In the passing weeks, I have heard from many of you expressing urgent concerns about systemic racism in our society. I have heard your calls for a change in America, our informatics community, and our health care system. AMIA shares your concerns and your sense of urgency. We agree we can do better.
Systemic racism and health equity specifically are a new area of focus for AMIA.
When it comes to informatics science and practice there is a natural intersection with informatics and health disparities – it is the research and practice of investigating the data to inform knowledge that allows for the identification and tracking of disparities in health and healthcare. The impact of health disparities spans the five domains of informatics: translational bioinformatics, clinical research, consumer, clinical and public health.
The AMIA Board has unanimously approved the creation of the AMIA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force to advise AMIA on specific, actionable steps to further address matters of racial diversity, equity and inclusion. The 2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan will be completed by the end of 2020, and while it will include a continued commitment to growing AMIA as a diverse and inclusive community, the need for the DEI Task Force to advise the Strategic Planning Task Force is of critical importance.
The AMIA DEI Task Force will be led by AMIA Board Member Tiffani Bright, PhD, and will be comprised of approximately 7-10 AMIA members. The DEI Task Force work will engage members throughout the 12-month term, and will be expected to report monthly to the AMIA Executive Committee and the AMIA Board of Directors.
In addition to providing guidance on the upcoming Strategic Plan, some of the immediate charges of the task force are:
- Strengthen pipeline of self-nominated leaders for 2020 election nominations due June 30, 2020;
- Determine course of action for implementing ongoing leader education on diversity, equity and inclusion, especially for the Board of Directors and new leaders taking office in January 2021;
- Create a set of DEI principles and tools (i.e. exploratory questions) to guide AMIA elected and volunteer leaders toward more diversity, equity and inclusion when composing committees, calling volunteers, selecting volunteers, evaluating speakers, and engaging members;
- Develop a presence for activities and/or presented content at the AMIA 2020 Annual Symposium;
- Conduct environmental scan and report of DEI activities in similar associations and societies for future task force/committee review;
- Make recommendations for activities and/or presented content for future upcoming AMIA meetings.
Increasing our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion are key to ensuring future success for both AMIA and the informatics field.
One of the first responsibilities of the task force is to hold member listening sessions. Continuing the transformation of our professional organization to reflect society and the communities we serve enables members and the broader informatics workforce to influence and lead the transformation of healthcare. It is imperative that we hear from you during these listening sessions as we continue our path forward.
Our path will require courage; it will require us to recognize our failures as well as our successes. We recognize this will be difficult, but addressing these issues is vital to the success of AMIA. As we go forth, we will create safe spaces for awareness of self and others, honesty, humility, and the skill to both push and support one another.
Thank you for the suggestions and concerns that you have shared with me over the past few weeks. AMIA is your professional home, and I am hopeful this initiative will make you proud to be a member of this organization.
This is a member initiative and we will not be successful without thorough representation. We need your help. If you want to engage with the task force’s work in diversity, equity and inclusion or systemic racism and health equity send a personal note of interest to Tiffani Bright, firstname.lastname@example.org.