Reflecting on Black History Month with our African American and Caribbean Bridges BERG
At Northwell, we strive to cultivate a diverse and inclusive work environment where our team members feel respected and are celebrated.
We spoke with Caitlynn C. Dufort, career and performance development program manager, and Christian Jocelyn, vice president of digital enterprise operations, co-chairs of the African American and Caribbean Bridges BERG (Business Employee Resource Group). Read below as they reflect on the importance of Black History Month, what this year’s theme of black resistance means for them, and the impact our Bridges BERG has made on their career journey at Northwell.
Tell us about your journey toward a career in healthcare at Northwell.
Caitlynn Dufort (CD): I started my career at Northwell as a human resource talent acquisition team member where I focused on internal career mobility and supported our recruitment project strategies. I later pursued a graduate degree in public health and worked in program management before I transitioned to the career and performance development team. In my current role, I have an opportunity to collaborate with our different partners on projects and programs that support team member development.
Christian Jocelyn (CJ): I started my career at Northwell as a paramedic. After being promoted to paramedic supervisor, I obtained my master’s degree in healthcare administration and embarked on my administrative journey, starting as a manager for finance and operations and working my way to vice president of enterprise digital operations. As the vice president, I now oversee the development, integration and administration of operations for the health system’s Digital Centers of Excellence.
What do you think about most during Black History Month?
CD: I think about the month’s origin and the importance of highlighting our ancestors’ contributions. It is important for everyone to be educated on the impact of African Americans on society healthcare. There are many contributions that African Americans have made throughout history that are not widely known.
CJ: I reflect on all there is to learn from the past and am reminded that black history is a shared history. It highlights our unfinished work and struggles that are described in the history textbooks that we still find ourselves grappling with. We have to overcome the challenges of the present to build a better future. We have black history as the blueprint.
What was the theme of this year’s Black History Month? What does that theme mean to you?
CD: The 2023 theme for the month is black resistance. The theme of black resistance focuses on the acknowledgement and history of black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces, where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected, and how also black resistance strategies have served as a model for social movements in our country. Change has not been easy, and resisting the status quo to create safer spaces, laws, and equitable rights was needed and should be celebrated. Therefore, our BERGs wanted to celebrate black excellence and the individuals who have made history as they created change and rose to the occasion even if it meant being resistant.
CJ: Black resistance is a significant thread in the fabric that is American life. The ultimate story of black resistance is the Civil Rights Movement. This social movement ensured that African Americans and other minorities had the basic rights given to them under the constitution protected. We still fight inequality every day, but black resistance has helped us see that we do have the power to overcome even the most insurmountable odds and gives hope for a continued pursuit of a more equal and just society.
What impact has becoming a BERG Member made for you in your career journey at Northwell?
CD: Through collaboration with other team members and the opportunities to grow my network, I have benefited from my experience as a BERG member. My experience inspired me to take advantage of opportunities and to continue the legacy that the co-chairs of the BERGs have established.
CJ: I have been introduced to team members from all over the organization who have made a positive impact on my career. I hope to give back to the BERG a fraction of what it has given me and look forward to future opportunities.
Why do you think it is so important for Northwell to have Bridges BERGs, like the African American/Caribbean Bridges BERG?
CD: In an organization as large as Northwell, the BERGs create an opportunity to connect with all team members across different levels of their career and from different corners of the organization with similar experiences and cultures to network and give back.
CJ: BERGS are key for fostering connection and authenticity and allow team members to bring their full selves into work. They create an environment of trust where ideas can be shared and can lead to better patient care outcomes from creative solutions.
At Northwell, we are one team, raising health for all. We embrace relationship building through understanding and supporting the cultural, spiritual, and ethical values of the communities we serve. Join us and discover a career well cared for today.
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