Ascension is a winner in the 2016 Diversity & Inclusion Awards by PR News, a publication about communications and marketing.

On Dec. 6, PR News celebrated the organizations and individuals in public relations “who champion the bringing together of people from all backgrounds and life experiences in the workplace.”

“The Diversity & Inclusion Awards recognize those who have demonstrated a commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace – from new hires to the executive team,” PR News said.

Ascension was honored for its work to communicate about healthcare needs of diverse communities, one story at a time, with a series of commentary articles by Patricia Maryland, Dr.PH, President, Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer, Ascension Healthcare.

“Ascension identified a need to strengthen the organization’s outreach to the African American community and address the unique healthcare needs of this population in a meaningful way,” PR News said.

To reach African-American communities and increase understanding and trust of medical professionals, Ascension and Dr. Maryland developed a program targeting key media outlets with columns about a wide range of nationally recognized health conditions and disparities overwhelmingly affecting African-Americans. Ascension partnered with America’s largest association of minority-owned community newspapers, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, to publish 10 op-eds on subjects from diabetes to pain management.

“The partnership with the National Newspaper Publishers Association enabled [Ascension] to reach an average of more than 20 million readers each week,” PR News says. “Due to the popularity of the columns, Dr. Maryland was invited to become a monthly health contributor to the NNPA service to continue advocating for African-American health issues on a national scale.”

“It’s gratifying that PR News recognized our efforts with Pat to expand awareness and address health disparities through this campaign,” said Nick Ragone, Ascension Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. “The most important aspect is that we’re beginning to make a difference in the African-American community through these opinion columns.”