2019 Diversity Awards Honor Outstanding Efforts to Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

By Barbara Sanchez

grop shot of Diversity Award awardees

The recipients of the 2019 Diversity Awards pose for a photo with Chancellor Sam Hawgood and Vice Chancellor Renee Chapman Navarro. Clockwise from top left: Kwadwo (Kojo) Opoku-Nsiah, Jacqueline Fabius, Tung Nguyen, Timothy Montgomery, Matthew Bucknor, Vice Chancellor Renee Chapman Navarro, Nicole Bush, Raziel Rizzo, Chancellor Sam Hawgood, Lori Thoemmes, Susan Kegeles, Adair Borges, Heather Richbourg, and Laura Camp. Photo by Marco Sanchez

UC San Francisco has recognized 12 recipients of the 2019 Chancellor Diversity Awards for their outstanding efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in their fields and in the wider community.

The faculty, staff and students were honored by Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, and Vice Chancellor Renee Chapman Navarro, MD, PharmD, during a luncheon on Oct. 24.

Hawgood spoke of the ongoing need to create a diverse and welcoming culture at UCSF, particularly because complex social injustices and polarization are increasing in the Bay Area, in the United States, and around the globe. “Inequity affects both our UCSF family and the communities we serve,” said Hawgood. “An environment that doesn’t let everyone, regardless of role or background, achieve their full potential is not an option.”

“The recipients of the Diversity Awards make our campus, medical centers and the communities they serve more diverse, equitable, and inclusive,” said Navarro, the UCSF Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach. “They’re creative, resourceful, and determined people who go far above and beyond their normal responsibilities to move UCSF closer to our goal of being a place that truly welcomes and includes all.”

Sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Outreach, the Diversity Awards celebration is a flagship event held annually during UCSF’s Diversity Month. Faculty, learners and staff are named in each of four award categories – Advancement of Women, Disability Service, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex (LGBTQI) Leadership Leadership.

Advancement of Women

Nicole Bush, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Division Chief in the Department of Pediatrics. A firm advocate for faculty women and trainees, Bush is the co-chair of the Recruitment and Retention Task Force for her department’s Diversity Committee. Her research addresses health disparities and resilience among underserved, underprivileged populations, with a special emphasis on the needs of pregnant women and mothers.

Jacqueline Fabius, chief operating officer for the Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI), is committed to advancing women in the biosciences and in the world at large. Fabius established the QBI Scholarship for Women in Developing Nations and is known for her enduring promotion of women, ensuring that they are equally represented as applicants, grant reviewers and research initiatives.

Heather Richbourg, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Richbourg has demonstrated a sustained commitment to advancing women and underrepresented groups in STEM. She has participated in student-led discussions of the NASEM sexual harassment report, working to ensure that UCSF’s sexual harassment policies are fair and enforced to prevent losing women scientists at all career levels. Richbourg also serves on the board of directors of the American Association of Anatomists and has used her position to advocate for a safe and protective environment within the association.

Disability Service

Under director Timothy Montgomery’s leadership, the two-person office of Student Disability Services at UCSF has stretched to serve more than 10 percent of the student population across all schools and campuses. Dedicated to bringing awareness of people with disabilities and eliminating stigma, Tim authored and believes wholeheartedly in the mission of Student Disability Services. He has made the practice of accommodations in clinical settings a reality and has brought all of schools into access and inclusivity compliance.

Raziel Rizzo, a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, underwent spinal surgery for scoliosis at the age of 13, and the surgery left her paralyzed from the waist down. Months of rehabilitation and years of physical challenges led her to seek a career in physical therapy, and today her colleagues say that she has leveraged an otherwise devastating life experience to become an incomparable role model, motivating all with whom she interacts. She served as the student voice in the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education symposium in Washington, DC and is known for her ability able to relate authentically with patients, classmates, faculty and the wider community.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership

Matthew Bucknor, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, serves as the chair of the department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Bucknor has positioned his UCSF department at the forefront of diversity initiatives. One example is his innovation of department-driven pipeline programs that operate at the high school, college, and medical student levels. The Research Initiative to promote Diversity in Radiology (RIDR), the first of these programs, has grown steadily since its inception and in summer 2019 increased in size to 10 students with a record 28 students applying. Among numerous other accomplishments, Bucknor has also implemented routine departmental training on unconscious bias for individuals involved in recruitment.

