UMass Chan Medical School creates affinity groups to support professors and staff of color

In its efforts to create intentional spaces to support faculty and staff of color at UMass Chan School of Medicine, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (DIO) has formed two affinity groups. The Colorful Voices Network is a DIO and employee-led community established to provide a forum for employees to develop their skills, network and support key initiatives in diversity, equity and inclusion. AALANA, which represents the African American, Latin American, Asian and Native American peoples, seeks to support and advance the Faculty of Color through collaboration, celebration and knowledge.

Colorful Voices met for the first time on Monday, September 27. Guest speaker Shane Lloyd, Leader of Inclusion and Engagement at Amazon, spoke about the impact of racism in the workplace. Lloyd led an exercise in which participants were asked to define or share buzzwords around the words diversity, equity and inclusion. Through this exercise, the group discovered that the individual definitions of these words were paradoxes. While participants defined the terms with nuance, which Lloyd noted as a good thing, he reminded participants, “When it comes to organizational identity, it is important for an organization to define definitions. common so we can all talk to each other instead. from one to the other. The development of a common definition of these terms gives everyone a point of shared leverage.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is in the process of creating definitions of these terms to shape the new initiatives.

Marlina Duncan, EdD

Although institutions recognize the existence of racial disparities, disconnections arise if they cannot be identified in their own context. Lloyd called on group participants to raise awareness of disparities, practice covenanting for one another, dismantle the systems that support them, and engage in social change.

AALANA, which was introduced to faculty last year, met on Tuesday, September 28, with an in-depth discussion of community and professional development events.

Marlina Duncan, EdD, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, called these groups “vital for building community among faculty and staff.” Affinity groups are open to anyone who wishes to foster better relationships with their colleagues in medical school. Groups meet every two months with virtual meeting dates announced in DIO UPNext newsletters.

To learn more about Affinity Groups, email DIO at

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