CHA Diversity Council

Diversity is not an afterthought at CHA - it's the building block of how we design programs and services. Our commitment to Inclusion, Equity and Excellence guide the decisions to address the needs of our patients and employees. CHA Diversity Council members represent 15+ departments across CHA.

As a leader in Diversity among health care providers, we provide a welcoming environment and culturally competent patient care while being a model employer for diversity in the workplace. CHA’s focus on community-based, patient-centered care sets us apart and challenges us to focus on the needs of individuals with a deep understanding of their culture, language and preferences.

Avlot Quessa, Senior Director, Multicultural Affairs & Patient Services and Mary Cassesso, President, CHA Foundation & Chief Community Officer, co-chair the council.

We welcome those who share this vision to join our patient services team and our multicultural teams who set the bar at CHA. If you would like to learn more about Diversity at CHA or get involved in programs, please contact Avlot at

We Sponsor ...

Celebrating LGBTQ+ PRIDE Month [June]

Over 40 CHA staff, family and friends, including members of the LGBTQ+ employee affinity group, marched on Saturday June 8th, proudly supporting the Boston PRIDE parade and those identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer.This year we met up at 717 Boylston Street, Boston, at the CHA Van and started marching around 2:00pm. We raised the Rainbow Flag on Monday June 3rd at each of our hospitals to kick off the month and will present a panel discussion on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, Friday June 28th at 12:30pm (lunch provided.) And we sponsor workforce education programs on LGBTQ health and patient rights.

Focusing on Arab-American Health CareA Focus on Arab-American Health Care [June]

We sponsor an annual event on health care for Arab American patients, with special presentations on the unique cultural characteristics and care preferences of this patient population group.


ASL Nice To Meet YouInternational Deaf Awareness Week [September]

We sponsor International Deaf Awareness Week each September with a series of events and activities to raise awareness about the special needs of our deaf patients, including Educational Kiosks, meet and greet with American Sign Language interpreters and a presentation on communication styles and the resources needed to provide fully accessible care.


Hispanic Heritage MonthNational Hispanic Heritage Month [September - October]

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we host a series of events and activities to celebrate Hispanic heritage and the contributions of Latinos to the CHA community, including staff education, trivia contests, and a presentation on collaborative community building.


Black History Month CelebrationsBlack History Month Celebrations [February]

In honor of Black History Month each February, we host a number of events and activities to celebrate African-American heritage and contributions of African Americans to the CHA community, including staff education, trivia contests, a lecture series and performances by local artists. Watch a dance performance from 2019.


Circle of Flags where Portuguese is spoken Portuguese Speakers Month Celebrations [April]

April is national Celebrate Diversity Month, and CHA is proud to celebrate the diversity within our Portuguese-speaking communities. Portuguese is the second most spoken language at CHA. More than 20,000 individual patients – 16% of our primary care population – receive their care in Portuguese. While Portuguese is the official language of eight independent countries, most of our Portuguese-speaking patients and staff are natives of Brazil, Portugal or Cabo Verde. The CHA Diversity Council organizes a number of engaging activities throughout the month.


Estelle Paris Advanced Nursing Practice ScholarshipEstelle Paris Advanced Nursing Practice Scholarship [April - May]

In partnership with the Human Resources and Nursing Education departments, we facilitate a scholarship for CHA nurses. Scholarships are given in honor of Estelle Paris, RN-C, ANP, a former member of the Cambridge Health Alliance Board and a nurse practitioner who retired after more than twenty years of service in neighborhood health centers in Cambridge. Winners are selected on the basis of a strong academic record, financial need, community involvement, and a demonstrated commitment to diversity and the elimination of disparities in healthcare. The deadline is May 1.


Helping disabled members of our community get hired

Employment Now Initiative

We partner with Project SEARCH, a business-led internship program for individuals with disabilities designed to provide transferable job skills necessary to gain competitive employment in the community. Over the course of 10 months, rotate through three 10-week long internships within CHA, while participating in one hour of instruction on employ-ability skills led by The Carroll Center for the Blind staff. Job coaches are on site to provide support and guidance as the intern embarks on the new rotations. The sole definition of a successful outcome at the conclusion of the program is competitive employment in an integrated setting for each Project SEARCH inter including year-round work at least 20 hours per week at minimum wage or higher.


Speaking many languages across many culturesLinguistic and Cultural Education

In collaboration with Multicultural Affairs and Patient Services, we provide linguistic and cultural education for clinical and non-clinical staff upon request. In addition, we provide consultation to customer departments on a wide range of topics such as meaningful access to care, inclusion, equity, and racial relations.


We Are Committed To ...


  • Provide culturally and linguistically appropriate care
  • Eliminate disparities in access, care, outcomes and satisfaction for our patients


  • Create welcoming environments for all patients/employees
  • Celebrate the diversity of our workforce
  • Recruit a workforce reflecting the communities we serve


  • Integrate diversity goals into our metrics
  • Develop diverse members on our boards – both Advisory and Trustees
LGBTQ image

We Support ...

LGBTQ inclusion and equity

  • Led efforts to achieve 2013 LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader designation from the Human Rights Campaign and working on 2020 designation.
  • Developed trainings on LGBTQ identity and how to build a supportive environment for LGBTQ patients.
  • Engaged in discussions about adding gender identity and sexual orientation to patient demographics.
  • Support LGBTQ Affinity Group for employees.

Identifying and addressing health disparities

  • Committed to culturally competent care.
  • Analyzing clinical and quality measures by ethnicity.
  • Focusing on hypertension with interventions in place.
  • Sharing data to Ambulatory Nurse Leadership.
  • Defining the next steps for how to support efforts to close gaps.

Workforce Diversity

  • Partnered with Human Resources to comprehensively collect ethnicity or language data from employees to examine how well our employees reflect the communities we serve and are able to care for diverse populations.