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New diversity, inclusion and equity officer at CoxHealth will address health disparities and more

Heather Hardinger, diversity, inclusion and equity officer at CoxHealth
Heather Hardinger, diversity, inclusion and equity officer at CoxHealth

Heather Hardinger has been on the job since December 6.

CoxHealth has hired its first Diversity, Inclusion and Equity officer. Springfield City Council member, Heather Hardinger, has filled the role since December 6.

Hardinger will work toward addressing health disparities, reaching underserved populations and identifying gaps in equality and awareness for patients and employees, CoxHealth said in a news release.

“The best way to serve our patients, employees, and communities is to ensure we can provide and maintain safe, welcoming environments for all as we serve, heal, educate, and innovate,” said Hardinger in the statement.

Hardinger has a background in workforce development. She worked five years with the Taney County Partnership where she focused on workforce-centric and economic development projects, according to CoxHealth. She holds a bachelor’s in International/Multicultural Studies from Evangel University and a master’s in Political Science from American Public University System.

She’s served as chairperson of the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights and Community Relations in Springfield, is current vice chair of Bread for the World in Washington D.C. and was appointed by Governor Mike Parson to the 2020 U.S. Census Complete Count Committee.

“It is of critical importance that we are able to attract and retain the most talented staff possible,” Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth said in the news release. “For us to be at our very best, we must create an environment that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion. We want to invite all people with the talent and dedication to serve our patients to find a place to prosper on our team.”