In recent months, diversity and inclusion has become a top priority for businesses, agencies and other organizations. James C. Burroughs II has been working for the cause of diversity and equality longer than most people, for more than two decades.
A Detroit native who earned his law degree at Georgetown University, Burroughs came to Minnesota in 1992 as law clerk for a federal magistrate judge. Then he practiced law for four years with Dorsey & Whitney, before becoming COO and counsel for Minneapolis-based Summit Academy.
He later started a consulting firm, helping other minority business owners succeed. From 2008 to 2015, Burroughs served as the Minneapolis Public Schools executive director for equity and diversity, until Gov. Mark Dayton named him Minnesota’s first chief inclusion officer.
Burroughs’ daughter, who is 9 years old, has been a Children’s Minnesota patient since her birth, receiving treatment for sickle cell anemia. That hospital-parent relationship led to Burroughs’ current position as vice president, chief equity and inclusion officer, effective Jan. 9, 2021.
Burroughs’ primary job is helping Children’s Minnesota advance its commitment to partnering with patients, families and the community to implement equitable solutions.
“What drew me to Children’s was the need to eliminate some of the historic health care disparities that have historically caused damage, even death, to underserved communities.” He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has been “much more detrimental” to communities of color than it has to the overall population, due to causes including lack of access to the quality health care and lack of insurance.
At Children’s, Burroughs has led the development of a strategic plan to advance diversity, equity and inclusion; created an internship program designed to provide a more racially diverse employee pipeline; enhanced and aligned the organization’s six employee resource groups; designed a revised approach to safety and security; and led an organizational commitment to transparency in the development of racial data reporting for hiring, retention and supplier diversity.
Burroughs has also led the implementation of executive equity coaching and leadership development.
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