Rani Williams is the chief diversity and community health equity officer for the University of Illinois Health. She is passionate about health care and is a staunch advocate for equity in those spaces. Rolling out recently spoke to Williams about what motivates her, her leadership style and the impact technology has on her profession.
Please describe your leadership style.
I believe I am a transformational leader. I really want to have an understanding of my team, the work to be done, the short-term and long-term vision. And I am fully aware that most times as a leader, I may have the vision and the gravitas — but without the contributions and oftentimes support of the team, I will not get far. My goal is to bring as many people as I can with me by making sure they have an opportunity to buy into the plan and goal, and then we can be more impactful.
What two favorite quotes motivate you?
“Believe people when they show you who they are, the first time” –Maya Angelou. This quote reminds me that is very important to carefully choose your team, and not to get stuck in someone’s potential, but in what they are showing you.
The second quote is “The best is yet to come.” I believe Tony Bennett is first credited, but the version I hear in my head is courtesy of Donald Lawrence and The Tri-City Singers. It’s motivating to me because is an absolutely true statement. Today is just today, but the best is still on its way.
How do you utilize technology to benefit your organization?
In health care, we have recognized that technology is the future of health care. So in my role, I am a huge advocate for telehealth platforms, patient portals, e-scheduling, digital health education to name a few, as an inroads to improving health equity and providing better access to care. I implemented an automatic discharge call process about 6 years ago which has been hugely successful, and I am excited about what is to come by way of texting and emailing our patients information they can use to better manage and understand their health.
Name your two favorite books.
Becoming by Michelle Obama,
Confessions from Your Token Black Colleague by Talisa “Tali” Laverry
What professional organizations do you support? Why?
I am a very active member of American College of Healthcare Executives, serving on the Chicago Health Executives Forum board of directors. I support that organization, and it has supported me in return by giving me leadership and networking opportunities. I was also named a Thomas C. Dolan Executive Diversity Scholar in 2021, which provided executive education and networking to position diverse up and coming health care leaders for the C-suite. I will say the ROI on that was immediate. I am also a supporter of the National Association of Health Services Executives, which is an organization that supports Black health care executives and leaders. Through that organization, I have met so many great contacts and honestly, legends in this field.