About The Diversity Council


1. Purpose

The Diversity Council advances the objectives of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) by facilitating an inclusive work environment which embraces the diversity of its staff and programs, encourages an atmosphere of mutual respect, and enhances awareness of issues related to health equity. The Council is committed to strengthening efforts at MDPH to retain and recruit a diverse workforce in order to better serve the public health needs of the Commonwealth residents.

This charter describes the duties and responsibilities of the Diversity Council, the organization of its membership, and its operating procedures.

2. Background

In 1999, the Diversity Council was established to serve as a working advisory body to the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The Council acts as a forum to support and advance diversity within the Department. Since its inception, the work of the Council has successfully led to the:

  • creation of a diversity webpage;
  • training of over 300 senior managers and supervisors in diversity awareness; and
  • inclusion of Council-related information in an enhanced orientation for all new employees.

The Council intends for its efforts--to increase understanding of diversity and appreciation of differences within the Department--to assist in the delivery of informed and appropriate health services for all residents of the Commonwealth. Moreover, the Council hopes that its work will contribute to the reduction of racial and ethnic health disparities in the State.

3. Responsibilities

The following are the responsibilities of the Diversity Council:

  • Review MDPH's programs, policies, and initiatives as they relate to internal diversity management and make periodic recommendations for updates, improvements, or other modifications
  • Assist in the creation of a work environment that reflects the mosaic of the communities MDPH serves by engaging in recruitment, retention, and promotion efforts
  • Serve as a communication channel through which MDPH employees can express general feedback related to diversity
  • Develop collaborative partnerships with MDPH divisions, community organizations, and other Massachusetts state departments that work on issues related to diversity or health equity
  • Design and implement events, informational sessions, and trainings that promote acceptance and improve staff understanding of cultural characteristics and differences
  • Educate MDPH employees on the health outcomes of various groups, and specifically highlight data relating to health disparities

The Diversity Council will provide an annual report of its activities and recommendations to the Commissioner.

4. Site-Based Councils

The Council encourages efforts within the DPH hospitals, state laboratory, regional health offices and other DPH locations that further the Council's mission. These efforts include, but are not limited to, the formation of site-based groups of employees convened to provide activities and information that promote an understanding of diversity and appreciation for differences. These groups would have no special standing with the Diversity Council but would serve to communicate and reinforce diversity messages at the site.

5. Diversity Council Contacts

John Auerbach, Commissioner
Phone: (617) 624-5200

Georgia Simpson May, Director, Office of Health Equity
Phone: (617) 624-5590

Paula Tessier, Chair
Phone: (617) 624-5285

Cyndi Clemons, Vice-Chair
Phone: (617) 624-5319

Carly Foster, Vice-Chair
Phone: (617) 994-9828

Cassie Eckhof, Secretary
Phone: (617) 624-5219

6. Additional Resources

This information is provided by the Department of Public Health.