Tung Nguyen, MD, a professor in the School of Medicine, has dedicated his career to minority health and health equity issues. One of only a few first-generation Vietnamese Americans in academic medicine, Nguyen’s lifelong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion stems from his experiences as a child refugee that arrived in the U.S. in 1975. A certified bilingual health care provider, Nguyen also leads substantial health disparities research programs that have been funded by NIH, PCORI, CDC and foundations, and works with the Office of Diversity and Outreach on the Annual Health Disparities Research Symposium. In addition to these accomplishments, Nguyen is an effective mentor who has inspired students and faculty to dedicate their careers toward advancing the goals of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Laura Camp, MBA, assistant finance director in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, has been a member of the UCSF Black Caucus for over 10 years. Leading with professionalism and integrity, Camp serves as Black Caucus Treasurer, and has cemented its ability to serve the campus in the areas of community building, advocacy, and professional development. As a member of the steering committee, Camp has been instrumental in expanding the reach of the Caucus, both in terms of its membership on campus and with the greater San Francisco Black Community. In addition, within the Caucus and across UCSF, Camp is lauded for consistently creating an atmosphere of inclusion and openness.

Kwadwo (Kojo) Opoku-Nsiah, PhD, a student in Chemistry & Chemical Biology, is a member of the UCSF Faculty Diversity Committee and president of Scientists 4 Diversity (S4D) at UCSF. Since coming to UCSF Opoku-Nsiah has engaged in a wide-ranging slate of activities aimed at centering diversity, inclusion and equity within the scientific enterprise and setting the stage for long-term, institutionalized change. Communicating with stakeholders from across the campus, Opoku-Nsiah is known for challenging those in positions of authority to use their power and influence with greater effect and reach. He has helped to bring diversity to the core curriculum, worked with Dean Elizabeth Watkins, PhD, and the Graduate Division to identify tools that improve mentorship relations at UCSF, co-organized “Perspective Matters: A Forum on Diversity,” a campus-wide forum comprising small-group discussions on issues that challenge researchers across multiple identities, and worked with the SF-BUILD scholars’ program. In short, he is recognized across the Graduate Division as an inspiring leader who will leave a legacy of programs and ideal even after he graduates in early 2020.  

LGBTQI Leadership

Susan Kegeles, PhD, a professor in the School of Medicine, works to promote HIV prevention for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, and has become an international leader in gay men’s and transgender women’s health. Her work to mobilize young gay men to organize around HIV prevention in their local communities has resulted in the Mpowerment Project, one of the most widely implemented HIV prevention programs across the country and internationally. She has supported the UCSF Center of Excellence for Transgender Health since its founding, and her work in Peru mobilizes transgender women and gay men to work together to improve engagement in the entire continuum of HIV prevention and care.

Lori Thoemmes, LMFT, is director of UCSF Alliance Health Project (AHP). Since joining AHP in 1993, Thoemmes has been a tireless champion for marginalized women, people of color, people with disabilities, and especially for the health and human rights of LGBTQI individuals. At AHP, Thoemmes has ensured that issues of diversity and culturally appropriate services are central to the care provided. Under her leadership, fully one-quarter of AHP in-services are focused on some aspect of cultural competence. Additionally, she has made diversity in hiring a priority with the goal of having a clinical staff that meets or exceeds the diversity of clients that served—whether this be in terms of LGBTQI status or in terms of racial, gender and ethnic representation.

Adair Borges, PhD, a student in Biomedical Science and president of the UCSF Graduate Queer Alliance (GQA), is an advocate and activist who has made concrete contributions to the LGBTQ+ community at UCSF. In response to a leaked memo from the Trump administration on limiting trans rights, Borges sprang into action, working with members of the basic science community to draft a letter of solidarity and support to members of the UCSF LGBTQI community. This effort raised awareness for transgender issues with Chancellor Hawgood and other senior leaders, who committed to a public statement of support for transgender people, and initiated the process of improving access and navigation of health care for transgender individuals at UCSF. As GQA president, Borges has built community and focused efforts on supporting vulnerable and marginalized people at UCSF and beyond.