LEXINGTON, Ky. — Tukea Talbert has been selected to serve as UK HealthCare’s first chief diversity officer.
This is an important milestone in UK’s evolution as an employer that seeks to attract and retain a highly talented workforce representing all aspects of diversity within the community its serves, said Dr. Mark Newman, UK Healthcare’s executive vice president for health affairs.
One of UK’s new key strategic objectives is to build its culture, and both the role and the person selected to fill the role will have a big impact on achieving those objectives, he said.
Tukea began her career at UK HealthCare in 1985 as a staff registered nurse working in an adult medical-surgical unit. Within a few years, she was selected as the clinical nurse manager of a 15-bed trauma emergency unit, and then in 1997, she became a patient care manager at Markey Cancer Center.
Her wide-ranging experience as a nurse and a nurse manager led to her being hired away in 2007 by Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester, Ky., as its chief nursing officer.
Tukea came back to UK HealthCare in 2012, where she has held a variety of positions in health care administration, including director of enterprise accreditation and regulatory compliance, interim director of the Office of Enterprise Quality & Safety, and assistant operations executive/executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Earlier this year, Tukea achieved certification as a diversity professional from the Diversity Executive Leadership Academy. She adds this achievement to her educational attainments where she has graduated with honors in nursing at the associate, bachelor, master, and doctorate levels.
In UK’s strategic planning process, Tukea oversaw the development and update to the five-year diversity and inclusivity strategic plan for UK HealthCare. In her role as executive director DEI, she has been overseeing diversity and inclusion initiatives for the clinical health system, including serving as chair of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council.
Recently, President Eli Capilouto named her to the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Leadership Implementation Team as part of a university-wide focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Tukea retains her connection to nursing through her work as adjunct faculty for the UK College of Nursing and membership in the American Organization of Nurse Executives and the American Nursing Association. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the national nurse honor society.
Within the community, Tukea recently served on the Mayor’s Commission on Racial Justice and Equality, where she was vice-chair for the Healthcare Disparities Subcommittee. She also serves on the boards of Women Leading Kentucky and Nathaniel Mission.
As chief diversity officer, Tukea will oversee all diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts across the health care enterprise. This officer will strengthen the business case for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizational culture that can contribute to being a more effective provider of health care within our community.
The role includes strategic leadership that ensures diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect for all patients, staff, faculty, and students within the health care enterprise. This work will be broad, connecting to health equity, determinants of health, research, patient care, patient experience, staff/provider engagement, student curriculum, resource allocation, recruitment, hiring, LGBTQ topics, psychological safety, gender issues, and succession planning.
Tukea also will oversee the execution of policies, programs, and practices to attract, retain, and promote a diverse workforce within UK HealthCare, including leading efforts to increase the cultural competence of staff and faculty.
“Since Tukea has been actively engaged in many of these areas already, we anticipate that she will be able to step into the role and quickly accelerate UK HealthCare’s DEI efforts,” Newman said.