Celebrating Black History
Recognizing our Health Care Leaders
Andrew Alexis, MD, MPH
Site Chair, Department of Dermatology
Director, Skin of Color Center, Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West
Associate Professor, Dermatology
As a physician of color, Dr. Andrew Alexis believes that to be diverse and inclusive is to foster an environment that “embraces the broad range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds of our community.” Dr. Alexis’ mixed ethnic background contributes to his passion for delivering culturally sensitive care and treating dermatologic conditions that are more prevalent in patients of color. In support of the System’s mission to provide compassionate patient care to diverse communities, Dr. Alexis regularly encourages students, residents, and faculty of underrepresented groups in medicine to utilize valuable insights from their backgrounds and experiences to improve the patient experience.
Emma K. T. Benn, MPH, DrPH
Director, Academic Programs, Center for Biostatistics
Co-Director, MS in Biostatisics Program and MPH in Biostatistics Track, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Assistant Professor, Population Health Science and Policy
Growing up on the “Main Line” in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Dr. Emma Benn describes her upbringing as “infused with a strong sense of culture and history, with a pride rooted in a unique blend of race and place.” This background, paired with her belief that we achieve inclusion when we value and successfully draw upon our heterogeneity, has motivated Dr. Benn to create opportunities for underrepresented groups in the clinical investigator workforce. As a biostatistician, she applies her statistical expertise to reduce health disparities while simultaneously striving to foster a diverse and equitable environment at all levels. As a result, the System is uniquely equipped with the innovative ideas necessary to optimally serve our patient populations.
Gary C. Butts, MD
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Mount Sinai Health System
Dean, Diversity Programs, Policy and Community Affairs, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Professor, Departments of Medical Education, Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine
As MSHS Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and the first African American male full Dean at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dr. Gary Butts has an unwavering commitment to improving health equity and advancing representation and inclusion for students, trainees, faculty, and staff from racial, ethnic, and gender minority groups, as well as other underrepresented groups. His life experiences and current roles as the Director of the Health System’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the School’s Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs, motivate Dr. Butts to continue working to ensure individuals from underserved communities have regular access to health care, educational resources, and career development opportunities.
Garfield A. D. Clunie, MD
Director, Ambulatory Maternal-Fetal Medicine Services
Assistant Professor, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Dr. Garfield Clunie is currently the Director of Ambulatory Maternal-Fetal Medicine Services at the OB/GYN Ambulatory Practice and participates in the Faculty Practice Associates. As a Caribbean-American from the island of Jamaica, he identifies with and fosters an inclusive environment for patients of diverse backgrounds. Dr. Clunie explains that his role within the Mount Sinai Health System is to “treat every patient as an individual, regardless of background or access to resources, and help them to understand that we at Mount Sinai are here to give the best care possible, in a safe and comfortable environment, that is also culturally sensitive.”
Sharon M. Edwards, MD
Director, Mount Sinai Pediatric School-Based Clinics
Associate Professor, Pediatrics and Medical Education
An advocate for families living in poverty, Dr. Sharon Edwards has dedicated her career to caring for individuals in underrepresented communities. As an African American female of Panamanian descent, Dr. Edwards is motivated by the challenges her mother faced in coming to the U.S. and therefore, encourages individuals “to see the brilliance in themselves and challenge systems that discriminate against them because they are poor and a minority.” She strives to recruit talented underrepresented minority applicants at the faculty, resident, and medical student level through her role as Vice Chair for Diversity Initiatives for the Department of Pediatrics. She believes that diversity—inviting new perspectives that dare us to think differently—makes the department and organization stronger.
Ugo A. Ezenkwele, MD, MPH
Chief, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai Queens
Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine
Born and raised in New York City to Nigerian parents, Dr. Ugo Ezenkwele constantly applies his background and his diverse surroundings to his practice of medicine. Providing care in the most ethnically diversity city in the world, he recognizes the need for an employee base that is equally diverse. “Understanding that patients are unique brings a keen understanding to their care. No one method is the cure-all, rather each person has to be approached individually.” Dr. Ezenkwele’s deep appreciation of diversity inspired him to create a forum called “Creative Thursdays” open to all staff to share ideas on problem solving and improving patient care. Engaged staff, various perspectives, and continuing to provide quality health care, “that is the power of diversity and inclusion.”
