Last year, Shannon Bradley, MBA, became the first chief diversity and inclusion officer at Keck Medicine of USC. Her role, which began Sept. 26, is focused on developing new strategies and initiatives to further the organization’s existing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts — which include seminars, events and clinical programs — as well as developing new ways to address health care disparities in hiring, research and patient care.

“In my role, I have the opportunity to work collaboratively with our teams to provide the best care and experience possible for all patients,” Bradley said. “We have the power to change people’s lives. Leveraging diversity, equity and inclusion can help us ensure that it’s for the better.”

Bradley, previously the assistant vice president and division director of DEI for HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division in Houston, Texas, also views her past personal experiences facing health care disparities as a motivation to help others. She spoke more with HSC News about her background and goals.

How did you get into this line of work?

I was a nontraditional student. I got my bachelor’s degree later in life — and as a single parent. As I was going to college, my daughter qualified for Medicaid, but I did not. There were times when I absolutely needed to go to the doctor, but I just didn’t have the money to do so.

It sparked my interest in getting into the administrative side of health care so I could improve things, particularly freeing up financial resources for others. When I was still in college, I won a scholarship with the Executive Leadership Council, a national council focused on Black executives in Fortune 500 companies.

We also got to speak with some of those executives about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. Their focus was not on a feel-good experience, but how it impacted their businesses — whether it was access to additional talent, brand reputation and awareness, or impacting underserved communities. That stood out to me.

What keeps you inspired?

My college years really gave me firsthand experience as to how inhospitable health care can be when you don’t have the resources to access it in the same way as others. Having the ability to provide exceptional care, regardless of individuals’ backgrounds, their socioeconomic status or their cultural observations, should absolutely be a part of every provider’s core mission.

I think this is such an important area. After all, it’s not just the individuals seeking care who are affected, it’s also their family members and the communities where they live and work.

What are your goals for the year?

This year still involves learning about the organization and its structure. By the end of this fiscal year, I’d like to have us really develop the strategy of our DEI office and set some measurable goals for fiscal year 2024.

A great deal of this work has already been done, giving me a bit of a head start, and I’m thankful for that. Once I thoroughly understand all of the avenues in place, I’ll be prepared to build on these DEI efforts to optimize them and make them as effective as possible.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I love to sing. I even tried out for American Idol! I actually have an R&B album that I did as well, about 20 years ago. So that was a valuable experience, and I had a lot of fun.

I also love to travel. My daughter and I went to the Galapagos Islands last year. It was amazing to see all the animals and the ecosystem. When I got married, we went to Phuket, Thailand, for our honeymoon. That destination is hands-down my favorite.

— Kate Faye