Creating and sustaining social justice, diversity, and inclusion.
In the Fall of 2018, the Department of Family Medicine created a social justice, diversity, and inclusion working group called The Justice League.
Co-Founded by Cleveland Piggott and Dionisia de la Cerda, the goal of the group is to educate the Department of Family Medicine team on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), provide recommendations on how to make this department a champion of these issues, and disrupt systems of oppression. Since then, a lot has happened, and in 2023, we were awarded the University of Colorado's President's Diversity Award!
We welcome clinicians, faculty, and staff to attend the group’s regular meetings, join our listserv, and contribute in any way that they can to move us all forward in the DEI mission. If you’d like to join or learn more, please don’t hesitate to email us!
If you want to be more involved in Diversity and Health Equity issues, please join our listserv by clicking here. Then, click “subscribe” on the right hand side, and enter your email.
Gilbert Achay spent over a decade in local and national nonprofits, engaged in youth programs and health advocacy. For nine years he worked at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, serving the company’s philanthropic initiatives on health and racial equity. He is also a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant with the Sankofa Leadership Network.
Originally from Hawai’i, Gilbert grew up learning about his grandparents’ experiences as union workers in the sugarcane plantation fields. This spurred his interest in organizing and contributing to social causes that address power imbalances. He has a B.S. degree from the University of Minnesota, with concentrations in Child Development, Psychology, and Holistic Health, and is a graduate student in counseling psychology at Saint Mary’s University.
Heather Bleacher, MD, MPH
Dr. Bleacher is core faculty at the University of Colorado Family Medicine Residency, and practices family medicine in inpatient and outpatient settings. Through caring for people from many different backgrounds, Heather has witnessed the way they have been harmed or helped through the policies, practices, culture and beliefs that mold their environment. As a result, her career has been focused on shaping new physicians and clinical settings into agents of equity. Since 2012 she has co-directed the residency’s community health curriculum which focuses on population health, advocacy, and community engagement. She has led initiatives at her practice to address health inequities by attending to patients’ social barriers to health. In her role as Director of Health Equity for Clinical Affairs, Heather is working to develop tools, resources, practices and policies to help medical clinics incorporate the pursuit of health equity and the elimination of systemic oppression into their vision and day-to-day operations.
Pronouns: (Xe/Xem, They/Them)
Taryn Bogdewiecz is a Professional Research Assistant at the University of Colorado Department of Family Medicine (DFM). Taryn has been with the university for 6 years, and has worked on the State Innovation Model (SIM) Project, integrating behavioral health into primary care practices. Xe is currently working on projects around Advance Care Planning (ACP), FAST (Facilitating Alcohol Screening & Treatment), and support for a Refugee Review Board. Taryn has three years of experience working as a Practice Facilitator for an Advance Care Planning project and continues to work at the clinic level for training and quality improvement projects. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is an important piece to daily life and experience in the workplace, which Taryn has been working to promote through the Diversity and Health Equity program in the Department of Family Medicine. Xe leads the Disrupting the Status Quo Blog, the LGBTQ+ Journaling Group, is part of the Gender Equity Committee, and coordinates volunteer and donation opportunities to help nurture a positive relationship between the University of Colorado and local community organizations.
Dionisia de la Cerda, MPA
Dionisia de la Cerda has worked for the University of Colorado for almost 2 decades. She began as community college transfer student working as a student tutor in the Math learning Center at the Colorado Springs campus. She has worked in Student Success, Corrections, K12 STEM education research, and for the last 6 years with the Department of Family Medicine’s Practice Innovation program. She recently began working at the Vice Chancellor’s Office of DEI and Community Engagement as a Data and Evaluation Specialist. She co-founded the Diversity and Health Equity program with Cleveland. Her passions are data and community. She is committed to evaluating our work, and creating opportunities for our department to work alongside the community.
Stephanie Mitchell is a Program Assistant at the University of Colorado Department of Family Medicine (DFM). Stephanie has been with the university for 21 years and serves as a Senior Administrative Support Coordinator; she provides administrative support to the DEIA team, especially regarding Cleveland’s schedule, as she is his administrative assistant. She also supports a lot of separate groups and individuals here at the DFM, including our I.T. department and our H.R. director. As a person of color, Stephanie understands the importance of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in her personal life, as well as her everyday work life, and she is striving to make changes within the DFM where she can.
Vanessa Owen, MA
Vanessa Owen has been a Senior Research Services Professional at the University of Colorado, Department of Family Medicine since 2020. Before working with the DFM at CU, Vanessa worked at Children’s Hospital Colorado in public health and spiritual care for 14 years. At Children’s, Vanessa worked extensively on issues around crisis, trauma, loss, resiliency, ethics, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Vanessa feels deeply committed to addressing the ways in which systems impact people. In her work with the DEIA team at University, as well as in her work with the School of Medicine’s residency population health, advocacy, and community engagement curriculum, she has come to believe strongly in the importance of changing policies, improving work cultures, and transforming the harmful beliefs that people espouse, in order to reduce harm being inflicted on BIPOC and LGBTQIA communities. Currently, Vanessa also works with the Integrated Behavioral Health Plus evaluation team and is passionate about addressing the mental health crisis that is occurring in the United States by helping to integrate behavioral health care services into primary care practices.
Cleveland Piggott, MD, MPH
Dr. Piggott is a family physician at the University of Colorado Department of Family Medicine (DFM). He received his MD and MPH from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and completed his residency training at the University of Colorado Family Medicine Residency. As a faculty member, he co-founded the Justice League, a working group on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Colorado's DFM, and is now the inaugural Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Family Medicine. He still sees patients and spends most of his time in medical education. His passion for social justice stems from his life experience as a person of color and a child of immigrants. He finds creating systems and a culture that have equity at the core to be as rewarding as it is challenging.
Carlos Rodriguez, PhD
Dr. Rodriguez is a statistical data analyst with the University of Colorado Department of Family Medicine. He received his PhD from the University of New Mexico where his research focused on using neuroimaging technology to uncover brain-based biomarkers for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). In addition to his research, Dr. Rodriguez has a longstanding commitment to mentoring students from under-represented backgrounds through the University of New Mexico’s El Centro de la Raza, the Society for Neuroscience, and the Society for Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Outside of work, Dr. Rodriguez enjoys spending time with his family and learning how to play guitar.
Alicia Wong, MD, MPH, MA
Dr. Wong is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado. She earned her BA at Bowdoin College and received her MD and MPH from Boston University. She completed residency training at the University of Colorado Family Medicine Residency and stayed on as a Faculty Fellow the following year. She is now one of the lead physicians of Denver Health’s Spinal Cord Injury Primary Care Clinic and does health services research focused on the provision of communication accommodations in primary care and on documenting disability in the medical record. She also serves as Medical Director of the Disability Equity Collaborative. Her time at CU Anschutz is dedicated to developing a disability health equity initiative to improve the accessibility of clinical care and the professional climate for disabled students and trainees.
1st year MPH Student at the Colorado School of Public Health with a concentration in Applied Biostatistics.
Completing a degree in Bachelor of Science in Psychology at University of Colorado Denver.