The American Conference on Diversity drew healthcare leaders from throughout the tri-state area to educate & advocate for change


In mid-May, the American Conference on Diversity provided a unique learning experience to a full house of healthcare providers and administrators at the NJ Hospital Association Conference Center in Princeton, NJ.

The full-day symposium kicked off with attendees pairing up to brainstorm ways to combine their skills and give people who aren’t heard within the healthcare arena a voice. The ice-breaking exercise set the stage for a dynamic keynote by Wayne Boatwright, MHA, CDM, Vice President of Cultural Diversity at Meridian Health. As the highest-ranking African American within the organization – and with more than 20 years of experience partnering with senior management to ensure the productive use of human capital – Mr. Boatwright’s insights laid the groundwork for expanding cultural competency within the profession beyond the basics of health-disparities awareness.




“Passion and awareness do not equal implementation. It equals impassion awareness,” he said (above right). “Hospitals collect race/ethnicity and language data, but only 22 percent use it to identify treatments and outcomes. Hospital board members of color are only 14 percent – and that’s unchanged since 2011… Why is it that our organizations are still not addressing areas of health disparities? Why is it that we still don’t see minorities in key positions? Are we working to create an illusion of inclusion – or are we working to make a change?”

Mr. Boatwright’s thought-provoking presentation was followed by a fact-filled speech on advancing health equity in New Jersey by Dr. M. Carolyn Daniels, Executive Director of the New Jersey Department of Health Office of Minority and Multicultural Health. From data on changing health behaviors of New Jersey foreign-born residents to prenatal care percentages among women of color in the state, Dr. Daniels provided a comprehensive and resource-rich talk that segued to a moderated panel discussion. The panelists included:



► Seham Abdala (seated), Director of the NJ Islamic Networks Group, who shared the cultural needs of Muslim patients

► Dr. Eddie Santiago (seated), an internal medicine specialist and Director at Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey, revealed end-of-life concerns among New Jersey patients, particularly the largest and fastest growing ethnic population — Latinos

► Anna M. Trautwein (at the podium), RNC Practice Administrator, Women’s Ambulatory Care Services at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, discussed “cultural brokerage” and ways to build alliances with diverse populations.


In addition, Assistant Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Ryan P. Parker (above) broke down the key elements of operationalizing diversity and inclusion within healthcare institutions and shared them with participants. The conference also debuted a special screening of “Raices de Buena Salud/Roots of Good Health: Building Bridges of Understanding (Part 2),” hosted by John Quiñones and presented by William Sanchez, Executive Producer and Emmy Award-winning director of Images/Imagenes, television program. Shot throughout the tri-state area, including an interview with our President & CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley in New Brunswick, this eye-opening film exposes how language barriers and disparities in care put the health of Latinos at risk. Watch Part 1 here: “Roots of Good Health” as well as the Healthcare Equity conference were sponsored by the Horizon Foundation for NJ.

The day concluded with a call to action to attendees to use the principles shared during the 6th annual event to create blue-ribbon healthcare standards and to implement them throughout their organizations.

“Embracing the value of diversity and inclusion in healthcare is a matter of life and death,” said Ms. Williams-Riley. “Let’s move beyond bias to deliver quality care!”

About the American Conference on Diversity

The American Conference on Diversity was founded in 1948 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Today, the programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders; enhancing our workplaces; and helping to create inclusive communities. The American Conference on Diversity builds on an historic mission and creates programs and activities relevant and vital to 21st Century life. It is a journey we can all take together. The American Conference on Diversity operates Regional Community Networks covering all of New Jersey. Visit to learn more.



Gail Zoppo

Media Relations Consultant

109 Church Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901