FEATURE | Posted July 23, 2014

Amid contrasts

Diversity officer looks for similarities

David Acosta © UC Regents
David Acosta, associate vice chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion

David A. Acosta spent many years working in a community health center in Susanville, Calif., that provided health care and education to rural, underserved and migrant farmworker populations. The experience was in sharp contrast to his urban upbringing by immigrant parents in the densely populated area of Santa Ana, Calif.

Yet the diversity of these experiences also highlighted their similarities – the barriers that underrepresented patients, students, staff and faculty have to overcome to achieve success.

“I know the benefits minority role models and mentors bring in helping a health-care workforce to flourish. From them I learned how to ease the burden of the inequities and disparities that my patients from racial/ethnic population groups suffer unjustifiably,” Acosta said.

His passion, understanding and drive to create a more equitable and inclusive learning and working environment led him to focus on academic and organizational diversity over the past decade. Since last summer, he has focused his efforts here at UC Davis Health System.

I know the benefits minority role models and mentors bring in helping a heath-care workforce to flourish. From them I learned how to ease the burden of the inequities and disparities that my patients from racial/ethnic population groups suffer unjustifiably.
—  David Acosta

After a nationwide search, Acosta was selected as associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion at the health system. He was previously chief diversity officer at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

He leads diversity activities across all health-system operations, including the UC Davis School of Medicine, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, UC Davis Medical Center and the physician practice group.

Acosta is a recognized leader in managing and directing diversity and inclusion programs. As the inaugural chief diversity officer at UW’s School of Medicine, Acosta co-authored the diversity strategic plan and founded the Center for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. He serves as faculty for the Association of American Medical Colleges Healthcare Executive Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program and teaches diversity strategic planning development and implementation.

“Diversity and inclusion should be the foundations for our interactions with each other, our patients and our communities, as well as for our research and education programs,” said Acosta.