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Ensuring Health and Racial Equity for All

As UCare's inaugural Health Equity Officer, Pleasant Radford Jr. '14 MBA, is leading the charge to bring better care to diverse populations. "It's our responsibility to make sure we are giving everyone a fair opportunity to live a healthy life," he says. "My MBA allows me to bridge two things I love – business and health care."

The mission of advancing the common good has played out throughout his entire life. "My mother was a nurse and shaped who I am today," Radford recalls fondly. "I got a chance to see her experiences working in the health care system first-hand and the empathy for the patients she treated."

His jobs as a community health researcher, pregnant and parenting youth advocate, and Peace Corps volunteer have been a connective thread across his health care journey. Now, as Health Equity Officer, Radford works with leaders across UCare to integrate the clinical and social needs of their 500,000+ Medicare and Medicaid members. The organization's strong partnerships within local communities remind him of the lifelong relationships he built within the St. Thomas MBA cohort.

It's important for us to identify and address the barriers and challenges that our different member populations encounter.

One of Radford's job responsibilities is to identify where the organization can embed health and racial equity within its programs and initiatives. A hands-on learning opportunity with Mayo Clinic as a student gave him a blueprint, teaching him how to apply business skills to a real-world problem within health care.

Now, years later, Radford continues to impact the lives of health care members. In 2021, he developed a health and racial equity assessment to help UCare employees evaluate business decisions through a health equity lens. It's the first of its kind for the company.

"The assessment helps us consider the health and racial equity implications in our planning, decision-making, and evaluation," he explains. "It serves as a foundation to ask whether our work reduces or exacerbates health and racial inequities."

Radford acknowledges that the journey towards achieving equity isn't always a straight road. It comes with twists and turns and is a journey rather than a destination. The MBA program has been an important part of his own journey to advance the common good.

"Minneapolis is a hub for health care," he explains. "Opus College was a natural fit to get integrated into an established community and continue to make a difference."

headshot of Pleasant Radford Jr.

Pleasant Radford Jr.

  • Health Equity Officer at UCare
  • '14 MBA

An Impact Outside Work

As A Twin Cities Community Leader

Radford has more than ten years of progressive experience in healthcare, equity, community engagement, and evaluation across the not-for-profit, academic, and health sectors.

After the murder of George Floyd, he facilitated a barbershop-style discussion on The State We're In, a podcast that explores themes related to health, health equity, and community. In the two-part episode, he sat down with four Black Minnesota men to talk about mental health, racial trauma, and resilience.

In 2021, Radford was appointed to Governor Walz's Community Council on Inclusion and Equity. He collaborates with local Minnesota leaders on designing, creating, and implementing effective, inclusive, and equitable practices for all Minnesotans.