2005 Laurita Thomas Diversity Champion Award Winners
The first Laurita Thomas Diversity Champion Award was presented at the UMHS Diversity Network Kick-Off Event, “Ordinary People Accomplishing the Extraordinary,” July 20, 2005, at Palmer Commons. This award honors one individual each year at the health system who has championed diversity in the workplace and the community.
This year’s recipient is Tom Biggs, Associate Hospital Director, Operations and Support Services of the Hospitals and Health Centers. Tom has been a committed champion of diversity for the health system and throughout the community for many years.
Tom models leadership commitment to diversity by actively participating in Health System diversity initiatives and programs, most notably serving as a member of the UMHS Diversity Advisory Team. He has championed recommendations made by this team and has been instrumental in efforts such as the UMHS Flag Program and the incorporation of diversity measures into our Employee Opinion Survey and Performance Evaluations for staff and leaders. He supported the installation of respectful meeting norms in all meeting rooms. Tom also serves as a member of the UMHS Diversity Advisory Team’s Learning and Growth Subcommittee whose focus is to support diversity learning and growth among staff. He actively participated in the Essentials for Leading a Diverse Workforce training program and encouraged all his managers and supervisors to attend.
Tom has shown great commitment to improving conflict resolution and problem-solving processes in his units and has championed efforts to improve relationships and problem solving with AFSCME leadership. This effort has resulted in a significant decrease (over 50%) in the number of grievances in one of his largest units.
Tom has also initiated and provided the support for the Materiel Services GED program, and English as a Second Language Program, providing opportunities for staff to obtain the tools needed to enhance their career options.
In the community, Tom serves as Chairperson for the City of Ypsilanti’s Human Relations Commission whose charge is to support efforts to enhance mutual understanding among the City's culturally diverse residents. This is only one of many areas of community involvement that Tom has either led or supported through his hard work, commitment and ability to bring people together to work toward the common good.