Tukea L. Talbert


Dr. Talbert is the Chief Diversity and Health Equity Officer for UK HealthCare. In her role, she has responsibility to monitor, educate, consult, advise, and evaluate the health system’s progress with the execution and achievement of milestones within the Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, and inclusion. Through her strategic leadership, she builds partnerships and alliances among internal and external stakeholders that include the UK HealthCare System and affiliates; campus colleagues, and community leaders. She has led the development of the strategic plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) that focuses on the three P’s (People-workforce, Patients-customers, Partnerships-community connections with faith leaders, Mayor’s office, equity partners, and other advocates) Some of the key initiatives to impact change have involved the expansion of the equity data infrastructure, DEI Council charter, identification of best practices for diversity and cultural humility education and development, top diverse talent recruitment strategies, and designing an infrastructure to support the sustainability of the DEI Strategic Plan.

She ensures that UKHC is strategic and intentional about creating an inclusive care environment for patients, staff, faculty and learners from all backgrounds. This work is expansive and ranges from courses on cultural humility; quality data disaggregation, review and reporting; promotion and implementation of best practices for diversity, equity, and inclusion; partnering with entities outside the boundaries of UK HealthCare to ensure alignment with DEI initiatives that include the professional health colleges, the Office of Institutional Diversity, and community partners.

Educated with a Master’s of Science Degree and Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing, her career has included executive leadership roles in both academic and community healthcare settings.

She serves on several community boards that include the Nathaniel Mission Board along with Women Leading Kentucky where she serves as the current president.

Learn more about Tukea here:

What has been our greatest & favorite achievement so far and why?

This is challenging because every moment and patient success where health equity is achieved-COUNTS! Recently, under my leadership, UK HealthCare’s Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was awarded the SCOPY Inspiration & Impact Award, which is awarded by the American College of Gastroenterology. SCOPY (stands for): Service Award for Colorectal Cancer Outreach, Prevention, and Year-Round Excellence. I along with my physician partner, who helped with our Holistic Health Campaign in Black/Brown Churches, will be honored in Vancouver Canada in October.

What does success mean to you?

It means that something that once seemed out of reach came to fruition. It is seeing a dream and/or a vision become reality. Success is when you can create a tangible IMPACT experienced by many, which allows you & others to celebrate out loud because it is an achievement that many can relate to and/or benefit from in some way.

What is your mantra or favorite saying? (If it's a known quote, please let us know who said it first!)

Never forget your self-worth (me and I am sure several others)…”No one can make you feel inferior without your permission” Eleanor Roosevelt

What failure taught you the most about life or business? What was the lesson?

Not being selected for a Sr/Executive level position. Lesson Learned or Affirmed: To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (Ecclesiastes, 3: 1-8). I learned that I MUST always remember my self-worth and I could not get caught up in negative narratives or the noise that resulted from very public interview process, etc. It was not the position for me or the time. I had to exercise great patience, character, ….it was a humbling experience that taught me many lessons about resilience, integrity, character, and rising above the chaos and showing respect for others even when they are abuse their positions of authority. I learned that you never know who you are and what you are or can be until you have been tested….

What's your favorite book - fiction or non-fiction! - in the past year?

Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson l Wilkerson

If you could teach the world one five-minute lesson, what would it be?

I would start the lesson with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.” Everything impacts everybody…When individuals are not allowed to be ALL that they can be, no one wins. It impacts society as a whole. As a society, we need to understand and appreciate our differences, values, and the power of VOICE and representation in all facets of our existence. Talent is widespread, but opportunity is limited. As a society, we must ensure that all people have a fair opportunity to be wildly successful….it will only make us all better and more able to achieve beyond our wildest dreams.

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently when you were first starting out?

I would have definitely have had a solid circle of mentors and a sponsor. I noticed that people around me were advancing because they had people creating a path for their advancement. They had sponsors advocating for them to be considered and positioned for promotions and other opportunities. I would also say that it is ok to be your loudest cheerleader!!! It is ok to talk about what you do well and achievements made.

What does women's empowerment look like to you in action?

It looks like REAL SUSTAINABLE change in maternal healthcare, access, & decision-making. This will be change led, supported and enforced by women for women where they have seats at the table.

What would you tell 19-year-old YOU?

You can have it all-just not all at the same time. Pace yourself!

What will 86-year-old you want you to know TODAY?

Enjoy every day as if it were your last. Enjoy the successes and learn from the failures-they are both tremendously important.

Does anyone call you by a nickname? What is it?

No nickname

What is your favorite place for our audience to reach you?

My email: [email protected]

What is your favorite quote? (It can be yours or from someone that you look up to.)

“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you…” Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). The work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice is what I care about and the work and outcomes can be limitless when everyone joins the effort. We are stronger together. This work is everyone’s work, not just the ones who have been historically marginalized and minoritized. We all own our success/destiny and must hold ourselves accountable to do the work!

Learn more about Tukea here:

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