When I think about politicians, corporate business structures, or anyone in a significant leadership role, I automatically picture a white man. Why is that? Well, up until 2008, that’s what we all saw. It was the standard. Donald Trump; Steve Jobs; Bill Gates; every US President. Then, a young fellow from Chicago, who seemed to have charmed his way into our hearts within minutes of learning he existed, won the US presidency. It was incredible. Not so much because he was a Black man or because he was good-looking. It was because his face brought a welcomed change to what we considered the norm. It could have been anyone, really, other than another Caucasian male. We welcomed the change. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been re-elected. Just saying.
So flash forward to 2016. A FEMALE is leading in the polls for the Democratic party. For all intents and purposes, she could very well be our next US President. This would be another huge break away from the standards: a woman running our country. Who would have even considered such a thing 20 years ago?
Whenever there is a glass-shattering event such as this, we think about the change it will bring elsewhere. Very recently, my organization has worked on expanding their division of diversity and inclusion. I, being a young, black woman in a leadership role within my institution, immediately started to make contacts with people leading this new charge to offer my assistance. I guess I am what some would refer to as a triple threat — a threat meaning that I’m feared the most when it comes to HR policies (i.e., significant potential for discrimination). While I understand that I am protected, I still worry that I will be looked over for promotions and other opportunities within my organization because I don’t see many of “me” in those positions today. It’s a bit intimidating, but alas, we continue to move forward. 40 years ago, as a 32 year old, I would not be in the position I am today, and I am thankful for the progression (even though some folks swear we are still in 1960).
On Thursday morning, I received a broadcast email from our current President, who is due to step down at the end of June. The title read, “Dr. Redonda Miller appointed new President of Johns Hopkins Hospital”. I thought I was dreaming. The name rang all kinds of bells. I immediately searched through my email sent box to see if I could make a connection. I found that I had been working with her for several years concerning the IRB review of research involving medical students and staff. She was always quite pleasant in our conversations and that is why her name felt familiar. *Goes back to email*. So not only was this woman (who was under 50 years old, married to another doctor and has 2 school-aged daughters) going to be the 11th President of JHH, she was a WOMAN — the FIRST FEMALE to lead this institution in its 127 year history! WOW. WOW. How’s that for diversity and inclusion? I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Dr. Redonda Miller, President of Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the most prestigious medical institutions in the world. It is not often that I can sit, reflect, and thank God I am a woman, but I sat for several minutes, even emailing the information to my mom and my husband, beaming with pride. I can honestly say “I knew her when…” and that is so cool. I wish nothing but success and good ju-ju for her in this new role.
That said, I now have a renewed sense of ownership within my organization. I am comfortable where I am, for now, but I see the potential to do so much more and to make a difference. I intend to retire from Johns Hopkins (I can’t go anywhere — they’re paying 1/2 my childs’ tuition wherever they go to college. Who doesn’t want that?) so that means I need to find or MAKE room for growth. I am positive that having a female President will make those moves just a tad bit easier. Add a female US President on top of that and there’s no stopping me!