needed it. Sometimes even the people who doubted me provided inspiration to keep going. As I read about Malcom X, his transition toward building relationships and moving toward unity provided a model that I still use. My fourth grade teacher Mrs. Tellis who supported and appreciated me provided another foundation. My brothers and my children along with pastors all provide a caring, spiritual life that guides me every day. I also need to recognize the positive and respectful leadership of Karin March, Shannon Striebich, Keyantee’ Davis and Virginia Chambo. The big picture is that there is a lot of support here and room to grow.  
  • Education: Associates Degree: Oakland Community College. Bachelor’s Degree: Ashford University, graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Health Care Administration program.  
  • Expertise: Radiology, 20 years of experience.

Melanie A. Edwards, MD, Thoracic Surgeon, IHA Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor

  • How has being a person of color shaped your experience as a health care leader?  I don’t wake up every morning thinking ‘I’m a black woman surgeon,’ I focus on patient care and making a difference in the lives of patients… but I know as a thoracic surgeon who is a woman of color, I am an under-represented minority. There are not many similar providers who share my experience and that does shape my perspective as a mentor.  Mentoring is complex, there is a scarcity of female mentors as persons of color in the field of thoracic surgery, but the up side is that the support between women of color in this field is crucial. To help guide younger physicians, I work with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons to provide early career education on a range of topics and have also coauthored an article on mentorship. 
  • What or who has been an inspiration to you during your journey? 

My inspiration starts with family. I come from a family of hard working immigrants. In addition to medical mentors, I have also been inspired by Atul Gawande a writer for the The New Yorker who covers a range of vital health care issues including the importance of quality and listening to patient voices.

 – Education: Dr. Edwards earned her medical degree from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in Loma Linda, California. She completed her general surgery residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center through Harvard Medical School and cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at Saint Louis University. Furthermore, she completed a minimally invasive thoracic surgery fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and serves in the leadership of several other professional organizations including Women in Thoracic Surgery.

– Expertise: Minimally invasive and robotic thoracic surgery.  Providing treatment for lung cancer, esophageal cancer, surgery for benign esophageal disease, mediastinal lesions, chest wall masses and hyperhidrosis.

Maria Woods,  St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital, Patient Access Manager Inspired Colleagues’ Dedication

How has being a person of color shaped your experience as a health care leader?

Working in health care is a calling for most of my colleagues. It’s the desire to help others that attracts and keeps you working in this profession. Being a person of a multi-cultural background has given me the ability to have a better understanding of different perspectives when it comes to serving our communities. I am always open to opportunities to grow, learning from my experiences and sharing with others as well.

What or who has been an inspiration to you during your journey?

The people I work with every day inspire and motivate me; especially during this difficult pandemic year.  Everyone has pulled together to serve our patients, families and each other in a way that you could not have imagined.  Witnessing my colleagues work harder each day to help our patients and serve our entire community is an inspiration and it keeps me focused on our healing mission.

  • Education: Bachelors in Business Administration – European University  
  • Expertise: Revenue Excellence- Outpatient Patient Access at St Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Financial Counseling at St Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Patient Access Team Lead then Manager at St Joseph Mercy Livingston

Darryl Cook,  St. Mary Mercy Livonia, Nurse Manager is Inspired by his Team, Passion for Service

How has being a person of color shaped your experience as a health care leader?

My experience as a health care leader here at St. Mary Mercy’s over the past five years has been great. During my leadership journey starting in the Marine Corps, I’ve been exposed to diverse leadership styles and have led men and women from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. My prior leadership experience has prepared and given me the ability to identify with and lead people of all cultures. Being a minority in leadership has been my experience for my entire professional career, and that perspective has been extremely valuable.

What or who has been an inspiration to you during your journey? Although I’ve had many inspirations during this journey, including my colleagues on the Nurse Management team, Director and CNO; my biggest inspiration has been my TEAM on 3 South. This TEAM shows up every day and they leave nothing on the table at the end of their shifts. They are one of the most selfless, motivated and professional teams that I’ve had the opportunity to lead and that’s why I love coming to work to support them as they support me.

  • Education: Madonna University Bachelors of Science in Nursing
  • Expertise: Unit Manager – Progressive Care and Stroke Unit
  • Military Service: Served nearly ten years in the Marine Corps, achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant while serving in Japan and posts in the U.S as an Administrative Chief.

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