Diversity In Depth

About Us

The UAB Medicine Office of Diversity and Inclusion provides strategic leadership for creating an inclusive organizational culture for patients, caregivers, business partners, and the communities we serve. Our initiatives focus on workforce demographics, education, pipeline development, and cultural competence, all of which are designed to support the diversity of our caregivers, increase acceptance of differences, and promote new ways of adapting to each other. We strive to identify and address structural barriers that limit opportunity and access to services.

We are committed to creating an environment where every caregiver has the opportunity and support to achieve their full potential, while focusing on our mission to improve the health and lives of those we serve. As we go about our work, we continually keep in mind that culture change is a process. Through our Diversity Council and Employee Resource Groups, we honor the diversity that makes UAB Medicine special.


Meet the Team

André Lessears, MBA – Chief Diversity Officer

André Lessears was named chief diversity and inclusion officer for UAB Medicine in early 2021. He leads a strategy of inclusive leadership to foster a sense of belonging, dignity, and respect among the health system’s patients and caregivers. He has more than 15 years of experience in implementing diversity and inclusion strategies at Cleveland Clinic Akron General, the city of Dubuque, Iowa, and Midwestern State University in Texas.

Prior to joining UAB Medicine, Lessears directed the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for Cleveland Clinic Akron General, where he oversaw strategic initiatives that enabled the hospital to deliver care world-class care that was also culturally competent. During his tenure, he led a team that identified barriers to care for adults with developmental disabilities, which resulted in Cleveland Clinic Akron General being designated as one of the first Autism-Friendly Hospitals in the country. At UAB Medicine, Lessears chairs the UAB Health System Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Council and serves as a member of both the UAB Equity Leadership Council and the UAB School of Medicine Diversity Council.

In 2021, the National Diversity Council named Lessears as one of the country’s Top 100 Diversity Officers, as part of an awards program for its annual Diversity & Leadership Conference. A skilled trainer and facilitator, Lessears has been honored for his work facilitating critical conversations on intercultural communication, unconscious bias, building inclusive teams, and effective diversity and inclusion recruitment and retention strategies. He has been recognized by the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials and was named a Rising Star by the Tri-State Business Times.

During his career, Lessears helped design practices and programs that have been recognized by the National League of Cities, DiversityInc, the Association of ERGs and Councils, and Black Pages International. He has led panels or delivered keynote addresses for the Ohio NAACP Conference, the Ohio Diversity and Leadership Conference, the Black Male Summit, the National Urban League Young Professionals, and the Civic Leadership Institute.

A graduate of Walsh University in Ohio, Lessears earned his MBA from the University of Dubuque. He holds a Certified Diversity and Inclusion Professional designation from the Cornell University School of International Labor Relations and a Qualified Administrator designation from the Intercultural Development Inventory.

Suite 414, John N. Whitaker Building

500 22nd Street South

Birmingham, AL 35233

Email: alessears@uabmc.edu

(O) 205-975-3334

(C) 205-842-1689


Santwan Robinson – Program Coordinator II 

Santwan Robinson grew up in Birmingham, Ala., as the second of three children; she has an older sister, Tyesa, and a younger brother, Christopher. She is the mother of one son, who will start college in fall 2021.

Robinson graduated from West End High School and attended Jefferson State Community College for a year and half, with a planned emphasis in child psychology. When she isn’t in the Leadership Development Office, she enjoys attending poetry readings, playing pranks on family and friends, and watching silent movies. She has traveled throughout the states surrounding Alabama, but her dream is to one day buy an RV and travel all 50 states. Email Robinson at UABMedicineDiversityOffice@uabmc.edu.

Our Vision

UAB Medicine is committed to improving the health and lives of those we serve by providing care that is culturally competent and socially responsible. As we work toward this vision, we continually keep in mind that culture change is a process. It requires an intentional focus on our core values and mission to guide our efforts to create a world-class health system where our patients, employees, and students have a sense of belonging, dignity, and justice.

Our Mission

UAB Medicine’s mission is to deliver world-class patient care to the residents of Alabama and beyond, advance medical science through pioneering research, and train the sharpest medical minds. We are deeply committed to a patient- and family-centric approach to providing care, so we strive to make every patient encounter a positive one. This dedication to excellence is what makes UAB Medicine a preferred provider of care and helps us attract the best and brightest staff, while setting the highest standards for medical innovation and education.

