DiversityNursing Blog

Maya Angelou Biography

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jun 02, 2014 @ 02:29 PM

 

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Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents divorced when she was only three and she was sent with her brother Bailey to live with their grandmother in the small town of Stamps, Arkansas. In Stamps, the young girl experienced the racial discrimination that was the legally enforced way of life in the American South, but she also absorbed the deep religious faith and old-fashioned courtesy of traditional African American life. She credits her grandmother and her extended family with instilling in her the values that informed her later life and career. She enjoyed a close relationship with her brother. Unable to pronounce her name because of a stutter, Bailey called her "My" for "My sister." A few years later, when he read a book about the Maya Indians, he began to call her "Maya," and the name stuck.

At age seven, while visiting her mother in Chicago, she was sexually molested by her mother's boyfriend. Too ashamed to tell any of the adults in her life, she confided in her brother. When she later heard the news that an uncle had killed her attacker, she felt that her words had killed the man. She fell silent and did not speak for five years.

Maya began to speak again at 13, when she and her brother rejoined their mother in San Francisco. Maya attended Mission High School and won a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco's Labor School, where she was exposed to the progressive ideals that animated her later political activism. She dropped out of school in her teens to become San Francisco's first African American female cable car conductor. She later returned to high school, but became pregnant in her senior year and graduated a few weeks before giving birth to her son, Guy. She left home at 16 and took on the difficult life of a single mother, supporting herself and her son by working as a waitress and cook, but she had not given up on her talents for music, dance, performance and poetry.

In 1952, she married a Greek sailor named Anastasios Angelopulos. When she began her career as a nightclub singer, she took the professional name Maya Angelou, combining her childhood nickname with a form of her husband's name. Although the marriage did not last, her performing career flourished. She toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess in 1954 and 1955. She studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows, and recorded her first record album, Calypso Lady in 1957.

She had composed song lyrics and poems for many years, and by the end of the 1950s was increasingly interested in developing her skills as a writer. She moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild and took her place among the growing number of young black writers and artists associated with the Civil Rights Movement. She acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Blacks and wrote and performed a Cabaret for Freedom with the actor and comedian Godfrey Cambridge.

In New York, she fell in love with the South African civil rights activist Vusumzi Make and in 1960, the couple moved, with Angelou's son, to Cairo, Egypt. In Cairo, Angelou served as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. Angelou and Guy later moved to Ghana, where she joined a thriving group of African American expatriates. She served as an instructor and assistant administrator at the University of Ghana's School of Music and Drama, worked as feature editor forThe African Review and wrote for The Ghanaian Times and the Ghanaian Broadcasting Company.

During her years abroad, she read and studied voraciously, mastering French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti. She met with the American dissident leader Malcolm X in his visits to Ghana, and corresponded with him as his thinking evolved from the racially polarized thinking of his youth to the more inclusive vision of his maturity.

Maya Angelou returned to America in 1964, with the intention of helping Malcolm X build his new Organization of African American Unity. Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Malcolm X was assassinated, and his plans for a new organization died with him. Angelou involved herself in television production and remained active in the Civil Rights Movement, working more closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who requested that Angelou serve as Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. His assassination, falling on her birthday in 1968, left her devastated. With the guidance of her friend, the novelist James Baldwin, she found solace in writing, and began work on the book that would become I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The book tells the story of her life from her childhood in Arkansas to the birth of her child. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published in 1970 to widespread critical acclaim and enormous popular success.

Seemingly overnight, Angelou became a national figure. In the following years, books of her verse and the subsequent volumes of her autobiographical narrative won her a huge international audience. She was increasingly in demand as a teacher and lecturer and continued to explore dramatic forms as well. She wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the film Georgia, Georgia (1972). Her screenplay, the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Angelou was invited by successive Presidents of the United States to serve in various capacities. President Ford appointed her to the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and President Carter invited her to serve on the Presidential Commission for the International Year of the Woman. President Clinton requested that she compose a poem to read at his inauguration in 1993. Angelou's reading of her poem "On the Pulse of the Morning" was broadcast live around the world.

Since 1981, Angelou has served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has continued to appear on television and in films including Poetic Justice (1993) and the landmark television adaptation of Roots (1977). She directed numerous dramatic and documentary programs on television and directed a feature film,Down in the Delta, in 1996.

