As the inaugural Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Culture at UCSF’s Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, Leah Pimentel MBA ’10 is grateful for the lasting and profound impact her Dominican University of California graduate experiences have had on career.
“Dominican helped me rediscover my purpose and accelerated my learning. I brought a different and unique perspective to the classroom and enriched the diversity of thought. Engaging intellectually and emotionally with diverse peers through meaningful conversations in the Dominican MBA program was profoundly impactful to my career,” Leah says. “The lesson being, every background and experience is useful in business, and that there is nothing more valuable than the diversity of thought.
“The best part of my job is the fact that I get to make a difference every single day, being the Director of DEI and Culture is meaningful work that truly transforms people and departments. I truly believe that the work I do helps leaders, teams, departments and the University.”
Like Dominican, UCSF is a diverse community comprised of people with many skills and talents. Leah is working in alignment with the University’s PRIDE values and the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care’s goal to further the Department’s mission by leading cultural and operational change to build an environment where people representing diverse backgrounds can authentically thrive and contribute to the department’s mission. She is responsible for creating the most inclusive workplace possible.
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“I will embrace my passion for creativity, DEI and culture to transform and empower others,” Leah says. “Utilizing innovation, I will develop and implement a creative and comprehensive suite of programs, events, and resources that will support and enhance employee culture in areas of DEI, well-being, development, recruitment, and retention.”
Leah, a 2022 recipient of the Healthcare DEI Champions Award as part of the Health Equity and Leadership Conference, has made a great first impression. She was appointed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed to the Human Rights Commission to advocate for human and civil rights, and works in service of the City’s anti-discrimination laws to further racial solidarity, equity, and healing.
In addition, Leah was also named the co-director for Differences Matter: Build Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression Expertise by UCSF’s Office of the Executive Vice Dean. Differences Matter is a multi-year, multi-faceted School of Medicine initiative to make UCSF the most diverse, equitable, and inclusive academic medical system in the country. Over the next two years, Leah will play a pivotal role in identifying the competencies and training that UCSF’s faculty, staff, leaders, and learners need to build a more equitable and inclusive institution.
When Leah came to Dominican and the Barowsky School of Business, she sought to have a “voice and face” on campus. That voice and face wound up on ABC’s “Good Morning America” when Leah and her husband, Victor, appeared on a GMA segment during the inaugural Oasis of the Seas’ trip in 2010. Leah was one of three people from San Francisco selected as a “Good Morning America” community hero. She and similar GMA heroes in four other cities in the country were flown to Miami as part of the “Get Away With GMA” contest and cruise.
Twelve years later, Leah does consider herself a hero, and her community work and outreach in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point to advance economic and environmental justice through renewable energy is still considered heroic in her neighborhood.
“I’ve been an advocate and ally for over 15 years, and inspiration can be a beautiful thing,” Leah says. “There are many ways to inspire the people around me; bringing positivity into any situation, increasing my knowledge and sharing helpful information that could inspire other people, encouraging others by believing in them and pointing out their gifts and strengths. It's amazing how much of an effect this can have on the lives of other people.”
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Leah realized that at Dominican. She was among a group of individuals that wanted to make a difference in communities, businesses, and the world. The small class sizes at Dominican, she says, fostered a highly-collaborative culture that gave its MBA students the freedom to think boldly, focus on cultivating strong relations and create an inclusive future.
“By far the best thing about Dominican is the atmosphere. By its very nature, it inspires academic success involvement in research to examine and addressing great societal challenges,” Leah says. “My professors taught me to see societal challenges from different lenses and perspectives. By understanding various views, I am able to connect with various populations and inspire a journey of learning to bring about positive change.”
Her Dominican experience helped enrich her values and shape her career path. Leah, named one of the most influential women in business in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times, was prepared and proud to bring that experience to her new role at UCSF.
“Students thrive when they see themselves in the classroom and to be able to relate to their teacher. To help all students achieve their fullest potential, Dominican invested in systems that support and empower teachers. Dominican is a melting pot, with rich opportunities for cultural value,” Leah says. “Throughout my career I have worked in partnership with special interest groups, businesses, stakeholders, community leaders and community organizations to implement and refine efforts to diversify the workforce. Representation matters. In my current role, I serve as the first African American women to serve on the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care’s leadership team. I think it’s powerful for people of a minority race to be represented in leadership to really show a message that everybody has a place in this department, university and world.”