At Northwell, we strive to create a diverse and inclusive work environment, where our team members are celebrated and respected. National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from September 15 to October 15–it’s a time when we commemorate the accomplishments, contributions and culture of our Hispanic and LatinX team members.
The Northwell Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs) connect our team members and the communities we serve to create a unified workplace where our employees feel welcome and included. We interviewed BERG Co-chair Dora SantaMaria-Yao, senior director of organizational change management, and BERG Executive Coordinator Lucy Lemus, associate product services and management analyst, to ask them about the upcoming month, the importance of the LatinX BERG, and how their career at Northwell has been supported by the BERG.
Tell us about your career journey in healthcare.
Dora SantaMaria-Yao: I was a 17-year-old high school graduate who had just immigrated from Guatemala. I was looking for a job and found one that required a Spanish speaker. I quickly realized I had a passion for helping patients. I continued that journey for a few years. Later, I continued my college education and got a job at a surgical practice where I grew from a clerk to a multiple practice administrator. I was attracted to Northwell because I wanted to be part of something bigger. As senior director of organizational change management, I oversee change management activities for revenue cycle. The main objective of my team is to focus on the people side of change to ensure success. We also work closely with the project management team for a comprehensive and consolidated delivery of high quality projects.
Lucy Lemus: I came to Northwell two years ago from a career in change management, re-engineering processes, procurement, and urban geospatial analysis across an array of industries. Everywhere I went I would see Northwell facilities, and I took it as a sign. When a friend of mine who works at Northwell told me how grateful she is to be a part of such an amazing organization, I quickly jumped at the opportunity to become a team member too. My role is non-clinical, but I have learned so much about this field and the different aspects of it. As an associate product services and management analyst, my role is to work with my team on the implementation of new solutions and processes for identified business needs, while supporting our end users to adapt to change.
How has becoming a BERG member impacted your career journey at Northwell?
DS: I think it’s important for team members to find a place of cultural belonging, where shared passions can be fueled between our community and colleagues. The LatinX BERG has become my extended family and I’m so grateful to be part of it. I am currently one of the co-chairs for the BERG. The relationships and friendships I have made through the BERGs are precious to me. It has given me a deeper perspective about the organization and our mission and I’m extremely proud of the work we have done together.
LL: It is important to have BERGs that stay true to Northwell’s value of Truly Inclusive and celebrate diversity while fostering a sense of belonging for all team members. Joining a BERG as a new team member at Northwell has provided me with the opportunity to get to know what the organization is about, meet amazing people, and advance my professional development. I am now the executive coordinator of the LatinX BERG, and I can see the positive impact of the BERGs in the organization.
What do you think about when you hear “Hispanic Heritage Month?”
DS: As an immigrant many years ago, Hispanic Heritage Month was a foreign concept to me. I grew up celebrating “Día de la Hispanidad” which is celebrated in the United States as Columbus Day. As my horizons broadened, I started to appreciate the incredible contribution that Hispanics and LatinX have made to this country. I think of the sacrifices and examples from those who have set a path for us today. I think about their struggles and I’m so grateful to get to celebrate it.
LL: I am so proud of my heritage. Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to reflect on our rich and vibrant culture, traditions and contributions. I know the holiday is only a month, but we should celebrate who we are every day.
What is the theme of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month and what does it mean to you?
DS: The theme for 2022 is: “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” As Hispanics, we come from so many different countries with our own culture, food, music and dialects, which can sometimes separate us. We are UNIDOS; we are all Hispanic and together we make for a stronger nation.
LL: The theme for Hispanic Heritage this year is Unity. The theme speaks to our core values, strength, resilience and remembering there is nothing we cannot accomplish together.
The LatinX BERG has a month-long agenda for Hispanic Heritage Month packed with relevant and timely content. Starting with a Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff event on September 15 with guest speaker Dr. Nicolas Hernandez, associate program director, this month-long celebration includes a fireside chat, a LatinX Salsa hour and more. Northwell Health will be holding local celebrations at select facilities during Hispanic Heritage Month.
At Northwell, we are one team, raising health for all. Join us and discover a career well cared for here.