SON Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee: 2021 Activities and Initiatives

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  • Committee name changed from the Diversity & Inclusion Committee to the Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) Committee to reflect our commitment to social justice and equity, as well as diversity and inclusion.
  • The JEDI Fund successfully reached a financial threshold to become an endowed fund to continue to sustain support for our school’s JEDI initiatives into the future.
  • UB SON issued a formal statement condemning violence against Asian Americans (released April 21, 2022).
  • Staff and faculty were encouraged to include pronouns in their zoom name and their email signatures.
  • JEDI worked with facilities to change the two single-use, gender-specific bathrooms into gender-neutral restrooms.
  • UB SON participated in the Safe Learning and Research initiatives supported by a grant to the Jacob’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. As part of this program, students, faculty and staff are invited annually to participate in a voluntary online training about our school’s efforts to promote a safe and inclusive research and learning environment. A new Safe Learning and Research page was created, featuring UB’s policies to address and reduce discrimination and harassment in our learning and research communities, including a link to the EthicsPoint Reporting System. 


Mentorship Subcommittee

The JEDI committee has continued our partnership with SON alumni and professional nurses from our local community to provide mentorship opportunities for our Black, upper-division, undergraduate nursing students. With the support of the local chapter of Chi Eta Phi, lota Eta Eta Chapter, we expanded our mentoring team to provide professional mentoring to more students. Students and mentors committed to a 1-year mentoring relationship. The JEDI section of the SON website now includes a potential mentor form and student mentee form.

Curriculum Subcommittee

Assistant deans are reviewing and revising their program and course objectives and learning content to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary skills to effectively care for diverse patients. These efforts align with the new AACN initiatives. 

Ad-hoc Committee on Violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Violence against AAPI individuals across our nation intensified throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and compelled the formation of a JEDI ad-hoc committee to consider how SON could best support our diverse communities. This summer 2021 ad-hoc committee consisted of volunteer faculty, staff and students who organized a learning session held on Sept. 27, 2021 (Dealing with Microaggressions Toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in Health Care Related to COVID-19). 

Speaker Engagements

JEDI hosted five speakers during the past year. A total of 356 registered for and 277 attended these events, including SON students, staff, faculty, and alumni. (Those available for public viewing are linked below.)

Civility Training (Feb. 26, 2021)

Creating a Culture of Civility in the Workplace, conducted by Chermale Casem, MBA, BS, was an interactive workshop providing foundational information to aid participants in (1) defining civility and incivility; (2) identifying different types of disruptive workplace behaviors; and (3) exploring strategies to enhance civility and encourage a healthy and productive work atmosphere.

Rev. George F. Nicholas, MDIV, shared the history of the African American Health Equity Task Force and Buffalo Center for Health Equity community partnership and the novel strategies they used to respond to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the African American, Latinx and other communities of color in Buffalo. Also discussed: the impact of social determinants of health on outcomes among African Americans in these communities.

Led by Rebecca Rotundo (UB, Assistant Director of Learning Spaces) and Michelle Connolly (UB, Learning Designer, Center for Educational Innovation), this conversation addressed why it is important to create inclusive learning environments and how we can reduce the invisible barriers to learning that often exist outside the classroom.

Attendees learned about microaggressions, how they manifest in health care settings, unique COVID-19 related stressors that exacerbate the negative impact of microaggressions on nurses and other health care workers, and strategies that nurses can utilize to manage those stressors. Microaggressions specific to the experiences of AAPI nurses and health care providers were discussed, including the historical context in which these microaggressions emerged. Facilitators Crystal Han, MD, and Angeline Pham, MD, are psychiatry residents from the University of Maryland/Sheppard Pratt. 

Signey Olson, CNM, WHNP-BC, faculty in Georgetown University’s Midwifery and NP Program, provided guidance to increase faculty and staff confidence in the support of LGBTQ+ students and colleagues. Topics covered: (1) how to navigate evolving language, including what to do if you make a mistake and how to get over the fear of saying the wrong thing, (2) ways to strengthen institutional policies to advocate for and protect LBGTQ+ students, and (3) unique needs that LGBTQ+ students may have in the academic environment 


Resource Sharing

JEDI e-newsletters were distributed to faculty, staff and student listservs on a weekly (Spring 2021) and bi-weekly (Fall 2021) basis to alert our community about upcoming events (both internal and external); training opportunities; and links to articles, videos, books and websites related to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. 


The JEDI section of the SON website is routinely updated to highlight JEDI events, news, resources and new and ongoing initiatives. New pages were created to help recruit mentors and collect mentee profiles. Plans are underway to expand content, informed by current year mentoring program outcomes. 

Display Case (114 Wende Hall)

The JEDI case continued to feature the content prepared last year, given the low numbers of individuals populating the building during the height of the pandemic. New content featuring diverse strategies for nurses to manage stress related to COVID-19 will be featured in Spring 2022. 

Student Services/Academic Advising

Student Services continues to survey students regarding their satisfaction with advising to inform continuous improvement, and they have re-engaged with the University at Buffalo Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) – which empowers undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue STEM and health-related careers – for cross-collaboration. They have also adjusted the admissions process to guarantee Daniel Ackers Scholars admission to the Traditional BS program for those who satisfy a range of related admissions requirements. 

Plans for 2022

The SON JEDI Committee is committed to maintaining momentum to fulfill our mission of fostering an environment that supports all individuals and values diversity, inclusion and equity. These elements are fundamental to our core values of integrity, collaboration, accountability, respect for diverse backgrounds and opinions, and excellence.

For the coming year, we will continue to offer new and exciting programming to our SON community. Suggestions are always welcome! Contact our committee at; the chair, Amy Hequembourg; or co-chair, Jana L. Blaha.

Have a healthy and productive Spring 2022 semester and we hope to see you at upcoming events in SON and across the university. 

Thank you from the 2021-2022 Academic Year JEDI Committee, 

Amy Hequembourg, Chair
Jana Blaha, Co-Chair
Meg Doerzbacher (Graduate Student Representative)
Sarah Goldthrite
Linda Paine Hughes
Chin-Shang Li
Molli Oldenberg
Arielle Samuels (Undergraduate Student Representative)
Tania Von Visger (interim member)
Elizabeth Wynne
Hiu Ying (Herby) Cheung-Mayes (Staff Support)

Published February 2, 2022

Questions or comments?

Contact the committee at