Kennedy Krieger Institute Launches Office of Health, Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity

tags: The Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training O-HEID

BALTIMORE, August 17, 2020 – Kennedy Krieger Institute, a non-profit organization internationally known for providing a wide range of health and education services for children, adolescents and adults with diseases, disorders or injuries that impact the nervous system, announced today that it is launching the Office of Health, Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity (O-HEID). The new Office is designed to promote the health and well-being of those who work, train, and receive services at the Institute through culturally relevant, evidence- and equity-based approaches that assure diversity and inclusion. Harolyn Belcher, MD, MHS, will lead O-HEID (pronounced O-Heed) and serve as the Institute’s inaugural vice president and chief diversity officer.

“Kennedy Krieger Institute is committed to excellence. Diverse thoughts, backgrounds and perspectives create a robust community that fosters the best innovation and ideas. We aspire to have individuals of all backgrounds, races, religions, ethnicities and identities thrive in an environment of respect, encouragement, equity and inclusion. Our new Office of Health, Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, under Dr. Belcher’s leadership, will galvanize institute-wide efforts so that we can achieve these goals.” said Bradley L. Schlaggar, MD, PhD, Kennedy Krieger’s president and CEO.

In addition to providing and creating culturally relevant, evidence- and equity-based resources for individuals who work, train, or receive services at the Institute, O-HEID will work to improve health and well-being by implementing anti-racism programs and policies. O-HEID will improve opportunities for mentorship, education, health disparities research, and career advancement and retention of those who work at Kennedy Krieger. O-HEID will work across the Institute and collaborate with Johns Hopkins University and city, state, and national organizations to eliminate health disparities and promote diversity, inclusion and leadership in the maternal and child health, mental health, and developmental disabilities fields.

Dr. Belcher commented, “I am so honored, thrilled and eager to head our new Office of Health, Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity—also known as O-HEID. I purposely chose this acronym to remind us all to heed– to pay careful attention - and also to paraphrase the words of the late Representative John Lewis to heed our highest calling and stand up for what we truly believe - to be part of the solution to assure health and wellness for the children, youth, and families we care for at the Institute. There are many caring people who work at Kennedy Krieger and make it a remarkable place with a history of advocacy, clinical care, training, and education that includes equity and inclusion for individuals with disabilities. Our goals are to expand on our legacy to ensure we are proactively anti-racist and culturally responsive to individual needs, strengthening the environment of work, education, and care that will foster the health, wellness, and abilities of all.”

Belcher is a neurodevelopmental pediatrician and research scientist who currently leads the Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training at Kennedy Krieger. As director of the Center for Diversity, Belcher and the Center for Diversity faculty and administrative team created a national consortium of universities and institutions that provide clinical, research, and community engagement and advocacy public health experiences for over 600 diverse undergraduate and graduate scholars. These opportunities are funded through grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). She also recently served as president of Kennedy Krieger’s medical staff where she applied her more than 20 years of experience to provide support for medical staff and ensure the Institute maintains excellence in patient care. She assumes her new role Sept. 1, 2020.

Belcher is jointly appointed in the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, holding the rank of full professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She received her Bachelor of Science and medical degree from Howard University and a Master of Health Science from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Dr. Belcher is the ideal person to lead this new office and expand our efforts for equity, diversity and inclusion at Kennedy Krieger. Among her many areas of expertise, she is an expert in public health equity issues. Her career-long commitment to evidence-driven approaches has resulted in a rich and unique professional background in understanding, researching, educating and communicating about public health equity,” said Schlaggar. “We are excited to see all that she and her team will accomplish in this new role---the entire Institute is eager to participate in, and support their efforts.”

About Kennedy Krieger Institute:   
Internationally recognized for improving the lives of children and adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal system, Kennedy Krieger Institute in the greater Baltimore/Washington, D.C. region serves 24,000 individuals a year through inpatient and outpatient clinics, home and community services, and school-based programs. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children with neurological issues, from mild to severe, and is home to a team of investigators who are contributing to the understanding of how disorders develop, while at the same time pioneering new interventions and methods of early diagnosis.   


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