The University of Minnesota Department of Neurosurgery recognizes diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) work as a constantly dynamic, iterative process that will continuously evolve in response to the current context and any emerging issues. Major social and political changes over the past decades have led to a large number of organizations taking steps to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. Furthermore, there has been a growing appreciation for the relevance of individuals and committees that dedicate efforts in this direction and therefore, the impulse from the Department of Neurosurgery to focus efforts on DEI initiatives began as a response to these circumstances.

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Our DEI Charter

We recognize that our mission and work environment are stronger when there is a diverse and inclusive community. Several studies have shown improved engagement, enhanced communication, increased productivity, and better workforce retention in such environments. Particularly for the case of health care, diversity improves patient care through more effective communication, increased patient adherence, improved patient satisfaction, and an overall better patient experience. From our curriculum to our recruitment strategies, access to leadership positions and daily work in clinical, administrative or research settings, there are several areas to examine what we do and commit to improving how we do it. Our DEI Charter will define priorities, report relationships, and devise the steering actions that will guide our future efforts.

Our Team

Theresa Anderson

Terri Anderson, LPN

I started as a Neurosurgery LPN at University of Minnesota Physicians in November 2017.





David Darrow

David Darrow, MD, MPH

I am a functional neurosurgeon in the Department of Neurosurgery. I have been here since 2013 as a resident and 2020 as a faculty member. I work on trying to find treatments for functional diseases of the central nervous system such as movement disorders, pain, epilepsy, and psychiatric disease.




Rajiv Dharnipragada

Rajiv Dharnipragada

I am a second-year medical student and have been doing research with the Neurosurgery Department for five years.





Nicole Falk

I've been an Executive Assistant in the Department of Neurosurgery for nearly three years and have worked at the U for more than seven. I graduated from the U with a bachelor's degree in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology. Unfortunately, there aren't jobs in classical archaeology here in the great state of Minnesota! I like to spend time traveling the world and experiencing new things with my husband, Ben, and my Aussie, Rose.


Emily Fellows

Emily Fellows

I am a third-year medical student at the University of Minnesota, who is interested in pursuing a neurosurgical career rooted in advocacy. To date, I have evaluated racial health disparities in the treatment of central nervous system tumors and in the future, will evaluate racial health disparities in the treatment and evaluation of patients with facial pain. Outside of research, I have created a volunteer program in coordination with a local nonprofit organization that provides free medical education to the adult immigrant and refugee community in Minneapolis. A personal passion of mine is supporting and empowering women in surgery.


Carolina Sandoval Garcia

Carolina Sandoval García, MD

I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and moved to the US to pursue Neurological Surgery residency training and later completed a fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery. I have been with the University of Minnesota since 2019 when I joined as an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery. I currently am also part of the residency leadership as Assistant Residency Program Director and participate in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts as the department's first DEI leader.


Daniel Guillaume, MD

Daniel Guillaume, MD, MS

I am a professor and neurosurgeon in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota and have been affiliated with the department and University since 2012. Some of my other roles include Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs, Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and Co-chief of the M Health Fairview Neuroscience Service Line.



Sally Sawyer

Sally Sawyer

Effective February 2021, I joined the Department as the Administrative Services Supervisor and Executive Assistant to Department Head Dr. Clark Chen. My prior experience includes multiple years working at the University of Minnesota Medical School.



Birra Taha

Birra Taha, MD

I am currently a PGY-2 resident in the Department of Neurosurgery. I'm looking forward to helping create initiatives that provide a more inclusive environment at the U of M.

DEI Grand Rounds Recordings

State of the Science for Health Equity Research, presented by Michelle Allen, MD, MS, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, March 29, 2024.

Federal Indian Policy on Health Care, presented by Regent Tadd Johnson, University of Minnesota Board of Regents, Senior advisor for government affairs for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians, and Professor Emeritus of the Department of American Indian Studies, University of Minnesota, Duluth, November 17, 2023

Bystander Interventions Training, presented by Shanea Turner-Smith, MSW, LGSW, and Matt Amundson, MEd, Learning and Development Managers, U of M Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, May 19, 2023

DEI Town Hall: Neurosurgery Department DEI Efforts and Opportunities, hosted by Dr. Carolina Sandoval Garcia, Assistant Professor and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leader, University of Minnesota Neurosurgery Department, February 24, 2023

U of M Academic Health Center and the Indian Connection, Dr. Kumar Belani, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Minnesota Medical School, November 18, 2022

Centering on the Margins: Improving Healthcare for LGBTQ Patients, Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd, Chief Education Officer, Chief of Staff, pediatrician in the Children's Minneapolis primary care clinic and medical director of Children's Gender Health Program, August 26, 2022.

The Pitfalls of the Model Minority Myth, Dr. Yung-Yi Diana Pan, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology Brooklyn College - City University of New York, May 20, 2022

The Impact of Crowd Control Weapons on Public Health & Safety, Dr. David Darrow, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, and Erika Kaske, third-year medical student, University of Minnesota, February 25, 2022.

Some thoughts on burnout, professional identity and surviving in our modern healthcare system, Dr. Meghan Rothenberger, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the U of M, November 19, 2021.

Reimagining Professionalism, Dr. Taj Mustapha, Division of Internal Medicine, Director of Clinical Coaching for the Medical School, August 27, 2021.

Cultural Competency Training, Dr. Shailey Prasad, Executive Director, U of M Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, February 26, 2021.