Spectrum Health’s Valissa Armstead Receives YWCA Tribute Award

Director of diversity, equality & inclusion receives award for Business, Management, Industry and Labor

Courtesy of Kawan Mills

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Nov. 20, 2019 – The YWCA West Central Michigan has honored seven women for their work in the community through its annual Tribute Awards.

Valissa Armstead, 49, a native of Flint, is director of diversity, equity & inclusion at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. She received the Tribute Award for Business, Management, Industry and Labor.

“Valissa has proven to be an innovator, relationship builder, change agent and influencer for diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Ovell Barbee, senior vice president and diversity officer, Spectrum Health. “She is a true expert and continuously seeks to gain knowledge and build her business acumen as she expands DEI efforts across Spectrum Health System and our community.”

Armstead has helped to launch employee-led inclusion resource groups (IRGs) formed around common demographics, characteristics or shared interests. The IRGs focus on culture, commerce, career and community that lead to business results. Currently, there are eight IRGs at Spectrum Health: African American, Asian American, Hispanic and Latinx, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, veterans, women’s, and young professionals.

In Armstead’s four years at Spectrum Health, her leadership has influenced the signing of the #123forEquity pledge and Talent 2025 CEO Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by the Spectrum Health senior leadership team.

The #123forEquity pledge builds on the efforts of the National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities. It asks hospital and health system leaders to accelerate progress in the collection of socio-demographic data, to increase cultural competency training, to increase diversity in leadership and governance and to strengthen community partnerships.

The Talent 2025 CEO Commitment ensures employers are taking steps to include diversity and inclusion in their talent attraction, development, and advancement strategies.

“We’ve learned that we have a unique opportunity in health care to engage in inclusion and diversity strategies that truly do contribute to our mission to improve health, inspire hope and save lives. Disparities in health annually cost the United States upwards of $135 billion,” Armstead said. “We are looking at the disparities in our communities, in both our patient populations and our workforce. We identify what barriers exist and ask, ‘how do we address those barriers?’”

The values of a healthy lifestyle, faith and community building are apparent in Armstead’s personal life and community involvement. She is a board member of the Kingdom Life Ministries Community Development Corporation, where she assists with grant writing and program development supporting self-sufficiency for families. Through the Deborah Project, she facilitates employability skills training for single mothers and additional support in overcoming the challenges of raising children alone.

The Tribute Award honors women in the categories of Advocacy, Arts, Business, Management, Industry and Labor, Community Service, Professions, Sports, Fitness and Wellness and a Student Honoree who is also the recipient of the YWCA Judy Lloyd Scholarship. To date, the YWCA has honored more than 250 women through the annual awards since 1977.



Tim Hawkins
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