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Diversity & Inclusion at KCVA

Kansas City VA Medical Center is committed to an inclusive culture where diversity is highly valued, and equity and access are considered essential in all aspects of healthcare and employment. KCVA is the first VA Medical Center to establish Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) as a service line, with a focus on championing a culture of respect, inclusion, and belonging that values every individual.

Diversity arises from an appreciation of the wide range of inherent and chosen identities of our veterans and employees, with each person having distinct backgrounds and experiences. In evidencing this commitment, we welcome all individuals without exclusion based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, sex, gender identity or expression, affectional or sexual orientation, pregnancy and parenting status, age, disability, presence or absence of religion or faith beliefs, family medical history or inherited genetic traits, marital status, political affiliation, social and cultural perspectives, economic status, veteran or military status, language or characteristics of speech, immigration status, prior criminal history, or any other aspect of a person’s identity.

Inclusion surpasses simply welcoming individuals with diverse identities, backgrounds, and experiences. Rather, we promote and support an inclusive culture by balancing a strong desire for our veterans and employees to be their authentic selves with the need to ensure an environment where integrity and respect are afforded to every individual, resulting in an organization where all persons feel valued and experience a sense of belonging.

Equity recognizes that differences among individuals often necessitate the provision of varied levels of support to address the specific needs of underserved, underrepresented, marginalized, and historically excluded communities with the goal being to achieve equality in healthcare and employment.

Access refers to efforts undertaken by KCVA in identifying, analyzing, mitigating, and eliminating systemic barriers that deter or prevent individuals belonging to underserved, underrepresented, marginalized, or historically excluded communities from utilizing services or availing themselves of opportunities provided by our organization, promoting a just culture for all.

At KCVA, we are committed to:

  • Providing personalized, patient-driven, compassionate, state-of-the-art care to a diverse veteran population, ensuring an environment where all are treated with dignity, compassion, and respect as individuals.
  • Building and maintaining a diverse, engaged, and empowered workforce drawn from all segments of American society.
  • Recognizing and working to redress inequities in policies and programs that serve as barriers to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access for veterans and employees.
  • Inspiring and supporting an inclusive workplace that enables all employees to feel uniquely valued and enjoy a sense of belonging, ensuring all are encouraged to contribute their expertise, experience, talents, ideas, and perspectives.

2020 Human Rights Campaign LGBTQ Healthcare Equity Top Performer
In its 13th year, the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) is the national LGBTQ benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities' policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. The HEI 2020 evaluates more than 1,700 healthcare facilities nationwide.

David Isaacks, KCVA’s Former Medical Center Director, awarded the 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award from the Secretary of VA for his commitment to D&I while at the KCVA
The criteria for selection in furthering the goals of diversity and inclusion are based on individuals’ and teams’ demonstrated efforts in growing a diverse, high-performing workforce that reflects all segments of our society and values all aspects of our human diversity; cultivating an inclusive work environment and creating an engaged organization that leverages diversity and empowers all contributors; and facilitating outstanding, responsive public service.

KCVA establishes Diversity & Inclusion as a service of the Medical Center and hires Dr. Sybil Wyatt, first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
In recent years, KCVA has focused on expanding its efforts in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and in early 2020, the facility began the next step in its approach by initiating the process to hire a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO). At the time, no other VA Medical Center employed a full-time CDIO, thus necessitating the creation of a novel position.

In alignment with our commitment to advancing diversity, inclusion, equity, and access, the KCVA has a number of current and future initiatives meant to support our diverse veteran and employee populations. Featured below are just a few of those initiatives.

Special Emphasis Programs
The KCVA Special Emphasis Programs (SEPs) seek to address the unique concerns of specific groups in achieving our goal of ensuring equity and inclusion in recruitment, hiring, development, training, and advancement of the KCVA's workforce. The SEPs are typically managed by staff who identify within the represented population or are allies to these populations. The KCVA currently supports SEPs for eleven populations: Veterans, LGBTQ+, Individuals with Disabilities, Hispanics, Women, Black/African Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, Native Americans/Alaska Natives, South Asians, Middle Eastern/North Africans, and Aging Americans.

Diversity & Inclusion Committee
The KCVA established its inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Committee in June 2020 and appointed all Special Emphasis Program Managers as members, as well as representatives from the Equal Employment Opportunity Program, Human Resources, and the Executive Leadership Team. The D&IC is chaired by the Medical Center Director, with monthly meetings facilitated by the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer.

Special Observances
Each year, the KCVA commemorates certain days, weeks, and months designated as special observances, focused on addressing challenges faced by individuals identifying within an underrepresented, historically excluded, or marginalized community. Additionally, we mark observances meant to commemorate events, recognize experiences, and celebrate achievements of diverse populations throughout our region, the country, and around the world.

IDEA in Brief: Supervisor’s Short
All supervisors at the KCVA began receiving a weekly educational email written by the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer entitled IDEA in Brief: Supervisor’s Short in late September 2021, featuring information and resources meant to expand their knowledge of topics related to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access as leaders within our organization.

To share experiences, ideas, or concerns related to diversity, inclusion, equity, or access at the KCVA, please contact Dr. Sybil Wyatt, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, by phone at 816-861-4700 ext. 53545 or by email at Sybil.Wyatt@va.gov.

To speak with one of our staff serving special veteran populations:

  • Andrea Simpson, Women's Veteran Program Manager, 816-922-2493
  • Dr. Suzanne Hilleary, LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator, 816-861-4700 ext. 58287
  • Lesley Andrews, Minority Veteran Program Coordinator, 816-861-4700 ext. 56050

VHA Office of Health Equity
Equitable access to high-quality care for all Veterans is a major tenet of the VA healthcare mission. The Office of Health Equity champions the elimination of health disparities and achieving health equity for all Veterans. 

VA’s Center for Minority Veterans
The Center for Minority Veterans is the Department of Veterans Affairs model for inter-and intra-agency co-operation, to ensure all veterans receive equal service regardless of race, origin, religion, or gender.

VA Careers: Diversity at VA
As we serve the most diverse group of Veterans in history, VA is committed to hiring staff that reflects that diversity, ensuring employees feel supported, and providing equitable healthcare access.

VA’s Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2021-2022
To fulfill the VA’s Mission and Vision, the agency will pursue the strategic goals of growing a diverse, high performing workforce; cultivating an inclusive work environment; and facilitating outstanding public service.

VA’s Special Emphasis Programs
By establishing and utilizing Special Emphasis Programs and engaging with affinity groups, VA raises employee awareness of the importance of diversity and demonstrates the Department’s commitment to a model Equal Employment Opportunity workplace.

Executive Order 14035: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce

On June 25, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order launching a whole-of-government initiative to cultivate a federal workforce that draws from the full diversity of the Nation and that advances equitable employment opportunities.

Government-Wide Strategic Plan to Advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce
This Strategic Plan offers a roadmap for implementing Executive Order 14035 and lays out key steps federal agencies can take to strengthen DEIA in their workforce policies, practices, and culture.