Employee of the Month - Denishia Clark

August 2016Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health

Denishia Clark

Denishia Clark says that throughout her education and career, she's done a dance between health, science and education, but at Stanford, "I don’t have to choose. I can embrace all three interests." This is an incredible understatement. For the last 16 months, as an educational program coordinator for the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health (CIGH), Denishia has more than embraced an incredible variety of tasks. Denishia wears a number of hats related to health, science and education, and each carries with it a complex matrix of responsibilities that span the campus and the globe.

Consider, for example, the global scholars program, which Denishia manages, coordinates and supports. At any given time, CIGH may have 60 global scholars working abroad. For each, there’s an application process, a selection process and a review process. Global scholars require documentation pre-departure, evaluations post-travel and reimbursements along the way. Rachel Leslie says, “Denishia is wonderful in this role and is extremely thorough in caring for each individual’s specific needs to ensure he/she is prepared for work overseas.” Michele Barry agrees. She says, “Denishia goes the extra mile in organizing and troubleshooting all the overseas experiences for residents.”

Keeping track of everyone

To further challenge Denishia, not all scholars travel under the same program umbrella. There are Johnson & Johnson Global Scholars, Stanford Medicine Global Scholars, Mary Duke Biddle Clinical Scholars and others. Libo Wang has been a beneficiary of the way Denishia keeps it all in order. He says, “She helped me navigate the complexities of obtaining appropriate licensing, as making contact with my Johnson & Johnson global health site in Rwanda. She was exemplary at following up on lingering issues and issuing pro-active reminders so that the Johnson and Johnson scholars would not be lost in this complex process. I could not think of a better person to have my back in this process.”

Denishia does, very much, “have their backs.” Denishia says these scholars are her top priority, and so, on a regular basis, she “reviews the CIGH list of travelers abroad and reads Google alerts and breaking news to stay up to date on countries where we currently have scholars.” According to Kathy Burke, Denishia “keeps track of each traveler personally, checking in before, during and after the travel.” Rachel Leslie stresses this, as well. She says, “Denishia goes above and beyond to ensure each traveler is fully prepared. She checks in and monitors their progress, work and safety while they are traveling and fully debriefs with them upon their return.”

Leslie adds, “The support for this program has grown immensely since Denishia took over,” and that likely has something to do with her advocacy for the program right here at home. On campus, Denishia enhances builds awareness of and cohesion for global health efforts across departments. She’s involved in planning and implementation of everything from CIGH finances to conferences; the scope of her effort ranges from event checklists to broader department strategy. In addition, Denishia has launched (and now manages) a list of over 110 faculty across the university working in global health, and she provides administrative support to both residents and faculty in the global health residency track.

Gary Hsin appreciates the support Denishia offers. He says, “As a faculty member based offsite at the VA, she consistently keeps me informed of meetings and conferences.  She also goes out of her way to help. She gathers information regarding policy and procedures and puts me in touch with the right people.”      

“She does this with amazing skill and grace,” says Andrew Chang. “Denishia is one of the (if not the) most competent, hardworking administrators I have worked with during my time at Stanford. She anticipates questions or concerns I have and takes it upon herself to do extra work above and beyond the call of duty in that regard. Her job is made complex due to the fact that she must coordinate events, activities, financial matters and curricular tasks at the level of medical students, residents and attendings.”

Believing in the mission

Before Denishia came to Stanford, she worked in Los Angeles as a training manager for the Black AIDS Institute, a national HIV/AIDS organization focused on community mobilization, advocacy and building capacity of science literacy. In the mission of CIGH, Denishia finds a resonance with this prior work, something that’s is clear to Andrew Chang. He says, “Above all, Denishia clearly cares about her job. She believes in the mission of global health and the improvement of the lives of underserved populations.”

Denishia says she “likes the opportunity to enhance programing and initiatives at Stanford that aim for equality. My background is in urban public health, but right away I noticed many parallels working with underserved populations locally and abroad.” The connection excites her and gives her lots of ideas. “Although the challenges aren’t identical, we can certainly apply global health strategies to address disparities that exist here at home and vice versa,” she says. “We’re exploring best practices that have worked globally [and may] address local health challenges. We have many ideas brewing.”

They’re more than ideas, says Kathy Burke. “Denishia's particular passion is local underserved populations. Over the past several months, she has pushed forward a new project to provide free clinical care to the Pescadero area, engaging faculty, local stakeholders, students and administrators. She wrote a grant application, had it reviewed and revised by many and submitted it on time. We haven't heard yet but hope it will be funded. She's already on the case for the next proposal.” 

Like Chang and Burke, Gita Dehnad recognizes Denishia’s commitment to the CIGH mission. Gita says, “I can clearly witness her willingness to make an impact in what she does within her role. She is willing to share her knowledge with others and ready to collaborate and engage in deep discussions about how to best move and direct the education aspect of the center. She makes a tremendous contribution on a daily basis in advancing the educational mission of CIGH.”

While she’s making things happen locally and abroad, Denishia credits Stanford. She says, “I see firsthand how and why Stanford holds such a great reputation. [It’s] the type of place that is the catalyst for change and will solve some of our most difficult health challenges worldwide. It’s an honor to come to Stanford every day and support history in the making.”

Unwinding locally

With everything Denishia packs into her days at CIGH and as much passion as she has for the work, it would be easy to believe her global health and public health consume all of her focus, but she recharges with a variety of activities. Denishia spent most of her childhood in Hayward, Oakland and Richmond and her adult years in Southern California, and so she’s new to the Bay Area. As she explores, she’s shopping locally, dining out and attending events, such as the Mountain View Art and Wine Festival.

She also enjoys experiencing new places and cultures both in the U.S. and internationally, traveling to U.S. cities like Chicago to celebrate with sorority sisters and abroad to countries like South Africa, Greece, Paris, Spain and Morocco. In addition, she hikes, listens to podcasts, participates in a book club and a virtual Bible study, takes yoga and enjoys live music, especially R&B, urban soul and Latin jazz.