Michael M. McKee, M.D., M.P.H., Lisa M. Meeks, Ph.D., M.A., and Oluwaferanmi O. Okanlami, M.D., M.S., leaders of the University of Michigan’s Department of Family Medicine’s MDisability Program, are among seven members of Michigan Medicine recognized for their contributions to the development of a culturally and ethnically diverse U-M community. They recently received the 2020 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Awards from the Office of the Provost.
The annual award was established in 1996 and is given in honor of Harold Johnson, dean emeritus of the School of Social Work.
McKee, Meeks and Okanlami were nominated jointly for their work leading the MDisability Program in the Department of Family Medicine at the Medical School. MDisability is a collaborative program focused on improving the inclusion of people with disabilities in healthcare research, education, practice and community engagement.
McKee, associate professor of family medicine, is a deaf physician who sees patients at Michigan Medicine’s Dexter Family Medicine Center. Many of his patients have severe hearing loss and come from all around the state to see him.
In addition, McKee teaches medical students and residents about care for people with disabilities. He has also worked with the state of Michigan’s Medicaid program to study and improve mental health care of deaf patients around the state. He also is well-funded by the NIH and other entities to study how to improve care for people with disabilities.
An assistant professor of family medicine, Meeks focuses the inclusion of qualified individuals with disabilities in medical education and health sciences broadly. As part of these efforts, she partners with associations and programs across the country and is the co-Principal Investigator and lead author of the Association of American Medical Colleges report on learners with disabilities. Meeks also chairs the International Council on Disability Inclusion in Medical Education, which has goals that include creating international guidance for supporting qualified disabled individuals in the medical profession.
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Okanlami, assistant professor of family medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and urology, is a national expert in adaptive sports. He is a wheelchair user due to a spinal cord injury and serves as a vocal advocate for individuals with disabilities of all kinds, as well as other marginalized and minoritized groups as a physician of color himself. He sees patients at Michigan Medicine’s Briarwood Family Medicine Center in Ann Arbor.
A former intercollegiate athlete, Okanlami is developing a robust adaptive sports and inclusive fitness infrastructure at U-M that supports people with disabilities. He has given keynote addresses on diversity, equity, and inclusion for various national organizations, consults for companies and universities across the country, and teaches learners at all levels. He recently assumed the roles of Interim Director of Services for Students with Disabilities and Director of Adaptive Sports & Fitness, both within the division of Student Life for the entire University of Michigan.
The contributions of McKee, Meeks and Okanlami to MDisability has included the highly successful #DocsWithDisabilities Twitter campaign (@DocsWith); the beginning of an adaptive sports enterprise at U-M; health fairs for deaf people; and the establishment of a summer fellowship program for undergraduate students. MDisability also has pioneered a medical student disability elective.
Philip Zazove, M.D., the George A. Dean, M.D. Chair of Family Medicine professor and chair of family medicine, said in his nominating letter that the combined work and efforts of all three faculty leaders is what has made the program so successful.
“The University of Michigan is a leader in promoting the importance and benefits of diversity. One of the key areas making Michigan so well respected is the breadth of diversity being supported,” Zazove wrote. “We are a leader in inclusion and equity for people with disabilities, and the MDisability Program has played a significant role recently in this national recognition.
“I give Drs. McKee, Meeks and Okanlami my strongest support for the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award. They … have brought international fame to the University, and are extraordinarily deserving.”