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Tawana Thomas Johnson promoted to SVP & chief diversity officer

Congratulations to Tawana Thomas Johnson, who has been named senior vice president and chief diversity officer and will now serve on the American Cancer Society’s Executive Team. Tawana previously served as ACS vice president, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

Tawana will continue to lead our stand-alone Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team and will be responsible for leading efforts to design and implement strategies that drive diversity, equity, and inclusion to meet our mission, revenue, and talent goals. 

Since joining the American Cancer Society in 2006 as director of Health Disparities for the former South Atlantic Division, Tawana has led the development of outreach tools, programs, and resources to increase awareness of the unequal burden of cancer in in diverse communities, resulting in the significant increase of diverse constituents utilizing our organization’s program and services. Among these tools is the “More Than Conquerors” documentary, which features testimonies and interviews with cancer survivors, caregivers, physicians, and renowned clergy. Tawana served as executive producer for the film, which received national acclaim and premiered at the National Black Film Festival. 

She has successfully led the American Cancer Society in increasing workforce diversity at all levels of the organization (a 17% increase in the overall hiring rate from 2017 to 2019), addressing pay parity, and significantly improving employee engagement around diversity and inclusion (85% D&I score from the 2019 Engagement Study; up five points from previous study). Under her leadership, ACS also joined the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion movement, which brings together more than 1,600 organizations committed to driving diversity and inclusion within their organizations. Tawana’s ongoing role also includes engaging corporate executives, high-level donors, and leadership volunteers in furthering the fight against cancer through revenue generation and mission engagement. 

Additionally, Tawana provides leadership for an initiative in partnership with The Links, Incorporated and the Anthem Foundation that aims to recruit 500 diverse volunteers and reach an estimated 10,000 people with information about cancer prevention and early detection.  

Maria Guyette, interim senior vice president, Talent Strategy, served as former enterprise vice president, Diversity and Inclusion, and recruited Tawana to the team in 2014, promoting her to vice president in 2018. 

“From the moment she joined the team, it was evident Tawana was the right person to elevate the American Cancer Society’s DEI work,” said Maria. “She has truly challenged us to turn our aspirations around DEI into action; to hold the organization – and ourselves – accountable. She has expanded the DEI portfolio both internally and externally. Her work and that of the DEI team has been, and will continue to be, central to our mission and all that we do.”

Tawana serves in leadership capacities with several national organizations including the African Heritage Studies Association, The Links, Incorporated, and the NAACP. She also serves on several boards, including the Oprah Winfrey Network OWN Your Health advisory board

The members of the Executive Team are: CEO Karen Knudsen, MBA, PhD; Chief Financial Officer Kael Reicin; ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse; Mike Nealchief of Organizational Advancement; Michael Reich, senior VP, Communications & Marketing; Tim Phillips, chief legal and risk officer; Chief Medical and Scientific Officer Bill Cance, MD; Maria Guyette, interim senior vice president, Talent Strategy;  and Tawana Thomas Johnson, senior vice president and chief diversity officer.

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