By Emily Hamilton | AC JosepH Media
EGG HARBOR CITY — Christian Ragland, assistant vice President of Diversity, equity and inclusion, works to promote a culture of inclusion which enables individuals from all backgrounds to thrive at AtlantiCare.
Growing up in Egg Harbor City, Ragland credits his current position being pushed by an early desire for leadership roles and his aunt, Sister Jean Webster who fed Atlantic City’s homeless population for years.
Ragland has worked within the community and AtlantiCare to generate and implement diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices across a spectrum of departments.
“When you bring differences into a collaborative, cohesive environment, you can take on bigger issues. I’ve seen and learned that we can do more together than apart,” Ragland said.
It is this vision and lesson from a young age melded with his drive for leadership that has propelled Ragland to effectively implement direction and ideas within AtlantiCare.
Community is an important part of AtlantiCare which is what drives Ragland’s two leading impactful missions of creating positive employee journeys and creating a system to identify inequities to bring solutions to them.
In his role as assistant vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion is meant to work in different capacities to ensure that all three standards and more are being meant within the AtlantiCare system.
“I collaborate with AtlantiCare leadership to ensure our DEI objectives are cohesive with other programs, and that the objectives support our vision of building healthy communities together,” Ragland said.
“To assure this, colleagues from throughout AtlantiCare continuously collaborate to plan and implement meaningful programs, activities and partnerships.”
It’s important that these standards are met and practiced so that staff and providers can effectively work in a positive environment that allows them to grow.
Equally important is that Ragland works on this system of inclusion even outside of AtlantiCare and into the community because their impact and support matters just the same as well.
“I work with other leaders to ensure our community members can also feel welcome and be their authentic selves when they or their loved ones are in our care. I also work with our team to create opportunities to identify, solve for, and prevent healthcare disparities that can impact their access to care. AtlantiCare’s goal is to ensure everyone has the ability and motivation to access quality care,” Ragland said.
Another community project that Ragland created was the Egg Harbor City Community School Leadership Academy to give back to the community that helped shape and build him into the person he is today.
The focus is to highlight and discuss the different principles of leadership and engage students in learning opportunities through field trips. Although it was originally started as a boy’s leadership program, Ragland is now working to have it open for all students.
“The group selects 14 boys for a program based on leadership qualities and potential for growth,” Ragland said. “Each enrollee receives a blazer and every year we hold a ceremony to welcome newly elected individuals. This group fosters growth by having enrollees learn from guest speakers including lawyers, teachers, college presidents, and other professionals.”
Ragland is also active with the Boy Scouts because of the impact it had on his life and he jumped atthe opportunity to be part of it again when a board seat opened.
He spent two years as a troop leader with the Jersey Shore Council’s Scout Reach program which engages with boys who might not have had exposure to growth experiences the Scouts provided. Ragland also saw this open seat as an opportunity to integrate DEI which brought in more parents wanting their children to be involved within the Boy Scouts.
With the conclusion of Hispanic Heritage Month, AtlantiCare Latinos Moving Forward (ALMA), an employee resource group (ERG), are part of an initiative to highlight and support Hispanic employees and community members.
They work to remove barriers in care by closing gaps specifically in language to further support members within this community. Another group they work closely with is Hispanic Association of Atlantic County which they collaborated with the first weekend of Hispanic Heritage Month by staffing a table and bringing emergency medical technicians to the Atlantic City Latino Festival.
“ALMA also donated to the AtlantiCare Foundation to support the diabetes education and access to care that we provide at our Federally Qualified Health Center at the William L. GormleyAtlantiCare HealthPlex in Atlantic City,” Ragland said. “This is an important effort in closing the gap of disparity that can exist when members of the population cannot afford medication.”
Additionally, each year ALMA grants scholarships to support the academic endeavors of AtlantiCare employees and/or their immediate family members of Hispanic descent. Recipients are those pursuing careers in both clinical and non-clinical fields, but whose academic goals align with ALMA.
Ragland is just one of many South Jersey natives using his position and experience to bring change to South Jersey communities. For Ragland, he wants to promote growth and leadership roles for young students just as he had for himself. From AtlantiCare to the surrounding community Ragland pushes for DEI initiatives and spearheads them into different institutions where he sees it could benefit those within them.
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