The list of her published works includes more than 30 titles. These include numerous volumes of verse, beginning with Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Die (1971). Books of her stories and essays include Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now (1993) and Even the Stars Look Lonesome(1997). She continued the compelling narrative of her life in the books Gather Together in My Name (1974), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), The Heart of a Woman (1981), All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes(1987) and A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002).

In 2000, Dr. Angelou was honored with the Presidential Medal of the Arts; she received the Ford's Theatre Lincoln Medal in 2008. The same year, she narrated the award-winning documentary film The Black Candle and published a book of guidance for young women, Letter to My Daughter. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded her the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Maya Angelou participated in a series of live broadcasts for Achievement Television in 1991, 1994 and 1997, taking questions submitted by students from across the United States. The interview with Maya Angelou on this web site has been condensed from these broadcasts.

Source: achievement.org

Topics: leader, mayaangelou, influence, poet

Are You the Best Leader You Can Be?

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Jan 31, 2014 @ 01:35 PM

“Nurses serve in a variety of professional leadership positions, from administrators and unit managers to chief nursing officers and hospital board members. Today, the challenges of leading in an increasingly complex health care environment are great; therefore, nurses need to take every opportunity to develop and hone their leadership qualities and skills. The question for every nurse—no matter the stage of her or his education or career—is: Are you the best leader you can be?” writes Sue Hassmiller, senior adviser for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, and Julie Truelove, student at the University of Virginia School of Nursing, in an article in the January 2014 issue of the American Journal of Nursing.

The article, “Are You the Best Leader You Can Be?,” discusses the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations on nursing leadership in the 2010 report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The recommendations call on the health care system to “prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health,” by developing leadership programs and providing increased opportunities to lead. The article features a table of nurse leadership programs for nursing students and professional nurses as well as a nursing leadership resource list.

Table: Leadership at Every Level -  Click here to view the full table. 

“Nurses with strong leadership and management skills are better prepared to serve individuals and their families and the community, and to collaborate with colleagues,” the authors write. Regardless of where you are in your career, “a leadership program is a step toward becoming the best leader you can be.”  Read the full article here.

Source: CampaignforAction.org 

Topics: Institute of Medicine, leader, report, nurse, leadership

Interview With University Hospitals CEO Tom Zenty: Diversity Leader, Innovator, Community Citizen

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 @ 01:12 PM

ceoDiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti recently interviewed Thomas F. Zenty III, CEO of the Cleveland-based hospital system. (University Hospitals is one of the 2012 DiversityInc Top 5 Hospital Systems.) Zenty discussed the dramatic impact of the Affordable Care Act and how the hospital’s diversity efforts in the workplace and the community are helping it survive.

Zenty spoke on this topic at DiversityInc’s event last month, Diversity-Management Best Practices From the Best of the Best. Click here for video of his talk.

Luke Visconti: What is the intersection of solid diversity-management initiatives and the reduction of healthcare disparities?

Thomas F. Zenty III: Many studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between people of diverse backgrounds being willing to seek care and knowing that people who look like them will actually be providing that care. So the intersection between diversity and disparities is rather significant. We want to make certain that we’re doing everything that we can to make sure that people of color will be able to work in our organization, hold positions of leadership—caregivers, clinicians and support staff—in order to make people of all backgrounds, colors and faiths feel comfortable coming to University Hospitals to receive the world-class care that we provide.

Visconti: How is diversity and inclusion a competitive differentiator for a hospital?

Zenty: There is no better way to gain the pulse of what’s happening in the communities that we serve than by having people who live and work in those communities actively engaged with us at every level. From an employee perspective, it’s critically important that we have people of diverse backgrounds who will bring skills, talents, perspective in order to help us to do a better job as we look to achieve our mission. We think it’s critically important for diversity to be well represented across our entire health system at every level, be it gender, religion, race, color. In fact, we’ve recently reached out to the Amish community because one of our hospitals has a very large Amish population, and we realized that we did not have a member of our board who was of Amish descent. As a result, we added a new Amish board member to our hospital, and he’s brought a lot in terms of a better understanding of the Amish community and the healthcare needs of that community.

The point is we need to look into the community to better understand who are the communities that we serve? Who best represents those individuals within those communities that we serve? And how can we engage them at every level, either as employees, as members of the board, as leadership-council members? And we want to make sure that we’re engaging everyone in the communities that we serve.

Visconti: You’re very personally involved in the community. Why?

