Dr. Cheryl Holder has been appointed Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity and Community Initiatives (ODEICI) at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) at Florida International University (FIU). Jamaican-born, Dr. Holder has dedicated her career to the service of vulnerable populations and is a board-certified internist and HIV specialist. She was one of the first doctors to note how the effects of COVID-19 fell disproportionately on the African American community, pointing out the lack of testing opportunities in Black neighborhoods.
According to Dr. Robert Sackstein, the dean and senior vice president for health affairs at HWCOM, Dr. Holder’s new role will place her at the head of HWCOM’s efforts to create new pipeline programs and advocacy measures relating to inclusivity and social justice in all HWCOM operations. Dr. Holder has been serving as interim dean since 2020 while FIU conducted a national search for a permanent dean.
In addition to her academic and clinical positions, Dr. Holder is president of the Florida State Medical Association, a regional unit of the National Medical Association, which is the biggest and oldest organization representing African American doctors and patients in the US. She is also the co-chair of Florida Clinicians for Climate Action.
The ODEICI program will expand to include a coordinator for the development of biomedical sciences careers. Andrea Raymond, an HWCOM researcher, has been named to fill this new position. She currently serves as an associate professor in the Immunology and Nano-Medicine Department and is well known for her research in HIV pathogenesis. She also has extensive experience as a mentor and trainer of biomedical scientists.
Sackstein said that Dr. Holder and Dr. Raymond will together move the commitment of the College of Medicine and FIU unwaveringly toward diversity and equity.
HWCOM was ranked Number 3 on the list of most diverse medical schools in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. The school was also honored by the Alpha Omega Honor Medical Society in 2020 with the organization’s Award for Excellence in Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Medical Education and Patient Care.
Dr. Holder said she was excited to continue her mission of ensuring that vulnerable communities received the kind of care they need to attain optimal health status from a “diverse and caring workforce.”
Photo: Florida International University (FIU)