We received a strong response to the recent call for applicants for the NSGC Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) Action Plan Task Force, with 23 NSGC members and non-members applying to be part of the Task Force.
The selection workgroup for this task force was composed of NSGC President Elect Heather Zierhut, J.E.D.I. Committee Board Liaison Jodie Vento, MGPN Representative Michelle Takemoto, Membership Committee Representative Shreshtha Garg, J.E.D.I. Committee Representative Chinmayee Bhimarao, and Audra Davis and Kyneshia Makle from the Exeter Group.
Task Force members will be receiving foundational anti-racism, implicit bias and communication training. The Task Force will begin meetings in December, and meet for three to four months, until the Action Plan is complete. Once the Action Plan has been developed, we hope to engage those individuals who were not selected, and many others, in the various facets of implementation that will take place over the next few years and beyond.
On behalf of the selection group and the NSGC Board of Directors, we are pleased to introduce the members of the NSGC J.E.D.I. Action Plan Task Force. Please read below to learn more about what each individual member brings to the work of the Task Force.
NSGC J.E.D.I. Action Plan Task Force
Amanda Back, she/her, is a cancer genetic counselor at Thomas Jefferson University and served as Chair of a working group devoted to JEDI initiatives through the Pennsylvania Association of Genetic Counselors (PAGC). She is passionate about work related to religious pluralism, diversifying “best practices” in patient care, and healthcare access to rural and underserved populations.
Amie Blanco, she/her/hers, is a genetic counselor and director of the Cancer Genetics and Prevention & Hereditary Cancer Programs at the University of California, San Francisco. Her current interests include expanding access through novel models of care and public policy advocacy. She is involved in the disability community as the parent to a child with autism spectrum disorder.
Austin Bland, he/him/his, is a research genetic counselor with the University of Washington (UW). He currently serves as a co-chair of the UW Genetic Counseling Graduate Program's Diversity, Anti-Racism and Equity (DARE) committee, and was previously a co-coordinator of the Minority Genetic Professionals Network (MGPN).
Kaitlyn Brown, she/they, Kaitlyn is a genderqueer genetic counselor involved in advocacy and care of people born with variations of sex characteristics. Their work has an intersectional lens that traverses across race, gender, capitalist and societal norms related to sex and the genetics that influence it.
Tiffiney G. Carter, she/her, Tiffiney manages the cancer genetics programs at Houston Methodist Hospital Sugar Land/West. She is passionate about improving health equity and educating the Black community and underserved communities about genetics. She is a past chair of the NSGC cultural competency sub-committee (2012-13) and a board member for Susan G. Komen Health Equity Revolution Initiative.
Gayun Chan-Smutko, she/her/hers, is Associate Director, Associate Professor of the MGH Institute of Health Professions Genetic Counseling Program. Her work includes social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in GC education within MGH IHP and AGCPD.
Allie (Anguiano) Erickson, she/her/ella, is a manager on the Patient Education team at Myriad Genetics based in Denver, CO. She is passionate about bringing equity of care for patients through non-traditional access to genetic counselors and continuously learning about diversity, equity and inclusion.
Sylvia Mann, she/her, is currently the Supervisor of the State of Hawaii Department of Health Genomics Section and Project Director of the Western States Regional Genetics Network. She has worked in public health genetics for almost 30 years, improving access to genetic and newborn screening services for the underserved.
Nydia Santiago Neal, she/her/ella, is a bilingual genetic counselor based out of San Diego, California, currently working for Myriad Genetics, She is passionate about expanding genetic services to underserved populations and making the genetic counseling field more inclusive and diverse.
Amandeep Pabla, she/her, is a prenatal genetic counsellor in Toronto, Canada. She is passionate about providing genetic services for systemically disadvantaged/minority populations.
Maya Rawal, she/her/hers, is a neurology genetic counselor at Mount Sinai Beth Israel's movement disorders clinic. She recently graduated from the Columbia genetic counseling program and was a 2021 LEND fellow through the Westchester Institute for Human Development.
Hillary T Rieger, she/her/hers, is a pediatric and adult genetic counselor at University of Kentucky HealthCare. In addition to her clinical work, she serves on the ethics committee and is developing and facilitating JEDI education and conversations with the Division of Genetics and Metabolism.
Kim Zayhowski, she/her, is a cancer genetic counselor at Boston Medical Center and an educator at Boston University’s Genetic Counseling Program. A queer, multiracial genetic counselor, Kim is dedicated to advocating for LGBTQIA+ justice through research, talks, blogs and mentorship.
Jodie Vento, she/her, Board Liaison, serves on the NSGC Board of Directors. Additionally, she is the Genetic Counseling Program Director and Genetics Faculty lead for the LEND Program at the University of Pittsburgh.