Zenty: It’s critically important for an organization of our size in a community of this size, as the second-largest private employer in Northeast Ohio, to make certain that we’re going to be focused on diversity at every level within the communities that we serve. Our organizational values include excellence, diversity, integrity, compassion and teamwork. And diversity is one of the key components of the cornerstones of the work that we do every day in taking care of our patients and meeting our mission. As the leader of this organization, it’s critically important for us to be actively engaged in community activities to make certain that we’re not only aware of what’s happening in the community, but play a leadership role in advocating on behalf of many different agenda items. One of the key ones, though, is in the area of diversity in Northeast Ohio.

Visconti: University Hospitals has a 100 on the Corporate Equality Index, the Human Rights Campaign’s index of equality for LGBT people. Why is that important to you?

Zenty: The LGBT community is very important to us for all the other reasons that I stated in all the other populations that we serve. They’re very much a part of our community. We want to make certain that they’re recognized and represented. They have actually recognized us for our work in this regard, which we’re very pleased about.

Visconti: Your chief diversity officer reports directly to you. You also have hands-on interaction with people who are responsible for delivering results in diversity management. How important are these two things?

Zenty: It’s critically important that the chief diversity officer reports to the chief executive officer. Donnie Perkins is our chief diversity officer and does an excellent job in the role. However, it’s also important to note that we have a very close working relationship with Elliott Kellman, who is our chief human resources officer, because so much of what we do in workforce planning and workforce development is structured around the importance of diversity at every level in our organization.

In our organization, we selected the top 24 people from within our health system to be part of an education-and-training program in conjunction with Case Western Reserve School of Business. We’ve engaged 13 physicians and 11 non-physicians who were at senior levels in our organization who we feel have the potential to grow and develop in the years to come within University Hospitals’ health system. They were selected on the basis of their accomplishment. They were selected on the basis of diversity. They were selected on the basis of their ability to grow and develop within our organization. It’s an 18-month program, but we’ve seen great success thus far. One of those individuals has already been promoted to a new senior position that was recently created in our organization.

But at the other end of the spectrum, we’re also concerned that we don’t have enough people of color in our management ranks. So we put together a mentorship program, which will include people at the senior administrative level who will choose people who have promotional capability within our organization, who will be working with each of us to make sure that they will be given the opportunity to grow and develop within our organization in both non-management as well as in management roles, so that we can encourage more people of color to get actively engaged as supervisors, managers, directors, vice presidents.

Visconti: How are you holding your senior team accountable for diversity-and-inclusion results?

Zenty: Our senior team is very actively engaged with Donnie’s leadership in making certain that we are focused on diversity at every level within our organization, looking at the healthcare needs of the people who we serve, making certain that our employees are given equal opportunity for promotion and growth within our health system, making certain that people who are in middle management have opportunities to grow into senior-management roles, and making certain that we are focused on doing everything that we can to prepare the next generation of leader who will be people of color and of diverse backgrounds. Likewise, it’s important to mention that our board has been focused on diversity over the past many years. And I’m pleased to report that the Council on Economic Inclusion has awarded us for two years in a row recognition for the diversity of our board. If we receive it a third year in a row, we’ll go into the Hall of Fame, and we’re hoping that that will be achieved. This actually starts at the top, beginning with our board, and then filters throughout our entire organization.

Visconti: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing University Hospitals? And how does diversity and inclusion factor into the solution?

Zenty: The greatest challenge will be how to address the changes that we’ll be facing under healthcare reform. One of the key things that we will focus on in the area of diversity is to make certain that the 32 million more Americans who will now have access to healthcare insurance that didn’t have it before, that they will be well represented both within the communities that we serve as well as well represented in the patient populations that we care for. We have a number of very strong specialty clinics that will focus on the needs of specific elements within our population. But we want to make certain that as we see this influx of new patients arriving, we clearly understand what their needs will be—which is more than just episodic acute-care needs, but the continuum of care of services that we’ll be able to provide to them in the years to come.

Visconti: I found University Hospitals’ website to be exemplary in its ability to communicate your mission, your values, how diversity ties into all of this, your corporate citizenship, your engagement with the community. Why is it so important to communicate this?

Zenty: University Hospitals really wants to be a leader in the area of diversity. We’ve been in existence since 1866. We’ve been a very active and vibrant part of this community for that same period of time. And we want to make certain that we’re going to be leaders in the area of diversity—to set the example, to set the tone toward diligently making great things happen in the world of diversity, and to make certain that we’re going to focus not only on the needs of our patients, but also on the needs of those within our organization, to make certain that everyone will be able to realize their fullest potential.

Topics: leader, ceo, afforfable care act, diversity, hospital

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