Our Focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

At Connecticut Children’s, we embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in all we do. We know that our unique qualities make us stronger as an organization and we are creating a culture where our team members, patients, families and community partners all feel welcome and respected.

Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Declaration

As an organization, we are committed to advancing equity in our workplace, our workforce and our marketplace. Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Declaration highlights our organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion framework, which is designed to address racism, discrimination and bias, and foster improvements in all areas of our organization. As our declaration notes, “by listening to each other, respecting each other, and holding different perspectives in the highest regard, we embrace the opportunity to create sustainable change that will define our future success.”

Read Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Declaration 

Our Statements 

As part of our diversity, equity and inclusion journey, our organization has developed the following statements:

A Statement from Connecticut Children’s

In the fields of child health and community health, Connecticut Children’s recognizes the impact of racial and social injustice on families and communities. For many of our patients, families, team members and community partners, the consequences brought about by racism, discrimination and bias are dire. As an organization, we embrace the opportunity to address the root causes of such acts in order to promote radical healing, advance justice for our families and communities, and create sustainable change.

We must be clear – racism, discrimination and bias are unacceptable.

In order to bring about a more equitable society, Connecticut Children’s path forward as a healthcare system must include state-of-the-art medical and surgical care, as well as efforts to build stronger systems of support for children and families that address critical social determinants of health.

The following principles guide our work:

  • Embracing the Biology of Adversity, which details the impact of toxic stress on long-term health and development outcomes
  • Recognizing that the drivers of children’s health, development and well-being are largely related to social, environmental, genetic and behavioral influences
  • Strengthening protective factors to ensure families are better able to withstand life’s challenges
  • Engaging all sectors outside of healthcare that influence child health and development outcomes

Connecticut Children’s is proud to join the organizations and advocates around the world working to end racism, discrimination and bias, as well as the disparities that too often result in healthcare, education, employment, housing and other sectors. Our organization supports the Black Lives Matter movement, the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, the Hispanic and Latinx communities, and anyone who is marginalized, oppressed or faces inequities because of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or disability.

At Connecticut Children’s, our ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion work includes a new strategic framework designed to foster improvements in every aspect of our organization, including reducing healthcare inequities, building a more diverse workforce, and providing team members with education and training on racism and unconscious bias. As part of this journey, our divisions and programs are working to strengthen their office cultures. The Pathways to Action Project developed by Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health serves as one of many examples of transformative work going on across our organization under our strategic framework. To be successful, we must measure the impact of our interventions. We plan to do so through an organization-wide dashboard, which will hold us accountable for achieving progress in creating a more inclusive culture.

We are committed to addressing the root causes of racism, discrimination and bias. We pledge to work with our patients, families, team members and community partners across a variety of sectors to reduce the racial and social divide and advance equity.

Learn more about Connecticut Children’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work.

Learn more about Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.


This statement was informed by team members of various positions and backgrounds across Connecticut Children’s and endorsed by Connecticut Children’s Executive Management Team, with special thanks to:

  • Kevin Borrup, DrPH, JD, MPA, Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center
  • Danielle Chenard, MPH, Connecticut Children’s Research Operations & Development
  • Christopher Corcoran, Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program
  • Susie DiVietro, PhD, Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center
  • Debra Dudack, MS, Connecticut Children’s Marketing and Communications Department
  • Nilda Fernandez, LMSW, Hartford Youth HIV Identification and Linkage Consortium
  • Amy Hunter, PhD, MPH, Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center
  • Danielle Warren-Dias, MS, HS-BCP, Hartford Youth HIV Identification and Linkage Consortium

For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples and their ancestors cultivated and cared for the land along what we now know as the Connecticut and Farmington Rivers. Various tribes, all part of the loose Algonquin confederation, lived in or around present-day Hartford. These included the Podunks, mostly east of the Connecticut River; the Poquonocks, north and west of Hartford; the Massacoes, in the Granby-Simsbury area; the Tunxis tribe, in West Hartford and Farmington near the Farmington River; the Naubuc, Nayaugs, Wongunks, to the south in Glastonbury; the Pequonnocks in Fairfield; and the Saukiogs who lived in Hartford. Saukiog was the Native American name for Hartford.

We recognize Indigenous peoples and their ancestors as the traditional custodians of the land on which Connecticut Children’s hospital and clinics are now located. We honor and respect the relationship that exists between these peoples and nations and this land. These Indigenous peoples stewarded the lands and waterways that we now use for our own benefit. They farmed, hunted, fished, and bartered among neighboring tribes. They were invested in the success of their community. The peoples requested education and instruction from visitors and used the missionary interest in their community to their advantage.

Like them, we are dedicated to improving our community and expanding our discoveries to new communities. We continue in their path to bring a healthy vision forward to the next generation. We continue working to make the future generations better.

