“We need to meet health care professionals where they are, determine where they want to be, and use education to fill that gap,”
Since 2001, Michelle Boyd has accomplished just that. As Director of Health Careers, Diversity & Quality Education at Charlotte AHEC, Michelle directs a team of individuals that conduct needs assessments, provide the appropriate programming for health care professionals, and work to expose students to careers in health care with a focus on underrepresented minorities and economically and educationally disadvantaged populations.
“We also equip those that are currently in health care positions to receive this influx of awesome, amazing students that will be entering their workplace,” Michelle said. “They have different backgrounds, they may look different, and they may approach their work differently. Not only do we prepare the future of our workforce, but we also prepare the current workforce through our diversity programming.”
Michelle begins each day at work with a huddle with her team.
“We share what’s going well and where we need to focus our attention for that day. We plan for upcoming programs and educational needs, especially as it relates to our workforce.”
The rest of Michelle’s meetings can include a statewide committee with the North Carolina Alliance for Health Professionals Diversity, led by Jacqueline Wynn, Program Office Director of Health Careers, Workforce Diversity, and Inclusion, and Dr. Peggy Valentine, Interim Chancellor at Fayetteville State University, or a committee she serves on within the NC Institute of Medicine. Michelle also works close to home in Atrium Health on the steering committee of the African American Women’s Employee Resource Group.
“Our group is composed of 2,400 African American women, and I lead professional development for the group,” Michelle shared. “We just won Atrium Health’s System Resource Group of the Year Award, so we’re very, very proud of that.”
Throughout the day and into the evening, Michelle keeps in touch with parents, students, and community organizations that participate in Charlotte AHEC’s health careers programs.
“There is one student in particular who just finished our AHEC Scholars program who texts me from time to time just to let me know how she’s doing,” Michelle said. “She’s now planning to apply to graduate school, and I’m so excited.”
A wife and mom of two daughters and a graduate of the University of South Carolina and North Carolina A&T State University, Michelle also enjoys serving on the Board of Directors for Tri It for Life, Inc., a nonprofit mentorship organization for women who are preparing to compete in their first triathlon.
“I completed my first triathlon in 2018,” Michelle shared. “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”
In September, Michelle was recognized as one of Diversity MBA Magazine’s Top 100 Under 50 Executive and Emerging Leaders in the United States. She was nominated by Atrium Health for her work in diversity, equity, and inclusion. She accepted her award during the 14th Annual National Business Leaders Virtual Conference & Awards Gala.
“I am humbled and honored to have received this award for doing what I love,” she said. “Fighting to level the playing field for vulnerable populations is my calling, and I am happy to answer it each and every time.”
As protests unfolded in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Michelle served as one of the panelists in Atrium Health’s Courageous Conversations series and worked on teams to provide statements of solidarity for the NC AHEC Program Office, Charlotte AHEC, and Teen Health Connection, where she serves on the board of directors.
“In the spring, we are planning a program for professionals who want to discuss the social injustice and civil unrest that’s going on, but who don’t say anything because they don’t know what to say. We believe that this class will help us at least have a dialogue,” Michelle said. “That’s where AHEC is uniquely positioned to provide the education that allows health care professionals to do what they do, and to do it better.”
“There are so many different dimensions of diversity,” she added. “And it’s not just your skin color—it’s all the ways that we are different. We place a focus on that for our students so they don’t forget about those populations that need health care the most.”
In her nearly 20-year career, Michelle has reached over 50,000 students and won a National AHEC award for her Parents of AHEC program, which supports students participating in Charlotte AHEC’s Health Careers programs.
One of her students is”currently completing her undergraduate degree at North Carolina A&T University, Michelle’s alma mater. She participated in Charlotte AHEC’s programming when she was in middle and high school, where she attended the annual Future Leaders in Healthcare Conference.
“I made the students dress up. I would critique them and make sure they were wearing appropriate business attire,” she said. “We would also do mock interviews through the health careers club.”
When it came time for Michelle’s student to interview for acceptance into the Brody School of Medicine, she called upon what she had learned from her time with Charlotte AHEC.
“She told me, ‘Miss Boyd, you would not believe how many people were not dressed up. I knew what to wear, and I knew how to interview well.'”
Michelle’s student was selected for guaranteed acceptance into the Brody School of Medicine upon completion of her graduate degree.
“I took this job not for the money, the glitz, the fame—I took it because of the lives we touch,” Michelle said. “I’ve got to feed my soul.”
To learn more about health careers and workforce diversity & inclusion programming at Charlotte AHEC, visit charlotteahec.org.