Spectrum Health System

Spectrum Health Marks Cultural Shift While Naming Diversity Officer

Ovell Barbee to lead Spectrum Health’s nationally-recognized diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, as well as workforce initiatives and talent acquisition

January 17, 2019

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Jan. 17, 2019 – Spectrum Health is pleased to announce Ovell Barbee, senior vice president, human resources, as the health care system’s new diversity officer. This announcement comes as Spectrum Health recognizes positive changes to organizational culture.

Over the past 10 years, Spectrum Health has achieved and been recognized for significant culture improvements with the help of their Inclusion and Diversity department. Enhancements to organizational culture have focused on inclusion, raising awareness about unconscious bias and putting people first.

“We are proud to continue to support our already nationally-recognized program by designating a systemwide diversity officer,” said Pamela Ries, chief human resources officer. “Ovell brings a unique skillset and professional background that will continue our innovative work in inclusion and diversity. We are excited Ovell has accepted this additional responsibility.”

Spectrum Health’s culture work acknowledges that individuals want to be known, heard and empowered. With President & CEO Tina Freese Decker leading by example, leaders are encouraged to be vulnerable at times, share personal stories, provide context for decisions and communicate as transparently as possible. Listening has become a cultural norm both formally and informally. Quarterly pulse surveys and listening tours create opportunities to know what is on people’s minds, hear what is most important to them and empower leaders to be more nimble as they make cultural improvements.

As Spectrum Health continues to grow to over 30,000 team members and invest in its culture and community, the diversity officer role is seen as an important next step for the organization. Barbee will lead Spectrum Health’s inclusion and diversity efforts to ensure the recruitment, attraction and development of talent. He also will continue work to foster an environment that is welcoming and respectful for all, while leading talent acquisition and employee relations for the organization.

“Spectrum Health has taken deliberate steps to foster an environment that is inclusive, equitable and representative of our communities,” said Barbee. “I applaud the current and previous leaders who conducted needs assessments and developed the foundation on which we now move forward. I look forward to building upon those successes to ensure we are providing a welcoming environment for our patients, members and colleagues.”

Barbee is looking forward to championing Spectrum Health’s strategic initiative on workforce diversity as well as the Inclusion Resource Groups (IRGs), which are employee-led affinity groups:

Each IRG is sponsored by a senior executive who provides guidance and advocacy for the group.

A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Barbee joined Spectrum Health in 2016 leading two centers of expertise within the human resources department. He has an extensive and broad human resources background, previously serving as human resources leader of two start-up organizations established by Fortune 50 companies and in human resource leadership positions at Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, OnStar, General Motors and Canadian National Railway. Barbee earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and a master’s degree in human resources and labor management from Michigan State University. He is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by The HR Certification Institute and holds the Society of HR Managers’ Senior Certified Professional (SHRM – SCP) certification. Barbee was previously named one of the “Top 50 Executives in the Country Under the Age of 50” by the National Black MBA Association.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system that provides care and coverage, comprising 31,000+ team members, 14 hospitals (including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital), a robust network of care facilities, teams of nationally recognized doctors and providers, and the nation’s third-largest provider-sponsored health plan, Priority Health, currently serving over 1 million members across the state of Michigan. People are at the heart of everything we do. Locally governed and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we are focused on our mission: to improve health, inspire hope and save lives. Spectrum Health has a legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Through experience, innovation and collaboration, we are reimagining a better, more equitable model of health and wellness.

Rick Jensen
Media Relations
Office: 616.391.5291
Mobile: 616.706.2608
Email: richard.jensen@spectrumhealth.org