The new co-directors of Minority Organization for Expansion and Retention (MORE), Ariadna Forray, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, and Kim Blenman, PhD, MS, assistant professor of medicine (medical oncology) and assistant professor of computer science, have been active participants in the organization and benefited from its programs and resources. They describe MORE as an essential place at Yale School of Medicine for connecting with other faculty who share their backgrounds and experiences. Now, they say, they hope to expand its reach.
MORE is tasked with fostering a community conducive to recruiting outstanding minority faculty members and providing them with resources to advance in their careers. Forray says it was a place to find colleagues who understood her unique experience as one of the few Latina faculty members in her department. MORE was founded by a group of junior and senior faculty members in 2007 and was most recently led by Psychiatry professor Cindy Crusto, PhD, who stepped down to assume the role of Associate Dean for Gender Equity and Director of the Office for Women in Medicine and Science and Inginia Genao, MD, who is now Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Forray joined the faculty, and MORE, in 2009.
“MORE was a place to meet other faculty that didn’t fully fit in other spaces,” Forray says. “A place I could belong.”
Blenman agrees, saying there’s such value in “meeting so many different people that were like me or going through some of the same challenges. Being able to gather and talk about things and get perspective you may not have because you are new to the university, or the culture, or that area of the country.”
Forray says she also benefited from MORE’s career development support — including invited speakers who gave talks on negotiations and grant-writing skills and connections to the Association of American Medical College’s Mid-Career Minority Faculty Leadership Seminar.
In her new leadership position with MORE, Forray hopes to address faculty wellbeing.
Blenman has served on the MORE executive board since 2018 and is also on the executive board of the Committee on the Status for Women in Medicine (SWIM) which advocates for gender equity at Yale School of Medicine, serving as that group’s liaison to MORE. In addition to partnering with SWIM, MORE partners with the YSM Dean’s Office, the Provost’s Office, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, and Women’s Faculty Forum (WFF), among others.
Working with MORE has given her real insight into how Yale works, Blenman says. “It has been a really great opportunity for me to learn about the organizational structure at Yale and understand how to navigate the system to advance my career and help others advance,” she says. “I love that we can collaborate with SWIM and WFF and the dean’s office. I love the fact that we have a voice, and that voice is heard by our leadership – this organization helps to foster and facilitate that.”