From clinical to non-clinical professionals, our values are at the heart of everything we do at UPMC. We create a safe environment where quality is our guiding principle; we listen and care for our patients, our health plan members, our fellow employees, our physicians, and our community; we perform our work with the highest levels of responsibility and integrity; we innovate and build excellence into everything we do, and we treat all individuals with dignity and respect.

Each January, in honor of Dignity & Respect Month, UPMC Center for Engagement and Inclusion recognizes our Dignity & Respect Champions – employees who lead by example, incorporating these values into their daily work and fostering an inclusive environment that not only welcomes but encourages differences. Our Dignity & Respect Champions help build a workplace where everyone feels included, valued, and appreciated, whether they’re colleagues, patients, guests, or visitors.

This year, the Center for Engagement and Inclusion recognized 16 Dignity & Respect Champions. Hear a few of their stories:

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Diana Byas

Manager, Care Management, Insurance Services Division

Diana has been a force in serving and uplifting UPMC and our surrounding communities. Diana organized vaccine clinics over the Juneteenth weekend in 2021, and planned vaccine clinics at McKeesport Faith-Based Call to Action and Dreamz Hair Salon to help bring vaccines to communities of color. Diana exemplifies Dignity & Respect, bringing it not only to her colleagues at UPMC but also to underserved communities.

Dr. Demond Bledsoe

Senior Program Director, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital

Dr. Bledsoe champions diversity and inclusion efforts in his research and in his daily interactions with colleagues and patients alike. His research focuses on psychological trauma in diversity and clinical education. He drives cultural competency by encouraging others to learn about the differences within their teams and emphasizes the importance of asking patients to share their customs and practices to ensure compassionate care. He makes everyone feel valued and appreciated as he continually lobbies for change. With Dignity & Respect in mind, Dr. Bledsoe aims to improve UPMC by advocating for increased standards of quality care.

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María Cecilia Dancisin

Manager, Multinational Medical Services, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

María’s passion for her work at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is undeniable. Her work involves improving the language access needs of non-English speaking patients and their families. She has played an integral role in incorporating additional language options on our operators’ phone trees for four UPMC hospitals. These initiatives have benefitted refugee and immigrant communities throughout the Pittsburgh region. Maria is an active member of UPMC’s Refugee & Immigrant Committee, where she informs and encourages community leaders serving these populations.

Rebecca Kolb

Programmatic Nurse Specialist, UPMC Passavant

Over the last year and a half, Rebecca has been working with her team at UPMC Passavant to create and Co-Chair the facility’s Inclusion Committee. During times of social injustice and unrest, Rebecca has helped facilitate conversations on microaggressions and continues to advocate for decreasing health care disparities and improving patient outcomes for individuals from minority groups.

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Lifetime Achievement Award

UPMC’s Dignity & Respect Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually to one individual who leads by the example of incorporating these values into their daily work, based on various criteria including service, leadership, ethics, cultural competency, and workforce models of behavior.

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Dr. Dena Hofkosh

MD, MED, Vice Chair of Pediatrics, Faculty Affairs (retired)

Dr. Dena Hofkosh is dedicated to achieving equity and improved health care outcomes for the LGBTQ+ community. As a founding member of the Employee Resource Group, Pride Health, Dr. Hofkosh was an indisputable selection for this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Innovative and fearless, Dr. Hofkosh advocated for an inclusive and diverse workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, developing and integrating LGBTQ+ health content in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine Curricula. In fact, in 2021, her “Principles of LGBTQ Health” was voted best curriculum.

Through her lens of diversity and inclusion, Dr. Hofkosh devoted her long clinical practice of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics to providing clarity and comfort to patients and their families. As a leader, she nurtured the professional and personal lives of learners and colleagues alike in her storied career, including:

• Pediatric Residency Program Director• Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine• President, Association of Pediatric Program Directors (APPD)• Vice-Chair of Faculty Development, Department of Pediatrics

As she enters retirement, UPMC celebrates her dedication to the educational mission of all faculty, and to faculty excellence and engagement throughout their careers. Under Dr. Hofkosh’s leadership, the Department of Pediatrics and the Office of Faculty Development have committed to supporting the success and fulfillment of faculty members at every career stage. Dr. Hofkosh generously established the Dr. Dena Hofkosh Endowed Fund for Faculty Development in partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. Her philanthropy ensures that the culture of faculty development and dignity and respect – which she championed so vigorously during her career – will continue for future generations.

2021 Dignity & Respect Champions

These are just a few of our 2021 Dignity & Respect Champions. Meet our other Dignity & Respect Champions above. Each year, the Center for Engagement and Inclusion receives countless nominations from our 92,000-employee organization with stories just as impactful as these.

Learn more about our diversity and inclusion efforts, to see how you can be a part of an organization where your differences are celebrated, encouraged, and welcomed.