Disparities Leadership Program Alumni Spotlight: Johanna Martinez, MD, MS

GME Director of Divesity & Health Equity
Northwell Health

Class of 2017-2018

Why are you passionate about this work?

My story starts with my mother. She was born in El Salvador and was raised in an environment where poverty and social norms could have predicted her life, but she was brave and strong enough to not let that be the case. In her home she was told there was no point in educating a woman. Her determination and ambition allowed her to come to the US and pursue a different path. Despite being undocumented, not speaking English, and being a single mother, she worked hard to educate herself and her children (me). At all times she instilled in us the ideas of social justice and giving back. She is why I am who I am and why I do what I do.

What was your “aha” moment while working on equity-related efforts at your organization?

Despite some progress, there is still so much to do.

What part of the Disparities Leadership Program has been the most useful in moving your work forward?

Learning how to apply Kotter’s model.

What is one piece of advice you would give anyone working on disparities/equity-related efforts?

You need to be flexible, know your audience, and able to tell the equity story from all angles – the humanistic side, the quality improvement side, the financial side, the regulatory side, the innovator side, and both the population and individual side… Always remember that in order for the minority groups to advance we need the help of the majority.

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