The truth is one never knows what's behind a door until you open it and check it out for yourself. Coming to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in 1989, I only knew that it was a very prestigious organization. I remember saying during my interview that "I would like to retire here." My idealism has not changed. What did happen was that I opened these great doors, peeled away the layers and found it was quite different than what I had anticipated. To put it frankly for example, I really expected to see more diversity in the employee and patient population. Instead I observed that it only seemed to exist in certain departments within the hospital and essentially non-existent at the management level. This revelation has always troubled me but I was far too busy my first few years to give it much more thought. Thus my concerns regarding diversity or the lack thereof lay dormant.
In the beginning of 1992, three years after walking through the great doors of MGH, the Director of my department appointed me to a newly formed task force whose charge was to create ideas for recruiting minority individuals into management positions. The hospital acknowledged its vulnerability and was asking for help. I was honored that I was chosen and appointed to such a hospital wide endeavor. Then it occurred to me, who else could be so honored since I was the only one of color in my department? Nonetheless, I still felt honored and was determined to make the best of it.
The first meeting of the "Minority Recruitment Task Force" as it was called back then was February 25, 1992. There were approximately fifteen of "us." So here we all were, and there at the head of table, convening the meeting, sat a well-meaning nurse who happened to be the only person not of color in the room. She wanted us to talk about why we thought it was difficult to recruit professional people of color to the MGH. She wanted the truth but people did not feel comfortable talking about it to a management person who happened to be white. Nonetheless, over a short period of time, we overcame our fear and shared our stories. We also managed to come up with a proposal for a minority administrative internship program which was inspired by the hospital's administrative fellow program. Our program proposal was primarily designed to help minorities already employed by the hospital develop and advance into better management positions.
Our proposal was created, typed up and packaged to take to the hospital Administration for adoption. As we anxiously awaited the decision we continued to meet and get to know each other more. It was obvious from our task force chair that our job had been done and we were just waiting for an answer. After some time it was reported back to us that Administration was unable to act on the proposal because it involved money and the hospital was going through a financial crisis at the time.
A Task Force is exactly what it denotes: A group of people brought together to work on a particular issue. We assumed since our task was done, the task force would be disbanded. Not so fast! During what was supposed to be our last meeting, we decided as a group we were going to appoint ourselves as a committee. The gavel was passed to me right in the middle of the meeting. Not knowing that this was going to happen, I had to come up with something quick to finish the meeting. The first item of business we discussed as a committee was to change our name to reflect that we were now a committee. As of August 1993, we were no longer known as the Minority Recruitment Task Force; we were and proudly called the Alliance of MGH Minority Professionals, or AMMP. When I think back, we truly had a lot of nerve.
I was appointed the first official chair in August 1993, and served until December 1995. Nathan Lee was appointed Vice-Chair; however left MGH before serving out his term. When I think back over the years, I never thought that AMMP would grow to be such a powerful committee within the MGH community. I feel truly honored that I belonged to the original group of folks to form AMMP.
Although since that time the name has changed to the Association of Multicultural Members of Partners, the acronym remains the same, AMMP. The sound of it has always made me think of something moving onward and upward. You may wonder what if AMMP grows nationally. You say eventually the acronym will need to change. Think again, maybe it can be called the…Association of Multicultural Members of the Planet. Okay, a little out there I know but why not dream big? I never imagined I would be attending a ceremony where it was announced officially that the Brigham and Women's Hospital was starting its very own AMMP chapter!
The first ever Chair of AMMP and a leader in diversity issues at MGH, Pamela Burton is currently Business Director for MGH Social Services. Pam will forever be remembered for her extraordinary insight and leadership. Her influence continues to be reflected today in diversity and multicultural initiatives around the hospital.
During his tenure as AMMP Chair, Darnell Williams, Manager of Management Recruitment & Development at the MGH, created an environment for AMMP members to broaden their perspective in understanding the importance of networking opportunities, skill development, and relationship building within the MGH. Always a hard worker and caring colleague, his professionalism recreated the organization's image. Darnell has since left the MGH to become the President and CEO of the Urban League of Massachusetts.
Ronald Greene, BSN, RN
Charismatic Ronald Greene, BSN, RN, a 30+ year veteran of the MGH, marked his administration as Chair with a focus on educating the hospital community about the organization, and making sure that every MGHer felt welcome in AMMP. Ronald is currently a Primary Based Case Manager in the Clinical Care Management Unit.
Along with her many duties as former Chair of the Nominating Committee, Vice Chair of the Public Relations Committee and AMMP Chairperson until her term ended in 2004, Loretta was instrumental in bringing identifiable projects to fruition - AMMP website, AMMP logo, increase in membership, and increased visibility for the organization through external contacts, who were guest speakers. She was named member of the year in 2001 and currently works in the Department of Orthopaedic. Her commitment to AMMP will not go unnoticed.
Acting Chairs stepping in to help out
Denella Clark, who worked in MGH Human Resources, served AMMP as Chair for a time before she was offered the position of Director of Corporate Relations and Special Events at the Dimock Community Health Center. While Denella has moved on, her enthusiasm and dedication to the organization's goals lives on.
Stepping in to act as Chair upon Denella's departure, Grace Elson brought wisdom and elegance to her leadership of AMMP. Grace, a former Administrative Fellow at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and directed the initiation of the Faces of MGH project.
In addition to excelling in a multifaceted role as an MGH Development Officer and serving as AMMP Vice Chair, Mary Chambers didn't hesitate to step up and take over the role of Acting Chair until an election for a permanent chair could be held. AMMP members are grateful that good-natured and team-oriented Mary remains active with the organization.
-MGH Minority Recruitment Task Force convenes.
-Barbara Holland becomes MGH's first Director of Diversity.
-Minority Recruitment Task Force renamed The Alliance of MGH Minority Professionals (AMMP).
-Pamela Burton elected first Chair of AMMP.
-AMMP collaborates in MGH and citywide career development events.
-AMMP helps create the National Association of Health Service Executives.
-An event honoring AMMP draws 250 people to Boston's Bay Tower Room.
-AMMP collaborates in MGH's first Diversity Job Fair.
-Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and consultant to NBC sitcoms "The Cosby Show" and "A Different World," puts AMMP's speaker series on the map.
-The first AMMP scholarships are awarded to enhance support for Career Development.
-Brigham and Women's Hospital proudly announces the establishment of its own chapter of AMMP.
-Former Boston Globe columnist Patricia Smith highlights AMMP speaker series.
-Dr. Anne Beal, MGH pediatrician and author who has appeared on NBC's "Today Show" and Lifetime television and in Essence magazine, speaks to the AMMP membership.
-AMMP collaborates with Partners Employee Programs to inaugurate system-wide ceremonies honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and featuring celebrities such as professional basketball great Bill Russell.
-AMMP collaborates in MGH's first Latino Heritage Month.
-AMMP inaugurates its Excellence Awards program recognizing hospital leaders.