Dr. Laura Svetkey Awarded the Inaugural 2024 Kimberley J. Evans Legacy Award

In a heartfelt tribute to the indomitable spirit of inclusivity and advocacy, the Duke Department of Medicine (DOM) proudly announces that Laura Svetkey, MD, is the recipient of the inaugural 2024 Kimberley J. Evans Legacy Award. This esteemed recognition celebrates Dr. Svetkey's unwavering commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the medical community and beyond.  

The award is named in honor of the late Dr. Kimberley J. Evans who tragically passed away in August 2023, leaving behind a legacy that resonates deeply within the DOM community. The Kimberley J. Evans Legacy Award was established in 2024 and recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to advancing diversity among trainees or faculty, advocating for equal career development opportunities for underrepresented individuals in medicine (URiM) residents, fellows, and faculty, promoting institutional culture change and community building, and fostering an environment of inclusion and belonging within the Department and throughout the medical community.  

This award is an emblem of Dr. Evans's life and work. A cherished member of the Department of Medicine (DOM), she left an indelible mark on the institution and the medical community at large. As the Associate Vice Chair for DOM Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Dr. Evans played a pivotal role in spearheading transformative initiatives aimed at enhancing diversity among trainees and faculty. She chaired the Department's Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee (MRRC), where she led innovative programs to increase the recruitment of URiM and foster their professional development within the medical field.

Kimberley J. Evans, MD

Dr. Dani Zipkin, associate vice chair, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and chair of the Program for Women in Internal Medicine (PWIM), nominated Dr. Svetkey for the inaugural award saying, “She has created foundational programs that have proven fundamental to the department’s missions in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and I can think of no one better to be honored in Kim’s memory.” 

Dr. Evans firmly believed in the power of inclusive practices to drive positive institutional change. Her visionary leadership helped embed a DEI lens into the department's fabric, ensuring that equity and inclusion became integral components of its mission. Through her efforts, Dr. Evans cultivated a supportive environment where every individual, regardless of background or identity, could thrive and contribute meaningfully to the medical community. 

Under Dr. Svetkey's leadership, the department has witnessed a transformative evolution in DEI efforts. She expanded the roles of existing committees and spearheaded the creation of new initiatives such as Civility Champions, Stepping in 4 Respect, and the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism (DEIAR) Committee. Her mentorship, sponsorship, and commitment to providing educational and networking opportunities have empowered countless individuals within the department. 

"Her inspiring commitment to fight for equal opportunities, particularly amongst underrepresented groups, and her unparalleled passion to foster a strong sense of purpose and belonging, are amongst the many traits that make her deserving of this distinguished award," says Dr. David Ortiz, co-chair of the MRRC, of Dr. Svetkey. Dr. Omobonike Oloruntoba Saunders, fellow co-chair of the MRRC, added, "Her ability to listen attentively and ask thought-provoking questions has not only refined my ideas but also expanded my horizons." 

Dr. Bryan Batch, division chief of endocrinology at Durham VAMC and faculty director of Duke-NCCU Bridge Office, further reflected on Dr. Svetkey's impact as a mentor and leader, saying, "Dr. Svetkey has been a consistent mentor and sponsor for me and others across the Department of Medicine. Her grounded counsel, extraordinary skill as a mentor, and commitment to diversity as a leader stand as an example for each of us to emulate." 

In accepting the award, Dr. Svetkey humbly acknowledged Dr. Evans's legacy and reaffirmed her commitment to advancing DEI initiatives within the medical community. "It is an honor to receive this award, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to continue Dr. Evans' legacy of advocacy and inclusion," she remarks. 

Dr. Julius Wilder, chair of the DEIAR Committee, presented the award to Dr. Svetkey saying that, "Given her relationship with Kim and her contributions to Kim’s success, as well as her tremendous positive impact within the space of diversity, equity, and inclusion broadly within the DOM, we believe there is no one more deserving of this inaugural award than Laura Svetkey." 

As the DOM celebrates Dr. Laura Svetkey's remarkable achievements, her journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of leadership in fostering a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion in medicine. In honoring Dr. Svetkey, the department reaffirms its commitment to upholding the values championed by Dr. Kimberley J. Evans and continues its quest for a more inclusive and equitable future in healthcare.