For immediate release, June 19, 2019
Contact: David Rudd, for The Leverage Network


Non-profit organization and US and global partners team for unique program to advance diversity

(Chicago) The Leverage Network, Inc., a membership organization dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusion on the boards of healthcare companies, has established a sponsorship with Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) and international executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles to develop a fellowship program that will prepare qualified African-American professionals for service as directors on corporate healthcare boards.

“Diversity has been an increasing priority for boards, which realize the business and strategic value of having their boards made up of diverse races, genders, backgrounds, mindsets and skill-sets,” said Steve Klemash, Americas Leader of the EY Center for Board Matters. “We’re honored to support this healthcare-focused initiative, to help prepare African-American executives for these important board roles and arm them with the necessary skills and background they need to be successful directors.”

The Healthcare Board Initiative is a six-month fellowship to enhance the preparedness of African-American executives for governance roles in the healthcare industry. EY US will provide health subject matter resources, thought leadership and insights from the boardroom on emerging governance trends and issues, and Heidrick and Struggles will provide executive development to ensure each fellow is well prepared for the next board opportunity. The program will combine content with panel discussions featuring sitting African-American board members who’ll share real life experiences, challenges and success.

Over six months, a cohort of 15 African-American executives will take part in four sessions that will prepare them for board opportunities by providing educational sessions, position them for increased visibility in the industry through strategic networking opportunities, and promote members for directorships through established partner relationships. One six-month fellowship will be offered each year. Participants are members of The Leverage Network.

“I’m extremely excited to offer an initiative like this, because it will play a key role in improving health outcomes for African Americans by transforming board governance in healthcare organizations,” said Antoinette Hardy-Waller, chief executive officer of The Leverage Network. “Our goal is to promote up to 45 executives on their journey to directorship over the course of three years.”

Healthcare organizations continue to grapple with a lack of diversity in governance across all sectors of the industry. While minorities represent upwards of 32% of the patient population served, African Americans represent less than 10% of board members, according to the American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity and Health Equity. The Healthcare Board Initiative will establish a pipeline of African-American executives readied for board opportunities across the healthcare industry, dispelling the myth that this talent does not exist or is difficult to identify.

The initiative will give the market access to qualified African-American leaders from across the country in an effort to ‘change the dynamic’.

“The health sector is rapidly evolving. The human-centric, digitally enabled solutions that are arising to meet the sector’s challenges will need diversity embedded throughout the ecosystem to be relevant,” said Carole Faig, EY US Health Leader. “By teaming with The Leverage Network to drive new ways of thinking, ideas, and approaches, we can help catalyze this systemic change.”

“Heidrick and Struggles is excited to partner with The Leverage Network to continue to develop
the pipeline of African-American board members by educating members on the process, board readiness requirements, and by giving them visibility to board opportunities,” said Billy Dexter, a partner with the firm.