by Devon Christianson, Envision board member

“Have the tough conversations; stretch toward what seems out of reach.” That’s the advice of
Prevea Health’s new Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Renita Robinson. You might
remember this visionary change agent as the Chief Executive Officer of the YWCA of Greater
Green Bay. She’s moved into healthcare leadership at this critical “COVID moment,” helping
Prevea learn what it can from tough times and shape the best possible future for itself and the

“We ground everything in our mission: to care for people with pride, passion and respect.
Our vision is to be the best place to get and give care,” she explained. “From there we look at
data and trends. The data is screaming at us, and it doesn’t lie.” One thing the data tells
Robinson is that businesses that are more diverse are more profitable. “The staff is happier, the
bottom line is healthier, and the organization thrives,” she explained. Hospitals are no different,
she said. A key component of caring well for patients is having input from people of diverse
cultures and experiences inform your thinking and practices.

“The pandemic has taught us to pivot,” Robinson said, “to be innovative, to create new
partnerships so we can hear the voices that have been ignored for too long.” Having spent 30+
years in various roles serving women, children and students, she has seen the conversation
change in Green Bay. “When I came here a few years ago, I thought the Green Bay Packers
were 20 years ahead of their time and the community was 20 years behind. But I did see
growing momentum for conversations about how racial inequality was impacting our

According to Renita, this is a time of many hopeful opportunities. Many social service
organizations and healthcare systems are connecting around health equity concerns. With the
onslaught of COVID-19, Prevea made forward facing decisions by creating a nationally
recognized community vaccination clinic on the campus of UWGB. And they had to find ways to
take the vaccine on the road. They needed to mobilize human resources, sharpen processes,
and reach marginalized populations to increase access to immunizations.

The combination of racial tensions and health disparities uncovered during the pandemic
created good conditions for change. Robinson says Prevea and its executive team had been in
discussions for some time about holding themselves accountable to their commitment
regarding inclusion and health equity. They created this new full time vice president position at
a level in the organization that could impact change on a broad scale and have real influence at
the policy level.

“You can’t be on the opposite side of change for very long if you want to survive,” she
explained. Prevea understands that the future of good medicine will involve an integrated
approach by which the social determinants of health are incorporated into primary care. Renita
pointed out that Prevea is using education to prepare future physicians and social workers to
support health fields for changing demographics. These include offering internships and
incorporating health equity modules into its family medicine residency curriculum. Specifically:

• Health Disparity Prevention Internships at Prevea
• Formal health equity content in its standard residency curriculum
• Updating recruitment and hiring practices to attract racially diverse professionals for
vital roles in healthcare
• Development of new, unexpected partnerships with industries outside of healthcare to
broaden Prevea’s reach and thinking
• Agency-wide Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) training

There is a business case to be made for bringing and keeping diverse people in our community,
Robinson says. More diverse businesses are more likely to thrive. If we don’t move in this
direction, all of our community will suffer. We must attract the talent we need and be
competitive, or we will not be prepared for the next pandemic – or other life-altering change –
that is around the corner.

Through collaborations with longstanding community efforts, Prevea is positioned now to set
the stage for impact on social determinants of health and a needed redress of health equity in
Wisconsin. In this role, Renita brings to Prevea a history of dedication to education and training
on a variety of social justice subjects. She is a qualified administrator of the IDI; is a certified
ToP Facilitator; has worked as a licensed graduate social worker (LGSW) and a teacher of
English and social studies, and she’s helped secondary school systems and university
departments develop curriculum, policy and programs to address equity issues and the needs
of marginalized populations. She’s been an NCAA National Champion, an Olympic Trials
Exhibition winner, named a Co-Teacher of the Year by Boston’s Anti-Defamation League, and is
now a Minnesota Doctoral Candidate in Teaching and Learning. Robinson is a mother and
grandmother and is excited to be at Prevea for such a time as this!