Dawn Defraites & Stcy Grundy

Kenniebrew, McNeese awards celebrate champions of equity, inclusion

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Each February, SIU Medicine hosts the Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew, MD Forum, Lecture and Conference, an annual discussion of health disparities and other factors that impact population health. It commemorates the life of a ground-breaking central Illinois physician.

During the 2024 Kenniebrew Lecture on February 8, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Wendi El-Amin presented awards to honor individuals and a group who continue the challenging work Dr. Kenniebrew modeled, promoting inclusive excellence and equitable practices.

In addition to the Kenniebrew Equity Awards, this year a new award was announced that honors the forum's founder, Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese. Dr. McNeese was SIU’s first associate dean of equity and diversity. He passed away in September 2023. 

Background of honorees

Dawn DeFraties, the founder and executive director of SIU School of Medicine’s Office of Correctional Medicine, received the Kenniebrew Equity Award (pictured above, left).

In 2019, DeFraties began work on a pilot program with the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to help improve the quality of health care to individuals who are incarcerated within state facilities. This program led to a multimillion-dollar contract with IDOC and creation of SIU’s Office of Correctional Medicine (OCM). 

The team’s mission is to provide trusted and quality consultation to correctional health care partners and assure ethical, equitable and respectful services to its partners, stakeholders, clients and patients. 

The OCM has sponsored an anti-racism training series at SIU Medicine to extend its mission and values, and Defraties has engaged learners and colleagues alike, teaching student electives on correctional medicine and developing partnerships with the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. 

She has also been instrumental in helping IDOC in key areas that improved their response to COVID and adverse event reporting. Over the past five years, Defraties’ dedication to serving this underrepresented, vulnerable population has been remarkable and unwavering, ensuring that individuals in correctional facilities are treated with dignity, respect and evidence-based care.

Stacy Grundy, DrPH, co-owner and co-chief executive officer of the Route History Museum, also received the Kenniebrew Equity Award. She is also director of strategic partnerships and initiatives at LathanHarris, Inc. (pictured above, right).

Dr. Grundy had served as the director of health initiatives at Springfield Urban League (SUL) beginning in 2015, as the state entered a two-year budget crisis. She coordinated a system of care that ensured every child in the SUL Early Head Start program received annual physical and behavioral health examinations, screenings and access to specialty and follow-up care services.

In 2020, Dr. Grundy developed and directed SIU Medicine’s COVID 19 Pandemic Health Worker Program for the 66-county region, collaborating extensively with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and various community-based organizations to deploy teams of health workers and telehealth services, addressing needs and dismantling barriers that hindered access to care and services.

Combining the nation’s interest in Route 66 history with a quest for equity, the Route History Museum holds the distinction of being the sole museum in the United States showcasing the significance of the Black experience along the Mother Road. With Grundy’s inspiration and perseverance, this broader perspective will be included in the Illinois celebration of Route 66 going forward.

Family Medicine Clinic- Springfield

SIU’s Department of Family and Community Medicine (FCM) received the inaugural Dr. Wesley G. Robinson-McNeese Award for its emphasis on diversity workplace education, innovative projects to improve intercultural competency, and fostering a psychologically safe environment where all individuals are able to thrive.

Dr. Janet Albers is the chair of FCM, and has led its phenomenal efforts for the past 10 years. The department is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), which serves as a safety net for our community’s most vulnerable individuals. Its teams collaborate to make certain everyone is able to receive high quality care regardless of their economic situation.

In 2022, FCM developed the region’s first Gender Equity Clinic, located in Springfield. It highlights SIU’s commitment to listening and partnering to ensure members of the community can have a safe place to receive medical care. Providers use best practices, consideration and empathy to engage members of the LGBTQ community.

View photos from the Kenniebrew events on Zenfolio

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