ALUMNI NEWS | DFMCH Creates the Josie Robinson Johnson Endowed Chair in Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
January 4, 2021
The year 2020 has been one of profound social unrest, leading to a call for real, manifested change. Over the past year, the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) has taken steps toward actualizing positive changes in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, known informally as JEDI in the department.
One of the biggest steps occurred in October 2020, when DFMCH leadership created the Josie Robinson Johnson Endowed Chair in Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion—paying tribute to Josie Robinson Johnson, EdD, an esteemed civil rights activist and community leader. The endowed chair provides a sustainable investment in advancing family medicine's mission to promote justice and inclusion through the equitable provision of health and care to our diverse community of patients and families.
The decision to name the chair for Dr. Johnson came easily. She has devoted her life's work to promoting equality and inclusion while fighting for access to education, housing, and employment. She was also the first African American to serve on the University's Board of Regents and led the University's minority affairs and diversity efforts. Dr. Johnson has made an indelible impression on Minnesota and the entire nation. Her work, underscored by grace, courage and fierce dedication, has had a profound impact on countless lives.
Selecting the inaugural chair holder also proved to be a natural decision. Assistant professor Andrea Westby, MD, a widely respected member of the community and fierce warrior for justice herself, had been named director for equity, diversity and inclusion just a few months prior.
To celebrate the news, the DFMCH hosted a virtual gathering in honor of Dr. Josie Robinson Johnson and the creation of the new endowed chair. Attendees included Dr. Johnson, three of her daughters, Dr. Westby, and former department head Dr. Mac Baird (who was also recently honored with the eponymous Mac Baird Endowed Chair in Family Medicine Advocacy and Policy).
"Black people have been forced over centuries to have care that is not adequate, nor sincere, nor dedicated," said Dr. Johnson. "I believe the University of Minnesota is making a strong move in avoiding that kind of direction in our medical and community health efforts. I want to thank the university for that commitment."