Yasmin Hurd, PhD
Director, Center for Addictive Disorders
Ward-Coleman Chair of Translational Neuroscience
Professor, Departments of Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics
Born in Jamaica and having spent a large portion of her career in Sweden, Dr. Yasmin Hurd appreciates the value of diversity and inclusion in strengthening an organization. In coming to the U.S. first as a young teen and later as an adult, Dr. Hurd faced challenges as a woman of color and “foreigner.” This taught her that “promoting respect and opening minds while reducing implicit biases is difficult to achieve without including everyone at the table.” As such, Dr. Hurd is dedicated to ensuring future generations have diverse role models so they learn to value different perspectives and are motivated to achieve their full potential.
Malcolm D. Reid, MD, MPP
Site Chair, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West
Assistant Professor, Rehabilitation Medicine
As a native New Yorker with African-American and Caribbean roots, Dr. Malcolm Reid believes that his cultural heritage has heightened his sensitivity to the needs of the diverse populations we serve. Since joining the organization in 1998 as Vice Chairman of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center (now Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West), Dr. Reid has upheld the golden rule in his interactions with staff and patients: treating each person as you would want your family member to be treated, with respect and compassion, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, culture, religion, or sexual orientation. He believes diversity and inclusion add to the quality care provided to our patients and to overall staff satisfaction.
Michelle L. Sainte
Associate Dean for Academic Administration, Department of Medical Education
For Michelle Sainte, diversity and inclusion means “recognizing differences, embracing the new space those differences create, identifying shared experiences, and advancing the dialogue of how differences can improve and enhance the environment.” Raised in the South with African American and Afro Caribbean heritage and ancestry, Ms. Sainte’s multicultural background informs her work. She is dedicated to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment where all faculty, staff, and students feel respected and valued, allowing education, health care delivery, and research at Mount Sinai to thrive.
Pamela Y. Abner, MPA
Chief Administrative Officer, Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Mount Sinai Health System
Through her role in the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Pamela Abner strives to raise awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion to the livelihood of the organization. As a Black woman of Caribbean descent, her cultural influences and experiences allow her to empathize with individuals underrepresented in health care. By utilizing research, developing education, and applying best practices,
Ms. Abner continuously implements programs and initiatives that seek to eliminate barriers to care, employment, and education for the aforementioned population.
Natalia Cineas, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
Senior Director of Nursing, Mount Sinai Morningside
A senior nursing administrator of Haitian descent, Natalia Cineas is sensitive to the needs of all patients and families at Mount Sinai Morningside, especially those for whom English is a second or foreign language. She believes that at its core, diversity and inclusion is about creating an environment where everyone feels respected and valued in their daily interactions with others. Through her leadership as Co-chair of the hospital’s diversity council, Dr. Cineas endeavors to create an inclusive environment at Mount Sinai Morningside by providing a forum where staff of various levels, departments, and backgrounds may share ideas and opinions, with the ultimate goal of improving the patient experience.
Berthe Erisnor, MBA
Vice President, Ambulatory Care, Mount Sinai Morningside
A member of the executive team at Mount Sinai Morningside, Berthe Erisnor views the core values of perseverance, resilience, agility, and hard work as important factors to her success. Having previously worked at The Mount Sinai Hospital and the Icahn School of Medicine, Ms. Erisnor’s current efforts in planning for the expansion of the Mount Sinai Morningside network of ambulatory care practices and developing key clinical services with a focus on population health management are strengthened by the System’s culture of inclusion. “Working in a system that embodies a culture of inclusiveness gives leaders like me confidence to strive for continued development without the fear of being limited by social or racial prejudices.”
Alicia Gresham, MBA, MS
Vice President, Network Operations, Mount Sinai Health System
For Alicia Gresham, who was born in Kentucky and has lived in various states and countries due to her father’s service in the U.S. Army, diversity and inclusion means “not only being open to diverse opinions, thoughts, people, and perspectives, but to actively seek them out to improve the overall quality of the decisions being made.” As a woman of color, Ms. Gresham sees her current
role as an opportunity to represent both herself and other people of color so she may ensure a higher quality of patient care and safety, patient and staff experience, and overall education and research throughout the System.
Regginald Jordan, MHA, FACHE
Vice President, Administration, Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West
Born and raised in Florida after his family relocated there from Georgia, Regginald Jordan traces his roots to Africa. Through his leadership, he strives to ensure that every interaction with a patient and their family is a positive experience – adhering to traditional Southern values of mutual respect, hospitality, empathy, and compassion. Mr. Jordan’s belief that everyone is part of one race, the human race, complements his definition of inclusion: learning from individual differences to achieve solutions that work for the greater good. Through inclusion, he believes Mount Sinai Health System providers and leaders are better able to provide world-class, patient-focused quality care.
