2020-2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Year in Review

A Message from Leadership

A year ago, our nation experienced injustices and social unrest that compelled the American Lung Association to reflect on what we can do to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion fully and genuinely within the organization and the communities we serve. 

As we continue addressing the health disparities that exist within the US, we as an organization need to ensure we speak to and address the unique needs of all populations with an understanding of the disproportionate impact of systemic racism and social injustice on the health of certain communities. As such, we are directing staff and engaging volunteers with this renewed focus.

Members of the National Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council Members of the National Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council

In August 2020, we announced the formation of the Lung Association’s first-ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council. The staff-based council seeks to advance the organization’s lifesaving mission while fostering and implementing DE&I in the Lung Association’s practices, programs and processes. 

In less than a year, the Lung Association is proud to have taken several actions based on the DEI Council’s recommendations and in partnership with the Executive Leadership Team (ELT), staff and volunteers, including: 

  • Adding Juneteenth to our paid holiday schedule;
  • Actively acknowledging several observances internally, and externally on our social media platforms and website;
  • Initiating an annual survey to gauge staff sentiments on DEI within the organization;
  • Launching a DEI landing page on Lung.org that highlights Lung Association resources addressing health disparities among Black, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian and LGBTQ+ communities; 
  • Creating internal monthly discussions to broaden staff knowledge of and appreciation for DEI; and
  • Influencing the communications of the organization to include culturally relevant and sensitive information.

This is just the beginning. The DEI Council and ELT are currently working together with Lung Association staff on many more ways to advance DEI in all assets of our mission work, not just externally, but within the ranks of our organization. Objectives of the DEI Council include: 

  • Build capacity and competency to lead and manage a diverse workforce.
  • Create a work environment that ensures equitable access for all to opportunities for professional growth and advancement.
  • Develop staff cultural competence and responsiveness to maximize our effectiveness in community engagement with historically underrepresented constituents and partners, considering and respecting their unique perspectives, experiences, contributions, and needs.
  • Foster an inclusive environment so that all association leaders, staff, and board members are confident in talking about race, racism and its implications for the organization and the communities we serve.

We hope all staff, volunteers, and supporters will join us in celebrating the work of the DEI Council these past 12 months and ongoing efforts of staff nationwide to drive equitable and sustainable community health impact, which builds on our legacy of work to address health disparities. We look forward to the Lung Association building upon these efforts in the coming years. 

Harold P. Wimmer
National President & CEO
Harold P. Wimmer
National President & CEO
Stephen R. O’Kane
National Board Chair
Stephen R. O’Kane
National Board Chair
Kristina A. Hamilton, MPH
National Chair, DEI Council
Advocacy Director, Illinois & Iowa
Kristina A. Hamilton, MPH,
National Chair, DEI Council
Advocacy Director, Illinois & Iowa

Page last updated: August 25, 2021

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