Corporate Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for RWJBarnabas Health
Trina Parks ’96 attributes a portion of her success to living on campus and getting involved in internships while at Montclair State University. She currently serves as the Corporate Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for RWJBarnabas Health, Office of the President. In her role, Ms. Parks is responsible for corporate diversity and inclusion efforts including but not limited to Trustee and leadership engagement, employee optimization, supplier inclusion, diverse community partnerships, cultural competency development, health equity, and population health management. These efforts include the creation of the operational plan with defined mission driven strategy, business goals, and measurable outcomes for system-wide implementation and expansion of diversity and inclusion.
During her time at Montclair State, Parks had the opportunity to go to Essex County Hospital Center located in Cedar Grove, NJ to journal and interview psychiatric patients. “It was a life changing experience. It helped me realize that because of the stigma associated with mental illness, it was not viewed in the same light as other disciplines of healthcare. At that time the hospital had a decrepit infrastructure and didn’t seem like a place I would want to go to for recovery. I didn’t know how I would do it but I knew I needed to be a voice to affect change. ” says Parks.
In December 2006, a new state-of-the art hospital was built to replace the old hospital and Parks was a guest at the grand opening celebration. Parks notes that the experience inspired her to provide equity of care for behavioral health patients and their families. After her experience at the psychiatric hospital, she began to intern at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center located in Newark, NJ working in the hospital’s Therapeutic Learning Center with children and at the adult Partial Care Program.
Immediately after graduation, she was offered a position and worked there for 10 years. She notes that the internship was vital for her to network and build relationships that would help her move forward in her career. She says, “In my current role, it is really about making sure diversity and inclusion is a priority throughout all aspects of the business. It’s about being purposeful and mindful that all efforts of inclusion are a necessity. I want to make sure diverse groups of people are invited to sit around the table and have a voice [in their healthcare]. I don’t want it to be looked upon as an initiative but built into our organizational DNA.”
Parks is currently developing cultural competency training to reflect the communities served so everyone that walks into the doors of the hospitals is treated with respect and dignity and their needs are considered. “It’s more than just making you better; we have to know what you require to treat you. It’s imperative to treat the whole person’s overall health which includes social and mental health as well.” Parks says.
Parks was also involved with the Educational Opportunity Fund Program (EOF) while at Montclair State University. She notes that through this program, she had great counselors and people that kept her on track.
She says, “Montclair State University is where it all started for me. Some people may say they didn’t have defining moments in college, but for me, it really directed me towards the career path that I wanted to do and have worked for the last twenty years.”