Amy Porter-Tacoronte, MBA
Vice President, Oncology, Mount Sinai Health System
Vice President, Radiology Hospital Operations, The Mount Sinai Hospital
Encouraged by life lessons in the form of stories told by her mother and grandmother, Amy Porter-Tacoronte makes a conscious effort to listen to people’s stories – especially stories from those who may feel powerless or excluded because of their status. In this way, the New York-native has become an ally in helping staff and patients address barriers that may impact their delivery of or access to quality care. Through Ms. Porter-Tacoronte’s role at The Mount Sinai Hospital and in the System, she works to foster an environment of “fair consideration,” ensuring different perspectives are considered to inform decision-making and prioritize the needs of all patients.
Marian Y. Scott, MS
Director, Community Health Education, Community and Government Affairs, Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West
Driven by a strong work ethic impressed upon her by her parents and grandparents, Marian Scott has dedicated her career to giving back to the community. Her belief that everyone has a right to health care – regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, education, religion, sexual orientation, or disability – fueled her efforts working with community leaders and local organizations to coordinate life-saving health screenings in New York City’s most underserved communities. As a devoted mentor, volunteer, and community advocate, Marian values respect for and acknowledgment of differences and feels that an organization thrives when inclusion is reflected in its culture and practices.
Edwidge J. Thomas, DNP, ANP-BC
Medical/Clinical Director, Mount Sinai DSRIP Performing Provider System, Mount Sinai Health System
Raised by immigrant Haitian parents who valued education, community service and engagement, and self-actualization, Edwidge Thomas lives by the adage, “I am my brother’s keeper.” Her background, coupled with her passion for serving, engaging, and empowering underserved populations to obtain care and better understand their health care options, motivated Dr. Thomas to pursue a career in nursing. As a proud woman of color, Dr. Thomas attributes her achievements to mentors who have served as her “keepers” throughout her nursing education and training. She continues to embrace the challenges of diversifying the health care workforce by empowering providers to blaze new trails in nontraditional roles and, through her volunteer work, encourages adults to reach their full potential as individuals, parents, and citizens.
Recognizing our History Makers
We honor MSHS African American physicians who have made significant contributions in the fields of medicine and clinical research.
William Harold Branch, MD
First African American Physician at The Mount Sinai Hospital
Dr. Branch was a research member of the special cardiac clinic at The Mount Sinai Hospital from 1934 to 1941, where he eventually became Senior Clinical Assistant. Dr. Branch observed and documented acute coronary occlusion in African Americans, which challenged existing theory on that subject. Dr. Branch was the first African American to be elected to membership in the American Heart Association.
David K. McDonogh, MD
From Slavery to Physician
Dr. McDonogh, a former slave, was one of the first African American ophthalmologists in the United States, and practiced at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEEI) in the late 1840s. As one of the first American slaves to graduate college, Dr. McDonogh finished third in his class from Lafayette College with a BA in Medicine. The college has a sculpture in his honor on their campus.
Donna Mendes, MD
First Board Certified Female African American Vascular Surgeon
Dr. Mendes became the first African American female vascular surgeon certified by the American Board of Surgery, and has been in practice at Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West (formerly Mount Sinai Roosevelt) since 1984. Dr. Mendes’ clinical research has focused on the seemingly greater frequency and severity of vascular disease in African Americans.
John E. Moseley, MD
Pioneer in Radiology and Blood Disorders
Dr. Moseley practiced medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital for four decades (1943—1983) and served as their first pediatric radiologist. Dr. Moseley was a pioneer in radiology and blood disorders, contributing to the understanding of sickle cell anemia by identifying certain abnormalities and changes in the bones of patients. Dr. Moseley retired in 1983 as associate professor emeritus of radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Miriam Senhouse Rossi, MD
First African American student and graduate at MSSM
Dr. Rossi was part of the first graduating class of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1970. The Rossi Medical Student Quarterly Report, written at the now, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is named in her honor. Dr. Rossi spent three decades in adolescent medicine, and is actively involved in medical education for young people and in community health education and research.
Doris Wethers, MD
Advocate for Pediatric Sickle Cell Anemia Disease
Dr. Wethers was the first African American attending physician at Mount Sinai Morningside (1958), and the first appointed to head a New York City voluntary hospital department. As Director of Pediatrics and the Sickle Cell Center at Mount Sinai Morningside and West (formerly Roosevelt) , Dr. Wethers was a tireless advocate for the early testing and treatment of sickle cell anemia in adolescents, and published more than 30 scholarly articles on the disease.
Sponsored by the Office for Diversity and Inclusion.