The Unfinished Fight for Equality

As a child living in a nearly all-black neighborhood in inner-city Washington, DC, I noticed my community, in many ways, was in crisis. Too many people faced sickness, disability, and lack of access to the basic things people need to lead a healthy life. I later learned that what largely ailed my neighborhood were pervasive health inequalities, caused by societal factors that put certain communities at higher risk for disease, stress, and premature death. Simply put, the health of my community was suffering, not because of people’s genetics, but because of their zip code.

As a sophomore attending Spelman College, one of two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) for women, I began studying public health issues and reflecting on my own health care experiences. At various points in my childhood, I had been without health insurance, received care at a local community health center, while covered by the Medicaid program, and had seen family members suffer and perish from preventable chronic conditions. It was through that reflection, and my educational experiences, that I first crafted my ambitious professional vision to improve the health of vulnerable U.S. communities and to become a national health care leader.

Today, as vice president of social responsibility at UnitedHealthcare, my passion for improving health care infuses my efforts to lead the redefinition of care access and address the social determinants of health for communities across the country. Through UnitedHealthcare’s Empowering Health commitment, we strive to understand the challenges that exist for local communities, and have launched social-impact programs and initiatives to help transform the way we think about health, so that we fully consider the whole person.

As I look into my future as a black female corporate leader, I gain deep inspiration from the many women I have encountered and watched from afar in my personal and my professional life, who have endured challenges and broken boundaries as they sought to push the possibilities. It will never be lost on me that women of color, in particular, throughout history have been undaunted by the unfinished fight for equality. I plan to use my voice to continue to advocate regarding the health inequalities that affect me deeply, and I am more committed than ever to drive community impact where it is needed most.