Baystate Health’s commitment to help employees lift up their talent and unleash their potential got an unexpected boost from Baystate Health Foundation donors Lyman and Leslie Wood. They offered to fund an English language program for employees interested in advancing their careers by improving their English communication skills. Could Baystate Health develop such a program?
Yemisi Oloruntola-Coates, chief Diversity and Inclusion officer at Baystate Health, who has experience creating English programs for speakers of other languages, said yes, and spearheaded the initiative with Kathleen Bronner, director of Philanthropy, and Kara Wolf, Diversity & Inclusion consultant. They collaborated with Baystate Health colleagues and with the International Language Institute (ILI) in Northampton to develop a 12-week program to be taught by ILI during work hours at Baystate Medical Center.
Applicants for the pilot program were recruited from Hospitality Services, with invitations extended to a few others. Sixteen employees stepped up to the challenge and committed themselves to attend every class in the program. On Oct. 16, the first class to be supported by the Lyman & Leslie Wood Language Education Fund met the Woods at a kick-off celebration and new program orientation. They shared their personal stories of what led them to take the course, their excitement about the program and the prospects of a graduation fiesta to mark their success. One student shared, “I’m practicing already. I told my friends to text me in English!”
Reprinted from Baystate Health Foundation newsletter, Winter 2019