In 1992, Dr. Winfred Williams, a nephrologist and transplantation physician, founded the Office for Minority Health Professions, becoming its first Director, to address the issue of increasing the number of trainees underrepresented in medicine (“URM”) in the Department of Medicine (“DOM”) of Massachusetts General Hospital (“MGH”). Although the initial focus was on Internal Medicine residency recruitment, in 1999, three part-time faculty across departments – Medicine/GI, Dermatology and Pediatrics – joined the staff as Associate Directors and the office was renamed the Multicultural Affairs Office (“MAO.”) In 2000, with the vision of then President James Mongan, MD (currently Partners Healthcare, Inc. President) and Allison Rimm, then Director of the Office of the President (currently Vice President for Strategic Planning and Information Systems), MAO evolved into a Hospital and community-wide resource. The President’s Office hired Elena Olson, an attorney with background in social justice and civil litigation, as a full-time Administrative Director to help Dr. Williams lead the daily management and operations of MAO. In order to address the needs of our URM residents and fellows, a new position of manager of trainee affairs was created. In addition, MAO hired a program coordinator to coordinate the programs run by MAO, and a program director for multicultural education to create and lead the hospital’s cultural competency curriculum for physicians.
In 2006, as the result of a new Hospital-wide Diversity Committee strategic plan which was led by MGH President Peter Slavin, MAO was restructured once again to better reflect its evolution and expanded initiatives with URM medical students, trainees and faculty in all departments of the Hospital and the Mass General Physicians Organization. As part of this restructuring, a multi-disciplinary advisory board, co-chaired by Drs. Williams and Slavin, was created to provide advice and assistance with the strategic direction of the office. The MAO Advisory Board is comprised of chiefs of service, hospital and MGPO leadership, trustees, an HMS Dean, as well as senior underrepresented minority faculty and trainees. Currently, MAO’s staff has grown to include a full-time Executive Director, as well as 2 full-time administrative staff, including a program manager and a staff assistant. MAO’s part-time physician staff continues to include a manager of trainee affairs, a program director for multicultural education, as well as 3 Associate Directors who are intricately involved in MAO's initiatives.