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African-American Special Interest Group aims for diversity at the top levels within HIMSS and healthcare IT

February 26, 2019 / Susan Morse

When Optum director of Advisory Services Iris P. Frye went to her first global HIMSS conference more than five years ago, what struck her was that out of the sheer volume of people attending, few were African-American. Nursing informatics expect Danielle Siarri said she felt the same way, year-after-year. “The first time I attended, I was basically shocked,” Siarri said. “I didn’t understand why I didn’t see professionals who looked like me. It didn’t sit right with me. When I came back the next year, I noticed it again.” Women remain a rarity in the healthcare IT industry. African-American women, and men, are rarer still. Frye and Siarri likened it to finding other unicorns in the crowd. That was the start of the formation of the HIMSS’s African-American Special Interest Group around 2014.  The founding co-chairs are Frye and Rachelle Blake, president and CEO of Omnimicro.