CDO Spotlight - Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin

June 7, 2017

CDO Spotlight

 Andres E. Gonzalez, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer


Andres Gonzalez has worked in the non-profit sector for over 20 years. He has been instrumental in creating culturally and linguistically competent programs. He serves as the Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin located in Milwaukee, WI.  He provides direction to the Office of Diversity & Inclusion where he leads Diversity & Inclusion strategic initiatives that include:  Community Engagement, Diversity Action Teams (DATs), Diversity & Cultural Competence Education, Emerging Markets Initiative, Health Equity, Inclusion Advocates, Language Services, Leadership Development, Supplier Diversity and Talent Acquisition.

In his previous roles, Mr. Gonzalez served as the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Baystate Health in Springfield, MA from November 2012 to June 2015.  Prior to that he served as the Director, Diversity & Community Outreach and Interim Supplier Diversity Director at Cleveland Clinic Health System from February 2007 to October 2012. Mr. Gonzalez has worked in the community based sector providing leadership as Executive Director for Hispanic Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program (UMADAOP), a chemical dependency prevention, intervention and treatment agency from October 1994 to December 2004. He also led efforts as the Executive Director of El Barrio, a workforce development agency that serves the Hispanic/Latino community in the Near West Side of Cleveland from January 2005 to February 2007.

Mr. Gonzalez holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Cleveland State University and a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration on Community Agency Counseling from Cleveland State University. He also completed the certification program at Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations Department and earned a Cornell Certified Diversity Practitioner/Advanced Practitioner (CCDP/AP) certification.

Mr. Gonzalez serves on the national boards of the following organizations: American Heart/Stroke Association’s Diversity Leadership Committee and Health Equity Taskforce, member of the National Association for Latino Healthcare Executives (NALHE) and the American Leadership Council for Diversity in Healthcare (ALCDH). He also serves on the following local boards: Employ Milwaukee-the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB), Junior Achievement, La Causa, Inc., Nativity Jesuit Academy and Waukesha County Land Conservancy.

Mr. Gonzalez is a graduate of Cleveland Public Schools, a 2004 German Marshall Fund Fellow, an alumnus of: Esperanza (Cleveland, OH), Cleveland Bridge Builder’s Flagship Program, Leadership Cleveland and Next Generation Executive Leadership Program (The Partnership, Inc. based in Boston, MA).


What ignites me about the field?

As a diversity practitioner, I have an opportunity to influence, inform and collaborate with other strategic departments and leaders in building a cohesive strategy that weaves in diversity, inclusion and health equity for the health network as we strive in meeting the needs of our communities.


Name and type of organization and how long at organization:

Froedtert Health, is an integrated health network in southeastern Wisconsin.  I have been with the organization for 2 years.


Who does your position report to?

As the Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, I report to the Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer.


How many team members support the work?

The Office of Diversity & Inclusion is comprised of the Diversity & Inclusion Department and Languages Services Department.  Our D&I Department is made up of 4 caregivers and our Language Services Department is made up of 16 caregivers.


Discuss the top two priorities at your organization and what are you doing to contribute to those priorities?


Health Equity Pledge was signed by Froedtert Health on 12/1/2015 after presenting it and receiving approval by both the Diversity Council and Executive Cabinet.  As a result of the pledge, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion in partnership with the enterprise wide Chief Medical Officer, Chief HR Officer and Chief of Staff, we were collectively tasked to create a comprehensive health equity plan to address the pledge goals.

The Health Equity Pledge has been identified as a priority in our 5 yr. Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan.  The goals have been elevated for the organizational Strategic Plan as a key priority under our Population Health goal section.  Furthermore, the Health Equity Pledge and its goals are a standing agenda item at our Froedtert Health’s Diversity Council Meeting held quarterly and co-chaired by Cathy Jacobson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Froedtert Health and Dennis Pollard, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Froedtert Health.  As a result of our Senior Leadership commitment, we have been able to track, monitor and report on progress made for the goals. 


Ambulatory Network Strategy is a new enterprise wide initiative consisting of establishing 3 new health centers that will be providing culturally and linguistically competent care to diverse communities in southeastern Wisconsin.  The initiative consists the following:

  • Conducted community health needs and developed a community engagement plan
  • Culturally relevant marketing materials, media and events for the area
  • Interpretation and translation services / Bilingual signage
  • Recruitment and outreach efforts to attract diverse candidates to reflect patient population
  • Providing cultural competence education to all caregivers based on diverse communities served to ensure an exceptional patient experience


What are the top two challenges encountered in your role and how do you navigate those challenges?

Staying focused and disciplined – transforming the office of Diversity and inclusion into a center of excellence that provides support, guidance and consultancy enterprise wide.  Therefore, we have continued to create alignment to support the mission, vision, values and organization goals.


Bandwidth and resources – we continue to be intentional and strategic in establishing enterprise wide partnerships that will collectively allow us to make the greatest impact in the organization.  We strive to quantify and qualify a return on investment to the organization based on the metrics we are monitoring, tracking and reporting on.


Briefly discuss some of the future priorities you envision that CDO’s must be focused on and why?

Innovation – reshaping our thinking and approach to tackle complex issues that we confront in the healthcare field.  It will require innovative solutions and leveraging technological platforms to recruit caregivers as we strive to deliver care in a culturally and linguistically competent manner that meets the needs of the community.


Relevancy – ability and willingness to connect authentically with the communities we serve.  As a corporate citizen, we are faced with uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act’s future and its impact in our healthcare systems and communities at large. Therefore, we need to be pro-active in co-creating cost-effective solutions that address community needs and ultimately allow us to achieve community and economic vitality.


Respect in the workplace – ability to create an inclusive culture that establishes teamwork and mutual respect among all caregivers as we strive to provide an exceptional patient experience.


Workforce optimization – hiring, onboarding and developing the workforce for the future as we continue to strengthen our caregiver proposition and strive for an inclusive culture.  This will ultimately position the organization to be considered an employer of choice in their region.

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