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Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion Mission Statement

Children’s Mercy Pediatric Residency Program is committed to recruiting and training a diverse group of pediatric residents.  We seek to provide high quality clinical care by creating a workforce that reflects the diversity of patients we serve.  

We embrace diversity in all its forms, including race, ethnicity, disability, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. We strive to create an inclusive community where all feel welcome and supported.

Our goals:

  • To increase the number of CMH residents from underrepresented minority groups.

  • To provide support and mentorship to underrepresented minority residents in becoming outstanding pediatricians

Underrepresented Minority Recruitment

We strongly encourage qualified applications from groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine.  During your interview day at Children’s Mercy you will meet with a member of our URM leadership team for coffee to discuss our diversity efforts and mentorship opportunities throughout your residency.

Children's Mercy Office of Equity and Diversity


Selected Under-Represented Minority Faculty Biographies


Vickie Blanco, MD – Dr. Vickie Blanco is an Assistant Clinical Professor in Urgent Care who finished her pediatric residency at Children’s Mercy in 2019 where she was a participant in the Global Health track and CHICOS clinic. She was born in Argentina and grew up in a bilingual home, which has helped her become certified as a Spanish speaking provider. She attended medical school at The University of Kansas School of Medicine. 


Ayanda Chakawa, PhD 
– Dr. Ayanda Chakawa is an Assistant Clinical Professor having completed a fellowship in Clinical Child Psychology at Children’s Mercy. She graduated in August 2018 from Auburn University with her PhD in Clinical Psychology. Her clinical and research interests include cultural competence in mental health treatment, clinical assessment, and program development and community-based interventions to address barriers to mental health access and treatment seeking. 


July Jean Cuevas, MD – Dr. Jean Cuevas is a former fellow in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics and now a faculty member in the Developmental-Behavioral Sciences department. She finished Pediatric Residency in New York in 2015 and completed medical school in the Dominican Republic. Her current interests include mental health in minorities, autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.



Milton A. Fowler, MD
Senior Medical Director, Outreach and Regional Practices; Associate Division Director; Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine

Dr. Fowler is the Senior Medical Director of Outreach and Regional Practices. He also serves as the Associate Division Director of the Emergency Department at Children’s Mercy Kansas. Dr. Fowler leads the clinical outreach efforts as Senior Medical Director for Outreach and Regional Practices. He plays an integral role in growing relationships in the region, supporting and advocating for the physicians in our regional centers, assessing areas for growth or improvement, and delivering the message to all regional providers that Children’s Mercy is a good faith partner.


Bridgette L. Jones, MD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine

Dr. Jones joined the faculty in 2011 with combined appointments in Allergy/Immunology and Clinical Pharmacology where she participates in teaching, research, and clinical services . She is the Assistant Program Director for the Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology fellowship program. Her research focus is discrimination of asthma phenotypes in guiding therapeutic treatment for asthma/allergic disease.


Tamorah R. Lewis, MD, PhD

Neonatologist; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine

Dr. Lewis joined the faculty in 2013 with combined appointments in Neonatology and Clinical Pharmacology. She is an attending in the Children’s Mercy NICU where she teaches many of the third year pediatric residents. Her research involves neonatal pharmacology and neonatal clinical trials. 



Felix A. Okah, MD
Neonatologist; Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine

Dr. Okah has been on the Neonatology faculty since 2002. In addition to his clinical responsibilities in the NICU, he serves as an Assistant Dean at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine. His research focuses on perinatal epidemiology using existing databases, especially fetal/neonatal outcomes associated with the health behaviors of pregnant women. 



Select Trainee Biographies

Jamesia Durden, MD – Dr. Jamesia Durden started her Med/Peds residency in 2014 and is now a Neonatology fellow. She is mentored by Dr. Lewis and has worked on multiple neonatal research projects during her residency. She attended medical school at Meharry Medical College.



Danielle Gonzales, MD – Dr. Gonzales started her Pediatric Residency in 2016, her career plans include Neonatology Fellowship and Academic Medicine.  Since starting residency, she has been elected by her peers to the Housestaff Council and Graduate Medical Education Committee.  She is also a participant in several other committees including, NICU Code Blue Committee, Recruitment Committee and the Resident and Medical Student Education Committees.  She is a participant in the Global Health track and she is involved in Neonatology research.  She and a co-resident were recent recipients of a CATCH grant for a project aimed at increasing children’s daily intake of healthy produce.  She attended medical school at the University of Colorado.


April McNeill, MD – Dr. April McNeill is a fellow in the Children’s Mercy Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship after completing her Categorical Pediatrics Residency in 2019 where she was a participant in the Advocacy Track. She attended medical school at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. 


Employee Resource Groups

  • LGBTQ Employee Resource Group

  • African-American Employee Resource Group

Both groups were launched in 2017 with the ultimate goal of:

  • Fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with Children’s Mercy's organizational mission, vision, values, and goals

  • Harnessing the talents and engaging the productive energy of our employees 

  • Providing opportunities for professional growth and development