Event Details

The debate about the role of free speech in society has garnered headlines around the globe and has captivated the attention of the higher education community.  Although we regularly discuss speech in the context of the social sciences and humanities, its intersection with medicine and health sciences is less often explored. 

What are the pressures on medical students and professionals to self-censor when they put on the white coat? What are the challenges of increasing diversity in the medical profession?  What role does activism play in these fields? 

On Tuesday, August 18th, Center Academic Advisory Board Member and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Dr. Suneil Koliwad, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach at UCSF Dr. Renee Navarro and Diversity and Inclusion Programs Officer at the UCI College of Health Sciences Dr. Xavier Hernandez addressed these and other questions during the final webinar in our “Summer Conversations on Speech” series. The conversation was moderated by Center Executive Director, Michelle Deutchman.



Dr. Xavier Hernandez

Diversity and Inclusion Programs Officer, UCI College of Health Sciences; Center VOICE Award Recipient



Xavier Hernandez is the Diversity and Inclusion Program Officer for the UC Irvine College of Health Sciences. In addition to being an alumnus of UCI (BA Criminology, Law, & Society), he also holds an MA in Asian American Studies from San Francisco State University and a PhD in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Previously, he served as the Director of the Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center at Purdue University. He also has experience as a faculty member at the University of Illinois and Purdue, respectively. His academic publications include articles in Race, Ethnicity, & Education, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, and the co-authored monograph Asian Americans in Higher Education: Charting New Realities.

Dr. Suneil Koliwad

Associate Professor of Medicine and Chief of Endocrinology & Metabolism, UCSF;
Center Academic Advisory Board




Suneil Koliwad, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor of Medicine and the Chief of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of California San Francisco. He is also an investigator in the UCSF Diabetes Center, holding the Gerold Grodsky, PhD/JAB Chair in Diabetes Research and the Mt. Zion Distinguished Professorship in Endocrinology. He regularly attends on the Diabetes and Endocrinology services at UCSF, where he trains medical students, nursing students, residents, and fellows. Dr. Koliwad earned his PhD and MD degrees from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. After a Chief Residency there, Dr. Koliwad arrived at UCSF, where he completed a clinical fellowship in Endocrinology and a research fellowship at the J. David Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease. As a faculty member at UCSF, Dr. Koliwad’s lab focuses on how nutrients, inflammation, and metabolism intersect to produce common diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, that exact a huge toll on minority and other vulnerable populations.

Dr. Renee Navarro

Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach, UCSF



Renee Chapman Navarro, PharmD, MD, is a Professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care. In 2010 she was appointed as the University of California, San Francisco’s inaugural Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach. She is the first African American woman and first anesthesia faculty member to be appointed to the chancellor’s executive leadership team at UCSF.

Dr. Navarro completed her Pharm D education and training at the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, California. She obtained her pharmacy license and worked in both community and hospital pharmacy practices.

She made the decision to attend medical school and subsequently, residency at University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Navarro joined the Anesthesia Faculty with a research focused on the physiologic properties of inhaled anesthetic agents. After several years she transitioned her academic focus to issues of patient access, quality and safety.

As a faculty leader and educator her career at UCSF has progressed rapidly. She has held several leadership positions at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, including Chair of Pharmacy and Therapeutics and the Risk Management Committees, and Acting Chief of Anesthesia. She served for 10 years as the Medical Director of Perioperative Services and was elected by her peers to serve as the Chief of the Medical Staff.

Dr. Navarro has served as an examiner for the American Board of Anesthesia. She is a mentor, clinician educator and academic leader. She has served the department in resident selection and advising, finance, merits and promotions committees and also as a member of the department’s executive committee. Within the School of Medicine, she served as the Associate Dean for faculty affairs as well as an Advisory College Mentor, an Introduction to Medicine leader and Anesthesia Career Advisor.

In 2007, she became the first Director of Academic Diversity at UCSF, charged with coordinating the University’s Strategic Goal of nurturing the diversity of faculty through targeted outreach, campus policy and procedural changes as well as ongoing education.

Nationally, Dr. Navarro has continued her strong leadership and advocacy for equity and inclusion. She served as a member of the White House Fellowship selection committee, NIH Advisory Group to the Director’s working group on diversity, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Committee on Professional Diversity and the ASA Professional Issues Education Committee. Dr. Navarro is committed to public service, serving on the San Mateo Commission on the Status of Women, the San Mateo Commission on Disabilities and was the founding Chair of the Group on Women in Medicine and Science for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). She now serves as Chair for the AAMC’s Group on Diversity and Inclusion and is leading the UCSF Action Collaborative to address gender harassment and sexual misconduct in academic medicine.

The Office of Diversity and Outreach has significantly impacted the university and community for which it received the 2016 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from Insight into Diversity Magazine.

Dr. Navarro has received numerous awards including a mentorship award from California Assemblyman Leno. Her impact on health equity and service has also been recognized by San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s Proclamation of J. Renee Navarro Day in San Francisco.

Related Resources

Resource Materials

VOICE Initiative

Fellows Program