Professor of Psychiatry Cindy Crusto, PhD, has been appointed to the role of associate dean for gender equity and director of the Office for Women in Medicine and Science beginning in January 2022.
The position will help to fulfill goals outlined in the YSM Diversity Strategic Plan, including increasing mentorship and networking opportunities for women faculty, sponsoring women for leadership positions, and promoting policies and procedures that benefit women faculty.
Crusto will build on groundbreaking work laid by her predecessor Merle Waxman, who held the position for over 30 years and retired in May and will work closely with Darin Latimore, MD, deputy dean for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.
“We are fortunate to have recruited Dr. Crusto into this position,” says Latimore. “Her previous leadership roles where she has directly worked on gender issues will be a tremendous asset to the office.”
Crusto says her vision is to draw on many of the lessons she’s learned building equity across dimensions in her department and at YSM in roles that include deputy chair for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the Department of Psychiatry, co-chair of the Yale School of Medicine Minority Organization for Retention and Expansion (MORE), executive committee member of the Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine (SWIM), and deputy Title IX coordinator.
Crusto has been a leader in the Department of Psychiatry’s DEI work, co-chairing the department’s 100-member Anti-Racism Task Force and strategically using Grand Rounds to launch discussions around DEI and attract national speakers, work that she says supports mechanisms to bring about systems change.
She’s also focused on connecting women faculty with sponsors, or senior faculty who can help build bridges and open opportunities for career advancement. And she wants to provide access to coaching to help build women faculty members’ professional skills. “I want to normalize skill-building and coaching,” Crusto says.
Crusto is currently a fellow in the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program, run by the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, which is designed to accelerate the career paths of promising women faculty. “I’m looking forward to building on the ELAM model of training and support for women and determining how we can replicate aspects of the model at Yale School of Medicine and draw upon the network of women who have gone through the ELAM program,” says Crusto.
Her personal experience navigating academic medicine as the first Black female professor of psychiatry at YSM also serves as a guide for how she will approach the role — focusing not just on women but on the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and ability status among other identities. “I understand how multiple systems of discrimination, prejudice, and bias impact different groups, and I want to give voice to that,” Crusto says.
Now that she’ll be leading broader initiatives aimed at fostering gender equality across the entire school, she wants to support women as they navigate their career paths and advancement; design and implement new initiatives; create opportunities for leadership; and encourage all faculty to mentor, sponsor, and advocate for women.
“I want women to feel connected, a sense of community, and empowered to help bring about changes we need to become a more equitable institution,” says Crusto.