June 26, 2019

How Data Can Help Health Practitioners Create an Inclusive Environment, with Shamayne Braman

Episode 17:

Shamayne Braman was born in Guyana and immigrated to the United States with her mom and extended family when she was four years old. She lived in an urban center, just outside of Newark New Jersey, where the educational outcomes for students in the school district were bleak.

In 6th grade, Shamayne earned a full scholarship to a prestigious private school three towns away, where the communities, teachers, and students differed from me racially and socio-economically. That same year, her mother suffered a massive stroke. The combination of these events at the same time in her life shaped her understanding of inequity as well as a racial and cultural difference. It also taught her two important skills how to maintain her authenticity among very different social contexts and how to keep pushing when faced with an extreme challenge in her case keeping up her grades while watching her mother lose her ability to speak, write, walk, and otherwise live the healthy normal life that shed lived previously.

After graduation, Shamayne attended Princeton University where she fell in love with education and social justice and went on to pursue her Masters in education policy and management at Harvard University. Shamayne then joined Teach for America where she returned to the community that she grew up in and spent a few years in the classroom. These were formative professional years for me, where she determined the kind of leader she wanted to be and her commitment to equity solidified. During this time, she met her husband, an educator and school administrator also committed to social justice but with a desire to become a social entrepreneur.

The year that she married, they moved to the Twin Cities where he grew up and he started his own real estate business which in addition to residential sales also focuses on reducing housing inequity in the community. She too decided to embark on a new adventure and transitioned from the classroom to Diversity and Inclusion work, in healthcare. It felt paradoxical for her, given the experience that her mother had in the healthcare system as a black woman for Shamayne to work for a hospital system.

Each day, Shamayne works to ensure that every patient, member, and colleague not only feel welcomed included and valued when they walk through their doors but that regardless of identity (race, LGBTQ+ identity, socioeconomic status or any other factor), their patients and members get equitable access to quality care and service and help them live happy and healthy lives.

Through her work, Shamayne had the opportunity to study at Harvard through the Young American Leaders Program, focusing on cross-sector collaboration to create shared prosperity in their communities. She has been fortunate to be named one of Minneapolis St. Pauls 40 Under 40 Honorees and I’m humbled by the recognition. Shamayne has had the opportunity to serve on boards that advance issues she passionate about including OutFront MNs commitment to LGBTQ people, AchieveMpls advancement of opportunities for Minneapolis Youth, and One Heartlands determination to improve the lives of marginalized young people through summer programming.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Shamayne’s first introduction to the idea that inequalities exist and how to navigate and engage within the different communities helped her become more self-aware
  • How America Corps showed her the inequalities that existed in her community, particularity with children and families of color
  • What health disparities and how it relates to healthcare
  • Why people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community experience worse health outcomes than those who identify as white or those who are not racially diverse
  • Examples of health disparities between women of color compared to women who are white
  • An overview of the work that Shamayne is doing at HealthPartners as it relates to making sure that everyone receives the best quality care as possible
  • The unexplored consequences of not being an inclusive environment from a health equity and diversity inclusion perspective and ways HealthPartners is addressing them through collecting data
  • How having data on those whose English was not their first language has helped HealthPartners become more inclusive and create an opportunity for them to participate more in therapy
  • The top three things that Shamayne advises practitioners wanting to move into diversity and inclusion work specifically in healthcare can do

Additional resources: