Dr. Shellie Williams, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Section of Geriatrics & Palliative Medicine has been named as the recipient of the Department of Medicine’s 2020 Diversity Award. Dr. Williams has had a longstanding commitment and has made significant contributions to the cultural diversity in the health professions and in the reduction of health care disparities. Her work has had a sustained positive effect on the cultural climate impacting her patients, her trainees and mentees, in the Department of Medicine, South Side communities, and beyond.
Dr. Williams has been a member of the Department since 2007 where she has consistently been a strong teacher and advocate for older adults with dementia and their caregivers. Alzheimer’s Dementia is 2.5 times more prevalent in African Americans than among whites, with caregivers who are often under-resourced and without adequate training and support to care for their loved ones with cognitive issues. Over the past thirteen years Dr. Williams has worked tirelessly to address disparities in access to health care and education for this vulnerable population. Dr. Williams has been instrumental in tying University of Chicago Medicine to the surrounding community where she provides dementia education, awareness and resource content to Southside residents. Dr. Williams has been a role model for many throughout the COVID crisis and with increasing issues of injustice and racism that have provoked strong emotions throughout the University and City of Chicago.
Established in 2010, the Diversity Award is given to the faculty member who fosters diversity in the Department. Past winners (last 5 years) include: Drs. John Schneider, Jim Woodruff, Doriane Miller, Milda Saunders, and Kamala Cotts.