Advocate Health Appoints Dr. J. Nwando Olayiwola as President of Advocate National Center for Health Equity

07.09.2024 Atrium Health News

Appointment Strengthens System’s “For All” Commitment

CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 9, 2024 – Advocate Health was founded on a mission of improving health, elevating hope and advancing healing for all. The nation’s third-largest nonprofit health system today announced a new standard-bearer to help forward that mission, naming Dr. J. Nwando Olayiwola as the president of the Advocate National Center for Health Equity.

Olayiwola is an innovative leader in health equity who brings more than 20 years of expertise in clinical, community and academic medicine, health technology innovation, health services research, public health leadership and health system transformation. As a board-certified family physician, she has spent her career serving medically underserved populations and will continue to practice medicine in this role.

The Advocate National Center for Health Equity will serve Advocate Health communities across the nation. It is designed to disrupt the root causes of disparities and rewire all of Advocate Health’s care models to ensure it is delivering on health equity for all, with an emphasis on equitable application of clinical discoveries and research. Olayiwola will work alongside senior clinical, corporate, academic and community leaders to integrate the health equity strategy throughout the health system, including the care delivery system and the academic learning system.

“Striving for equity in all of its forms is a defining part of our organization’s DNA,” said Kinneil Coltman, executive vice president and chief community and social impact officer for Advocate Health. “With the selection of Dr. Olayiwola to lead the Advocate National Center for Health Equity, we believe we can make significant strides to disrupt and eliminate existing barriers and ensure access to high quality health care for underserved populations.”

“It is tremendously exciting to join Advocate Health and bring to life the Advocate National Center for Health Equity, while laying the groundwork for change for all,” said Olayiwola. “By using data and community engagement principles to design and accelerate programs, we will help underserved populations gain equitable access to health care, eliminate care gaps, remove social and environmental barriers to care and build healthier communities.

“I’m confident that through the Advocate National Center for Health Equity, we can positively impact the troubling fact that, in the world’s most prosperous country, the opportunities that life affords and the quality of health care are still typically determined by your racial or ethnic background, socioeconomic status or the ZIP code you come from,” she said.

In her previous role, Olayiwola served as Humana’s first chief health equity officer, developing and implementing strategies to ensure patients and members of the communities served by the organization had access to equitable care. She founded a global health services consultancy group, as well as an association for minority women professionals. She is also a published author of more than 100 scholarly publications and four books. 

Olayiwola received both her bachelor’s degree and doctor of medicine from The Ohio State University, where she later served as chair and a professor of the department of family and community medicine at the OSU College of Medicine while also practicing medicine at the OSU Wexner Medical Center. She completed her family medicine residency at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University, where she was a chief resident. She also earned a master’s degree in public health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she was a Commonwealth Fund Fellow in minority health policy and a Presidential Scholar.

Her list of recognitions is extensive and includes being inducted into the National Academy of Medicine in 2022 and into The Ohio State University’s Hall of Fame through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in 2024. She was also named among “Most Influential Minority Executives in Healthcare,” by Fierce Healthcare, one of “Eight Women to Watch in Corporate America,” by Essence Magazine, “Woman of the Year” by the American Telemedicine Association and a “Family Physician Changing our World” by the Family Medicine Education Consortium. She also received the “Public Health Innovator Award” from Harvard School of Public Health and was named one of “America’s Top Family Doctors” on multiple occasions by the Consumers Research Council of America.

Olayiwola’s appointment is effective Aug. 19, 2024. She will succeed Cristy Garcia-Thomas as president of the Advocate National Center for Health Equity. Garcia-Thomas recently announced she will be leaving the organization after more than a decade of service. Garcia-Thomas also held the role of Advocate Health’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. The system named Fernando Little as her successor in that role in June.