2006 Laurita Thomas Diversity Champion Award Winners
Name: Kimber Converso
Position/Department: Cardiac sonographer, Pediatric Cardiology/Echo Research, UMHS Pride Network Chair
Years Employed at UMHS: 7
What does diversity mean to you?
Diversity means not just tolerating, or accepting all of our differences but embracing them, learning from our differences.
How do you demonstrate your commitment to diversity at work?
I have been very open and out as a member of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community and have had nothing but positive experiences as an employee here at UMHS. I am, however, aware that this is not necessarily everyone's experience and I want to change that by helping to create an open, welcoming and safe work environment. This is why I helped to start the UMHS Pride Network, an employee resource and patient advocacy group for TBLGA faculty and staff.
As Chairperson of the Pride Network, the Vision statement I helped to define states that we hope to create a safe, inclusive, equitable, confidential and supportive environment for TBLGA (Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, and Allies) staff, faculty, students, patients and visitors at UMHS, so that everyone is empowered to be authentic without fear. I think that sums it up. What do I hope to accomplish? I don't think I could state it better than our Mission statement: "The UMHS Pride Network, focusing on concerns of sexual orientation and gender identity, will contribute to the creation and maintenance of an inclusive UMHS environment; through visibility, education, advocacy, and support for the TBLGA community."
What drives you to make this effort toward embracing our differences?
I always witnessed my parents’ involvement in causes they strongly believed in. Although our causes are not remotely similar, they inspired me to get involved, to speak up for what I believe in, to try to make a difference no matter how small. I joined the Diversity Advisory Team in 2004 so that I could become involved with UMHS diversity efforts. Even though LGBT issues are my primary focus at this time, I have always been and continue to be interested and invested in diversity in all of its forms. One of my favorite quotes, which is by Mahatma Gandhi, states: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." That is what I strive for every day.
What others are saying about Kimber:
“Kimber has made tremendous efforts towards ensuring that we celebrate the diversity within the health system. She has been instrumental in educating us on all LGBT issues. She has worked hard to develop the LGBT Ally training Program.” - Joanna Guillen, HR Rep, Internal Medicine