Ford leaving UNMC to lead Center for Human Diversity

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Valda Boyd Ford

When Valda Boyd Ford was appointed director of the UNMC Community and Multicultural Affairs Department in 2001, she brought with her a small, little-known diversity planning entity called the Center for Human Diversity (CHD).

Today, in no small measure due to Ford’s national and international stature as a speaker and diversity consultant, the CHD is a global resource center for diversity research, management and education.

Because of the increasing growth of the CHD and the recent realignment of the Community Partnership, Ford has decided to resign from her position at UNMC and work full-time for the CHD.

“The timing is right,” Ford said. “I’ve been wanting to focus more of my energy on the Center for Human Diversity, but never was able to do so because of all my duties at UNMC. With the department realignment, it’s a perfect opportunity to make this career change. This is my time to take my dream and move it from the shadows and into the light.”

In her full-time role with the CHD, Ford will have more time to devote to an event that she feels passionately about — the Heart and Soul Red Dress Dinner and Seminar, based on the National Institutes of Health’s national program to encourage cardiovascular health awareness among American women.

On April 11, the Omaha event was attended by more than 600 people — thanks in large part to Ford soliciting sponsorship funds that allowed 400 women to attend for free.

“The sponsor support allowed us to reach those women most at risk for heart disease, least likely to have solid relationships with health care providers, and less likely to be able to afford the cost of the dinner or transportation,” Ford said. “We really want to build on this success in future years and capitalize on the energy generated by the participants — especially those who committed to improving their lives by concentrating on simple strategies for better health.

“The CHD provides the platform needed for me and others to make things happen in the fight against disparities in health, educational and business outcomes. My work through the CHD will enable me to create the kinds of initiatives that are more collaborative and flexible.”

Ford, who plans to continue to live in Omaha, looks back on her time at UNMC with fond memories.

“I have been with UNMC in some capacity for nearly seven years,” she said. “My time here has been filled with many opportunities and challenges. I was very fortunate to come on board when a number of outstanding community initiatives were already in place and to help them develop, as well as help create new programs that further enhanced UNMC’s reputation for community activism and fighting minority health disparities.”

“Valda has contributed significantly to our efforts to address health care disparities and in promoting cultural competence and diversity at UNMC,” said Ward Chambers, M.D., former executive director of Community Partnership and current interim coordinator of programs in International Health. “I am sure she will be successful in advancing the Center for Human Diversity. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

Ford has a number of upcoming speaking engagements that will help her showcase the CHD over the next several months. These include:

  • June — The Society for Human Resource Management Conference and Exposition, Las Vegas.
  • July — The Seventh International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • October — The International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference and Exposition, New Orleans.

Some of Ford’s numerous honors and achievements include being named one of three Nebraska Women of Distinction in 2006, being appointed to the National Institutes of Health Director’s Council of Public Representatives in 2005, completing the Health Partners Fellowship Program sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2004, being named International Volunteer of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year in 2005 by Unite For Sight for her work with refugees and for developing church-based screenings to educate the public about glaucoma.

“There are so many great things happening now at UNMC with the new buildings being constructed, the College of Public Health being established and the outstanding additions to the faculty,” Ford said. “Life is about change and advancement. I am looking forward to achieving even higher goals and proudly carrying my association with UNMC and Nebraska right along with me.”