Dimock Center president delivers message of diversity, cultural leadership at UMass Boston
Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, president and CEO of the Roxbury community health provider Dimock Center, delivered a convocation address around the themes of diversity, equality, and leadership at UMass Boston on Thursday.
“Leadership in a diverse world is complicated,” Jordan said. “I believe that in order for each of us to create clear pathways to success, we cannot do it alone. We must reach across to those who may not look like us or share our beliefs or cultural traits and find common ground. We must hold on to the belief that people want what is just, that we all want to better ourselves in our understanding of the world, that we all want a future that is ripe with potential for the next generation.
“Even as we expose our faults, our fears, our misconceptions, we open up a door previously closed to communication, communication about systemic racism, gender bias, and equal pay for women. These conversations are challenging and sometimes uncomfortable, yet they are necessary, and they propel us to act and to change.”
The Dimock Center, the largest employer in Roxbury and the second-largest health center in Boston, is considered a national model of comprehensive health and human services, with more than 17,000 people served each year.
Jordan, who joined Dimock as chief medical officer in 2007, was responsible for the successful transition to the Electronic Medical Records system, the establishment of Dimock’s first Institutional Review Board, and securing a $4.9 million federal grant from the Health Resource Services Administration to expand and transform the health center facility into a medical home.
Jordan talked to UMass Boston students about the lessons she’s learned during her medical career. She said she has learned as much from her patients as she did from her professors.
“I learned from my patients about their lives and the personal experiences that shaped their disease or illness. I learned that chronic disease is not simply a clinical diagnosis, but an experience very often based on one’s ability to understand what it means to have the disease, coupled with the struggle to afford medications or afford food,” Jordan said. “I learned that the context of my patients’ lives is just as important as the disease or illness that I was treating. In fact, they were inseparable.”
She also got an early reminder that the professional world isn’t always equitable. After graduating from the Brown University School of Medicine, Jordan was hired to run a new medical consultation service. She later learned a male colleague in a similar position was making more money.
“[I learned to] do my homework when evaluating opportunities, understand the value of the work that I did for the institution and understand what the organization also values, as well as pay attention to gender equality,” Jordan said.
Jordan’s medical degree didn’t prepare her for the business side of health care, so she later returned to school to get an MBA from the Johns Hopkins University Carey School of Business. Then Dimock came calling.
“Life does not always do what you intend it to do. Sometimes choices are presented to you that deviate from the path that you’ve laid out for yourself, and you have to be brave enough to check them out,” Jordan said.
“We have to constantly ask ourselves: Have we found, or how do we find, the position, the career that resonates with who we are, with our values, and our sense of purpose? For many of you, your time at UMass Boston is just starting. You do not need to feel like you have to find your purpose right away. In fact, you need the upcoming years to grow, to expand your thinking, to be open to new possibilities, and the incredible staff here at UMass Boston will help you find that guiding inner purpose.”