University Hospitals Names Celina Cunanan as Chief Diversity, Equity & Belonging Officer

Friday, September 02, 2022

Cunanan charged with enhancing culture and promoting a sense of belonging, a key aspect of UH’s strategic plan

Celina Cunanan, MSN, APRN-CNM, has been named University Hospitals’ new Chief Diversity, Equity & Belonging Officer. In her role, Cunanan will be charged with creating a system-wide strategy to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion.

“In collaboration with my executive leadership team, Cunanan will develop and champion implementation of strategies that promote a culture of equity and belonging internally within the organization, as well as in the many diverse communities that we serve throughout the region,” said University Hospitals CEO Cliff Megerian, MD, MD, FACS; Jane and Henry Meyer Chief Executive Officer Distinguished Chair. “To create a unique and differentiating culture based on ‘trust’, we must have a leader keenly focused on promoting a culture that values the contributions of our caregivers, patients and community members and who is committed to building an inclusive, encouraging, and caring environment where all can thrive.”

In her most recent roles as Director of the system’s Office of Community Impact, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and co-chair of its Social Justice & Equity committee, Cunanan made a tremendous impact by expanding UH's Food for Life Markets that provide food and nutrition advice to families suffering the health ramifications of living in food deserts, growing Cook Ross Bias Training, and initiating the Departmental Equity Officers program. Cunanan also helped advance the UH Health Scholars Program and UH’s Second Look program that increases the visibility of UH to underrepresented medical students.

Cunanan, in collaboration with other UH colleagues, is leading development of the UH Glenville Health Services Center that will house many health-focused programs and screenings. The Center will open at The Davis, a health and housing project in the underserved Glenville neighborhood in 2023.

“I'm humbled and honored to take on this Inaugural leadership role for UH, my organization that has been my home and supported me as a clinician leader of color for the past 21 years.  This investment in my role and office shows UH's commitment to prioritizing health equity and a culture of belonging for all both inside our organization and in our surrounding communities.  I look forward to continuing to grow and develop our programs, strategies, and partnerships to support the overall well-being of all that we service,” said Cunanan.

Cunanan is an experienced clinician leader within UH. She was the inaugural Division Director for Nurse-Midwifery in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology from 2007 through June 2022, and System Chief for Nurse-Midwifery since 2017. In response to Cleveland’s high preterm birth and infant mortality rates, she helped initiate the Centering Pregnancy model of care, and served as Medical Director. The UH Centering program is recognized as one of the largest and most innovative programs nationwide and has been designated as Centering Healthcare Institute’s Midwest Regional Leadership Partner. She addressed the issue of sleep-related infant deaths by co-founding the non-profit Babies Need Boxes Ohio. She serves on the executive board for First Year Cleveland, and the Ohio Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review Committee, and was appointed to the Ohio Minority Health Commission by Governor Mike DeWine in 2020. 

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