About the Authors:

Connecticut Children’s Risk Management Team researched and developed this Land Acknowledgement for our organization, which has been endorsed by Connecticut Children’s Executive Management Team. We wish to give special thanks to:

  • Michele Koss, RN, BSN, MS, CPHRM, CNML, Senior Director of Risk Management
  • Sandy Brink, BSN, RN, CPHRM, Senior Manager of Risk and Privacy Compliance
  • Theresa LeBeau, Risk & Claims Analyst
  • Lauren Steele, CHSP, Workplace Safety and Health Manager

At Connecticut Children’s, we are proud to offer high quality gender-affirming and
developmentally appropriate healthcare to our transgender and gender diverse patients
and their families through Connecticut Children’s Gender Program. Our program
provides a safe and supportive environment for our patients to thrive and feel
comfortable being their authentic selves in a way that strengthens their physical, mental
and emotional health. We are also proud to stand with our colleagues at children’s
hospitals and health systems across the country, as they remain committed to providing gender-affirming care to their patients and families. Together, we will continue to advocate for transgender and gender diverse youth and their families.

At Connecticut Children’s, we strive to make our organization as welcoming and
inclusive as possible for our team members, our patients and their families, and our
community partners. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is detailed in our organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Declaration, which is available on our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion web page.

Additional information:
Children’s Hospital Association: Statement of Support for the Health and Wellbeing of Transgender Youth

Legislation that aims to restrict individual rights to medically appropriate care challenges our goal of transforming children’s health and well-being as one team. Upholding our core values of respectful, family-centered care is even more critical now that the rights to gender-affirming care and protection of transgender and gender diverse youth are in danger nationally.

Across the country, legislation is banning access to gender-affirming care, further disenfranchising LGBTQIA youth:

  • LGBTQIA youth experience high rates of bullying, violence, housing instability, depression, substance misuse, and suicidality; rates of these issues are even worse for LGBTQIA youth of color. (Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 2020)
  • 85% of transgender and non-binary youth said their mental health is negatively affected by anti-trans laws that criminalize helping a transgender child obtain medically necessary care. (The Trevor Project, 2022)
  • Anti-trans laws have led some children’s hospitals to remove information about gender-affirming care from their websites, further limiting transgender kids’ and teens’ ability to find potentially life-saving information and care. (STAT, 2022)

Research shows that access to gender-affirming care can significantly improve mental health outcomes in transgender and gender diverse youth:

  • Transgender youth who choose a name different from the one given to them at birth experience improved mental health outcomes when their chosen name is used in affirming contexts. (Journal of Adolescent Health, 2018)
  • Within the first year of receiving gender-affirming care interventions, transgender youth experience 60% lower odds of depressive symptoms and 73% lower odds of self-harm and suicidal ideation. (JAMA Network, 2022)
  • Attempted suicides decline when transgender youth have their pronouns respected, are able to change their name and/or gender marker on legal documents, and have access to spaces that affirm their gender identity. (The Trevor Project, 2021)

Ways to show support and make a difference:

In the workplace:

Supporting LGBTQIA youth and teens:

To learn about other ways Connecticut Children’s supports the LGBTQIA community, click here: 5 Ways Connecticut Children’s Supports LGBTQIA Patients and Families.


This statement was informed by team members of various positions and backgrounds across Connecticut Children’s and endorsed by the OCCH Equity Committee, with special thanks to:

  • Susie DiVietro, PhD, Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center
  • Lauren Dominique, MA, Office for Community Child Health
  • Debra Dudack, Connecticut Children’s Marketing and Communications Department
  • Amy Hunter, PhD, MPH, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
  • Priya Phulwani, MD, Connecticut Children’s Gender Program
  • Morgan Reiss, LMSW, Connecticut Children’s Help Me Grow National Center
  • Melissa Santos, PhD, Connecticut Children’s Division of Pediatric Psychology

Our Initiatives

In addition, our divisions and programs are working on plans to strengthen their office cultures. Here are some examples of this work:

Connecticut Children’s Support and Teamwork Resulting in Valuable Experiences (STRIVE) initiative is a partnership between the health system and Bloomfield High School (BHS) to promote future career opportunities to students. It was developed by Connecticut Children’s Research Operations and Development department to help build interest among students in healthcare careers and to increase workforce diversity at healthcare organizations. To date, STRIVE has hosted career days at Connecticut Children’s and career panels at Bloomfield High School.


The Pathways to Action Project addresses issues of diversity, equity and inclusion within Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health. Pathways to Action has hosted a series of town hall sessions; formed an equity committee; and suggested improvements to make hiring practices more equitable. Learn more about the Pathways to Action Strategic Plan.

Connecticut Children’s Women in Surgery group launched a Women in Surgery Podcast to highlight how they operate, as well as to provide a platform for women surgeons to network, share their successes, and work to eliminate barriers that prevent women from entering the field. Listen to the podcast episodes here.

Our Articles

As an organization, Connecticut Children’s is also committed to raising awareness about diversity, equity and inclusion beyond our health system. One of the ways we do this is by publishing articles on Connecticut Children’s Growing Healthy Blog and Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health’s Advancing Kids Blog.

Here is a sampling of such content:

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