Dr. Helms to Serve as Vice Chair of Diversity and Inclusion

May 16, 2022

Dr. Jill Helms will serve as the new Vice Chair of Diversity and Inclusion for Stanford Department of Surgery.

“[Dr. Helms] has been a very active member of the JEDI committee as well as the innovation committee. She has a long-standing passion for recruiting and mentoring young students into the STEM field with her STaRS Internship Program,” said Department Chair Dr. Mary Hawn in her announcement. “I know she will bring her passion and creativity to this role and lead our efforts to continue to make Stanford Surgery a great place to belong to.”

Dr. Helms says her interest in DEI began decades ago when she “saw a pipeline full of talented young women and people of color in my classes, yet years later, rarely saw them in positions of leadership.”

Dr. Helms founded the Science Technology and Reconstructive Surgery (STaRS) Internship program, a no-cost program specifically geared towards introducing under-represented minority students to biomedical research.

“I believe [DEI] is essential for our long-term success as a Department, as a School, and as an Institution,” said Dr. Helms. “I'm honored to play a part in this DEI initiative in Surgery, and I firmly believe that with the support of Chair Mary Hawn, our JEDI council, and the members of our department, our program will one day set a standard for advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within our Nation’s medical institutions.”

After six and a half years of serving at the Department’s inaugural Vice Chair of Professional Development and Diversity, Dr. Sherry Wren and Dr. Hawn decided it was best to split the role.

“I have been honored to serve the department as the Vice Chair of Diversity and Faculty Development for the last 6.5 years and am proud of all of the work the JEDI council has done,” said Dr. Wren. The combined role is too large if the department is going to be a leader in both domains.”

Dr. Wren says she has not been satisfied with the amount of time she’s been able to devote to faculty development issues over the past three years especially as the department has expanded and the pandemic presented new challenges. She says she looks forward to working with the new assistant and associate professors more closely and is planning a Junior Faculty Development retreat for this coming fall.

“I remain committed and will continue to support the JEDI council” said Dr. Wren. “I also believe strongly that diversity in leadership is important and bringing Dr. Helms on in this dedicated role will offer a new perspective on DEI issues which can only advance our progress.”