Get To Know: Wayne Ford | Broadlawns Celebrates Black History Month

This Black History Month, Broadlawns is celebrating by highlighting a few of the many amazing Black individuals who make an impact every day at our hospital.

Wayne Ford

Job Title

Broadlawns Community Consultant

Tell us about what you do in a typical day.

My whole life has been fair played, focusing on inclusion. I was born in Washington D.C.'s inner city. As a former Iowa state Representative, I served on nearly every House standing and appropriations committee. I'm the former executive director of Urban Dreams. A community leader for most of my life. Typically, my day includes calling people around the community, setting up meetings, zoom calls, research, equity, and inclusion.

How long have you worked at Broadlawns?

7 years.

What attracted you to a career in healthcare?

Broadlawns is very unique to me. When I was playing football at Drake, Broadlawns was the hospital we all made jokes about. The joke was, if you got shot, please do not take me to Broadlawns. Seeing how Broadlawns developed, attracted me to working with the community hospital. I watched Broadlawns grow from "the worst" to the best and truly live up to it's mission. I suggested to Jody Jenner, former CEO of Broadlawns, that we visit John Hopkins to see how the hospital had engaged its neighboring community. Baltimore had a unique situation because of the death of Freddie Gray and the weeks of tense protests that followed Freddie Gray's death. It was a moment that exposed disparities within the city of Baltimore while bringing many together in common cause. In response to this, Johns Hopkins University strengthened its commitment to providing economic and employment opportunities in Baltimore, and to discussing, investigating, and addressing critical underlying issues—police brutality, mass incarceration, separate and unequal schools, and an ever-growing wealth gap. Jody and I went to the John Hopkins University campus, met with the presidents, and the goal was to look at what they were doing in their community, and what we could bring back here. What we brought back was the award-winning TEACH & TECH program.

What do you like about working with Broadlawns?

The atmosphere. The people. The cafeteria food. I even like the smell of Broadlawns. “I want to be in a place where everybody knows my name.” That quote is true of Broadlawns and truly gives me that Broadlawns spirit. I came here today and the lady right at the front door knew who I was and greeted me with a smile. The beauty—I saw Broadlawns when it was just a few buildings and I have watched it grow into a beautiful campus with 21st century buildings and some of the best medical facilities and equipment in Iowa. Broadlawns was in my district, so to come here in the 70s, and to see Broadlawns grow to where it is now is a dream come true—seeing Broadlawns transform itself to the best community hospital in America. 

Name a Black American(s) you admire and think people should learn more about.

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. He was an American historian, sociologist, and civil rights activist. He is co-founder of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights organization in the United States. He was the first African American to receive a PhD from Harvard University. When asked about being the first Black man to earn a PhD from Harvard, WEB Du Bois responded, "The honor, I assure you, was Harvard's." Growing up in the hood in Washington D.C., this quote had a profound impact on me because it proves that feeling good about yourself comes from within. It was Harvard who had the privilege of having him choose to earn his PhD at their university.

What books by Black authors do you recommend?

Any Poems by Maya Angelou.

What does it mean to be an inclusive healthcare provider?

When I saw what the new CEO, Tony Coleman, said, "The patient is the north star." That's what it means to me. That says it all.

What ways do you challenge/invite others to honor Black history, this month and beyond?

I challenge the younger generation to change the narrative of American History. I want all American history to be looked at the same. You don't say "White history," just as it should be American History versus Black / White History. We are all Americans first.