Diversity Key Events and Initiatives

Diversity Conference

The Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion holds and annual conference dealing with pressing and relevant issues related to this topic. The 2020 conference was titled, “Crisis as Opportunity: New Paradigms for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

UAB Medicine Minority Employee Career Development Academy

While any employee can participate, the UAB Medicine Career Development Academy is designed to enhance the visibility and development for underrepresented minority employees at UAB Medicine. This is done, in part, through workshops and presentations designed to improve on interviewing skills, resume writing, leadership development, and much more. Participants who successfully complete the program will have one-on-one mentoring with a senior leader.

Health Science Academy

The Health Science Academy is our signature pipeline development program for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors and is designed to expose participants to health care careers at all levels. During the first year of the program, students participate in workshops covering various aspects of working in a health care environment. During year two, students shadow others in their specific areas of interest. The program culminates in an internship during their senior year of high school.

Employee Resource Groups

Selected applicants for the academies described above will participate in employee resource groups, or ERGs. ERGs work to raise awareness of the health care needs among our diverse patients by:

  • Providing community outreach and health information directly to diverse populations in our community.
  • Educating and training our employees to increase cultural competency.
  • Engaging our employees to “bring their whole selves” to work, which in turn allows them to offer the best possible care to our patients.

The employee resource groups at UAB Medicine include:

International Employee Resource Group

The goal of the International Employee Resource Group is to help foreign staff better understand the cultures of the United States and UAB by getting them involved. The group currently is focused on Chinese staff members, with a goal to expand to other international groups. It aims to share information among various departments, labs, and divisions while providing more collaboration opportunities. The group also seeks to build a communication bridge between foreign staff and UAB Medicine leadership teams.

Growth, Resources, & Outreach for Women (GROW) – The Women’s Employee Resource Group at UAB Medicine

GROW is committed to providing an employee resource group for female professionals that creates a safe venue for discussing and evaluating issues related to women in the workplace and implementing strategies to improve workplace satisfaction. It strives to help women grow and develop in their careers and personal lives by providing opportunities to become involved in activities that will strengthen them and others in the workplace. Its primary purpose is to implement leadership development through education, mentoring, and networking, so that women can take an even larger role in being positive, powerful change agents in the workplace. GROW meets monthly on the first Friday, between noon and 1 pm.

Young Professionals Affinity Group

The goal of the Young Professionals Affinity Group is to serve UAB Medicine’s young professionals, so that they see it as an organization where their purpose can be fulfilled and where they can happily remain for their entire career. The group is for professionals at any UAB entity who are looking for development opportunities and consider themselves to be early in their career or in their UAB career. There is no age limit for those interested in participating.

Retro Professional Employee Resource Group

The purpose of the Retro Professional Employee Resource Group is to provide a resource group for mature professionals who are part of the UAB Medicine workforce. As part of our Health System Diversity Program strategy, UAB Medicine is committed to enabling mature leaders to create a venue for discussing and implementing strategies to improve their workplace satisfaction. The Retro Professional group actively seeks to identify unique workplace needs among mature leaders and welcomes participation from all UAB Medicine departments.

Veteran, Active Military Friends and Family Resource Group

The Veteran, Active Military Friends and Family Resource Group provides support for UAB Medicine employees, faculty, patients, and loved ones. It is committed to supporting the specific needs of those affiliated with the military. The group offers assistance to both employees and patients related to health, education, and benefits resources; HR and employment resources; counseling resources; and social/community resources.

LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Advisory Group

UAB Medicine is committed to valuing diversity and inclusion through the equitable treatment of our patients, employees, and the community we serve. The LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Advisory Group was established to provide a forum for discussing and addressing issues related to the LGBTQ community and to offer meaningful solutions that are equitable and inclusive.

Disabilities Resource Group

The goal of the Disabilities Resource Group is to provide resources for employees with disabilities and employees who care for family or friends with disabilities. The group supports disability awareness activities that enhance the work environment and help employees with disabilities thrive. All