Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Our Mission

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) works to increase diversity among the cancer workforce and to ensure that the diversity of our faculty and leadership reflects the communities we serve and the nation as we work towards curing cancer. We carry out this mission with the goal of promoting academic excellence, healing, and wellness for all.

DEI Office at the HICCC

  • Sandra Ryeom, PhD

    • Associate Director for Diversity Equity & Inclusion
    Sandra Ryeom
  • Stephanie Lovinsky-Devir, MD

    • Assistant Director for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion​
  • Emily M. Mace, PhD

    • Assistant Director for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion​
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  • Rafia Khursheed, MPH

    • Sr. Research Program Coordinator at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer 
  • Alexis Pissey Keo, MPH

    • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Clinical Research Manager at the Clinical Protocol and Data Management Office

Meet our Interns

Through our internship program, CUIMC Graduate level students (Masters, Ph.D or MD), postdoctoral fellows and clinical fellows gain experience in creating and supporting pipeline programs. Interns are given opportunity to participate in programming, initiatives and outreach related to increasing diversity at all levels and supporting diversity staff, trainees and faculty affiliated with the HICCC. Our interns work across many domains of the HICCC DEI office. 

Apply for the DEI Internship Program

  • Brittney Destin, MPH Candidate

    • Intern, HICC Diversity Equity Inclusion Office (Fall 2022)

    Brittney Destin (she/her) is proud to work with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to develop equitable pipeline programs for people who have been historically left out of leadership positions within the healthcare space. As she works to earn her Master's in Public Health at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, Brittney hopes to bring her lived experience and education to be an agent of change and continue to help dismantle systemic barriers to health.

  • Ross Giglio, PhD Candidate

    • Intern, HICC Diversity Equity Inclusion Office (Spring 2022)

    I am working with the DEI office in order to play a role in mentoring students in high schools surrounding the CUIMC community. My early experiences in research and my mentors throughout these experiences shaped my path to becoming a PhD student and researcher, and I want to share my passion for research to students underrepresented in research in the hopes of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion at CUIMC. By demonstrating early what a career biomedical research might look like, we can help shape the next generation of scientists.

  • Daniel Naveed Tavakol, PhD

    • Intern, HICC Diversity Equity Inclusion Office (Fall 2023)

    I'm really excited about being a part of the HICCC DEI Office, as my goal is to actively support students from underrepresented minorities early on in the Ph.D. to facilitate a supportive environment for new trainees. Particularly meaningful to me is to continue supporting LGBTQIA+ scientists who often need the support networks to pursue academic STEM fields – both at Columbia and in our scientific organizations. The HICCC DEI office provides me with the appropriate opportunities to achieve these goals while pursuing my postdoctoral work in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

DEI Advisory Council

HICCC DEI Advisory Council consist of HICCC affiliates, community members, and external stakeholders. The council  contributes to ideas and feedback on the HICCC strategic plan for the DEI Office, assess success of programs, and offer feedback on new initiatives.

  • Brittney Destin, MPH

    • Associate Director, Alliance Management
  • Ross Giglio, PhD Candidate

    • Intern, HICC Diversity Equity Inclusion Office (Spring 2022)
  • Ricardo Cruz-Acuna

    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive
  • Yvon Woappi, PhD

    • Herbert and Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics
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  • Karie Danielle Keera Runcie, MD

    • Assistant Professor of Medicine at CUMC
  • Belkis Poche

    • Outreach Coordinator
  • Phoenix A Matthews, PhD, MS, BS, LCP

    • Professor of Behavioral Sciences (in Nursing)
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  • Sandra Ryeom, PhD

    • Associate Professor of Surgical Sciences (in Surgery)
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  • Jennifer A Woo Baidal, MD

    • Florence Irving Associate Professor of Pediatrics
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Wednesday, March 6th from 4-6pm: LGBTQIA+ Affinity in Academia: Faculty Panel & Happy Hour

Description: Join the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center as we bring together LGBTQIA+ scientists and allies in the biomedical research fields for a discussion and happy hour on navigating academia as an LGBTQIA+ individual. The event features panelists Dr. Emily Mace, PhD (Department of Pediatrics) and Dr. Santiago Correa, PhD (Department of Biomedical Engineering) for a vibrant discussion, as well as a happy hour to bring together the LGBTQIA+ community at Columbia.

Location: Black Building, 11th Floor - CSCI Conference Room


Thursday, March 7th from 4-6pm: From Henrietta Lacks to Cancer Care in 2024: Race in Medicine 

Description: Join the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and distinguished guest Dr. Heather Butts, JD, MPH, MA from Columbia’s School of Public Health for a discussion on the implications of race in cancer research and patient care in 2024. In celebrating Black History Month at the HICCC, the importance of Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells have often been underappreciated in the legacy of cancer research. Food will be provided for informal discussions after the session led by Prof. Butts.

Location: HICCC Auditorium


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)