“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
ABOVE: Graduates: (L-R) Indira Cuero, Eghogho Etomi, Myeisha Hamilton-Moore, T’Hera Hassell, Michelle Thomas, Kaylah Valdry, Ugochi Ekeocha, Larissa Ellis
This legendary statement was made by the civil rights leader in Chicago on March 25, 1966, at the Medical Committee for Human Rights Convention [MCHR].
Understanding the impact of mentoring and pouring into the lives of her students, Dr. Sonnice Estill, an Assistant Professor in the Health Care Administration Department at Texas Southern University (TSU), has chosen to acknowledge the cultural significance and accomplishment of the graduating 2021 All Women Cohort with the Master of Science degree in Healthcare Administration from the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences at TSU.
‘Today’s political and social climate creates the perfect storm for empowerment and improvement,” said Dr. Estill. “Dismantling barriers to leadership and increasing visibility must be accompanied by adequate support, inclusive leadership, male champions/allies and collaborative culture.”
The 2021 All Women Cohort are: Indira Cuero, Eghogho Etomi, Myeisha Hamilton-Moore, T’Hera Hassell, Michelle Thomas, Kaylah Valdry, Ugochi Ekeocha and Larissa Ellis.
Both Larissa Ellis and Myeisha Hamilton-Moore have a heart to serve others, but also want to grow in the area of leadership and make an impact.
“I wanted to pursue a career in health care leadership to get an opportunity to provide services that would help improve the quality of life for individuals,” said Ellis. “My ultimate goal is to serve in a senior leadership capacity at a world-class health organization that serves a diverse population, and one that strives to improve health care services for the population served.”
As professional African American women, these graduates have an opportunity to exercise the desired traits of compassion, transparency, and the ability to foster teamwork in order to lead organizations into the next phase of modern healthcare.
“I have always been interested in healthcare and saw this field as a way to help those in my community by being able to be that bridge in between them and all the information they are being given regarding their health and being able to provide solutions to issues that arrive,” said Hamilton-Moore. “My ultimate goal is to be an integral part in the development and advancement of the communication process between patients and the healthcare systems they depend on.”
Women represent an overwhelming majority of the healthcare workforce, yet they are significantly minimal in numbers of leadership positions, particularly at the executive and board levels. Representation is even lower for African American women in healthcare leadership roles, where minorities are either underrepresented or unrepresented. The United Nations [UN] General Assembly unanimously voted to create a single UN body tasked with accelerating progress in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. A report by McKinsey & Company found that women of color account for barely 7 percent of minority women in vice president positions and 4 percent of those in senior executive leadership positions. In addition, a 2021 report by the Leverage Network showed only 3% of Black women sit on healthcare boards.
Recognizing representation as the functional foundation to drive change in healthcare, hospitals, health insurance companies and medical associations need African American women in leadership. These recent female graduates and healthcare administrators’ voices will add value to healthcare and improve the health of communities they will serve.
Dr. Estill is proud to have served as these future healthcare administrators’ Academic Advisor and Professor throughout their graduate studies at Texas Southern University. She is hopeful that the future momentum with which women gain access to the C-suite will accelerate as organizations embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion to improve health outcomes for all patients, specifically minority populations.