For Immediate Release:
Contact: Sandra Remey, 301-467-9024
AOPO Announces New Initiatives to Boost Diversity in OPOs and Develop Future Leaders
McLean, VA. (September 1, 2022) — As part of its commitment to boost diversity in the organ donation and transplantation community, the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) is announcing several key initiatives aimed at increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) community. All of these efforts are part of AOPO’s 50K organ transplants in 2026 campaign that is designed to reduce health inequities experienced throughout the organ donation and transplantation process.
This month, AOPO is launching a new survey to assess DEI within its membership, aiming to help OPOs raise awareness and foster DEI within their organizations. The survey focuses on organizational improvements, as well as individual staff engagement with DEI at varying leadership levels. Topics will cover types of trainings, educational needs, and other target areas. Findings from the assessment will help guide AOPO’s DEI Committee and determine the association’s next steps to provide OPOs with resources to improve DEI.
“Through the assessment, we can identify disparities between OPO staff and leadership and the communities they serve,” explains Joe Ferreira, AOPO DEI Committee Chair and President/CEO Nevada Donor Network. “This information will help create an inclusive and equitable culture throughout the OPO community, promoting more fairness within the diverse communities we serve and resulting in more lives saved.”
In addition to the DEI survey, AOPO is moving forward with its plan to increase diversity within leadership in the OPO community by launching its first Leadership Development Summit, which will take place in October 2022.
“The Leadership Development Summit is an educational program designed to develop future leaders and increase diversity among senior leaders in OPOs,” explains AOPO President Barry Massa, Executive Director of LifeCenter Organ Donor Network. “Reaching our transplant goals means we need to provide opportunities for new and up-and-coming leaders to help improve the organ transplantation system, ensuring that transplants and donations reflect our nation’s diverse makeup.”
Being held in Richmond, Virginia, the Summit’s curriculum will be structured around six core competencies: operations, board governance, finance, human resources, clinical, and stakeholder engagement. The courses will be taught by current leaders and outside experts, and the Summit will include networking opportunities to allow emerging leaders to informally learn from peers. OPOs will sponsor the attendance of future leaders.
AOPO’s Leadership Development Summit also supports the goals of the Consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), of which Meharry Medical College, Howard University, and Morehouse School of Medicine are members. These HBCUs, along with AOPO and the Organ Donation Advocacy Group, aim to create new opportunities for Black health professionals to better understand donation and transplantation by enabling them to shadow professionals at OPOs and transplant centers. The collaboration will also help initiate pilot programs to inspire interest in associated careers for middle school students and increase continuity of care to draw attention to donation in multi-ethnic communities. Once these pilot projects are completed, the goal is to replicate the programs at other universities.
The announcements follow National Minority Donor Awareness Month, an observance every August focused on increasing awareness about the need for more organ donors within multicultural communities, inspiring donor registration, and promoting healthy living to reduce the need for transplantation.
“We are continuing these efforts all year round by collaborating with our members and partners to develop unique opportunities to increase organ transplant equity and organ donations from multicultural communities,” says AOPO CEO Steve Miller. “These initiatives will contribute to saving more lives.”
The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) is the not-for-profit trade association leading the nation’s organ donation community to save and improve lives through organ, eye, and tissue donation. Founded in 1984, AOPO advances organ donation and transplantation by driving continual improvement of the donation process, collaborating with stakeholders, and sharing successful practices with their OPO members. The vision of AOPO is to pursue the day when every donation opportunity results in lives saved. For more information, please visit www.aopo.org.