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'A Privilege... Every Day': Craig Hospital CEO Jandel Allen-Davis Focuses On Creating More Inclusive, Diverse Environment

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) - Women of color account for a mere 5% of healthcare leadership positions in the United States, according to a recent analysis. One of them is in Colorado at Craig Hospital.

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"I consider it a privilege to do what I do every day," said Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis, President & CEO of Craig Hospital. "It's an honor."

Yet Dr. Allen-Davis was surprised to learn just 5% of people who run American hospitals are women of color. She called it a sad and sobering statistic.

"I feel like it's another example of wasted potential and opportunity," she told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann. "I've been called a unicorn, that rare thing that maybe you see every now and then."

The Dartmouth grad, who spent 25 years as an OB-GYN before transitioning to administration, is working to change that.

"So, what I say is if I'm a unicorn, they're not as rare as you think," she said. "We're just not looking."

But Allen-Davis is looking. She became President & CEO of Craig in the fall of 2018, and among her many missions is creating a more inclusive and diverse environment.

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"It's work that frankly we're starting at Craig in a more intentional way than perhaps it's been thought of in the past," she said. "That's not a knock on Craig. I think Mr. George Floyd's murder in 2020 set the country on a different path and the work ahead is to see if we can stay on that path."

Her mission of inclusivity is especially apparent in the hospital's apprenticeship program through CareerWise Colorado. Four local high school students are learning about careers in healthcare at Craig.

"They're all kids of color," she said with a smile. "For them to see, 'oh my gosh, there's a CEO and president who wants to spend time and talk to us', but more importantly, 'she looks like us!'"

Allen-Davis said part of the lack of persons of color in healthcare is a pipeline problem. She's working to change that, too.

"How are we working with hybrid colleges and universities, traditional colleges and universities, even middle and high schools… to let kids know these are careers that are super possible," she said.

Yet that cannot be done alone, she added.

"The way it actually happens, sadly, is that we need more white males to open these doors," she explained. "I will say that because my greatest mentors, coaches, friends, ambassadors and sponsors have been, in fact, powerful white men. That's what does it."

But Allen-Davis will do it, too. She can and will open those doors to opportunity, much like others did before her.

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"If you look at all the things that happen in the life of a 60-plus-year-old Black woman," she said of herself, "it's amazing that any of this happened. There were naysayers, a lot of naysayers… but I also had a lot of angels."

Allen-Davis takes a lot of pride in being what she calls "a warrior for the vulnerable." She has dedicated her life in healthcare to helping others, as well as to be a voice for the nameless and voiceless. It is her hope that by opening doors of opportunity – which includes her mentorship to numerous young Black women – that she can help change that '5% of women in healthcare leadership' statistic to 10% and beyond.

"It's possible. It's absolutely possible," she said.


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