Diversity Center honors ministry leader with humanitarian award


By Julie Minda
Catholic Health World
January 15, 2013, Volume 29, Number 1
This article originally appeared in print and on the publication's website.

The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio has recognized Sr. Judith Ann Karam, CSA, the head of the Sisters of Charity Health System of Cleveland, with a humanitarian award for outstanding dedication to the community when it comes to diversity, and for community service.

Sr. Karam, the health system's president and chief executive, and two other honorees received the annual award at a Dec. 4 gathering in Cleveland. Peggy Zone Fisher, president and chief executive of the Diversity Center, said the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and their health system are doing God's work. The Diversity Center honored Sr. Karam and the organization because of their work improving health care access for vulnerable populations in Northeast Ohio.

Since the Sisters of Charity began serving in Cleveland in 1851, they and their health care facilities have worked to provide health care and social services to all people in need. Sr. Karam said in an awards video posted on YouTube, that the health system "has developed programs that increase access to health care in a very deliberate way because we believe health care is a basic right."

The health system founded a health services program for children in low-income families and created a network of dentists to treat the uninsured. It built a consortium to provide low-income people assistance with prescriptions.

In the video, Sr. Karam said diversity and inclusion are important to the health system because of the system's core value of respect. "Respecting the giftedness of the human person, respecting our differences and celebrating our differences as gifts is truly who we are as a religious order and also as an organization." She added, "Diversity and inclusion is important to me personally. Nobody reflects God more than the person in front of you. To me that's sacred."

The Sisters of Charity system said it promotes diversity and inclusion internally through the work of a task force that audits the diversity of the system; sets goals to make improvements; engages leaders in making changes; educates and trains employees; and works to improve the diversity of the system's workforce, governance and suppliers.

The Cleveland-based Diversity Center is a human relations organization focused on eliminating bias, bigotry and racism. Since 1949, it has honored 75 people with its humanitarian awards.

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