Meet Our Award Winners: Sharon D. Gates - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Meet Our Award Winners: Sharon D. Gates

August 17, 2022

Lifetime Achievement Award
Sharon D. Gates

Sharon Gates, D.S.W., is a Chicago-based leader in the nonprofit sector. She has been a longtime employee of the Rush University Medical Center where she works in both the academic and corporate wings of the hospital’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) department. Dr. Gates has focused her career on addressing the social determinants of health, particularly housing, food insecurity, and workforce development.

At Rush, Dr. Gates works closely with students to support their academic journeys, particularly for those who hail from communities that are underrepresented in the health care field. “Supporting students in their successful journey in health care by providing them with the education, experiences, and opportunities to better serve the community characterizes my work over the years,” she says. “It excites me to hear their innovative ideas to fill the gaps that exist in the community and to connect them with resources to be successful in their efforts to affect the social determinants of health in the lives of people in Chicago.”

For nine years, graduating Rush University medical students have chosen Dr. Gates to perform their hooding ceremony. “This is an honor reserved for one individual who has had the greatest impact on students’ lives,” she shares. She also oversees a student-run program — which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2021 — that advances access to health care, pipeline programs, and educational outreach in the local community.

Over the coming years, Dr. Gates plans to increase efforts in educating students on DEI, educate the community on ways to prevent chronic illnesses (particularly those that impact the underserved), and inspire Rush students to continue this work beyond the completion of their academic degree.

“We are intentional in our work through pipeline programming and exposure of health care to our youth,” she reflects on Rush’s efforts to increase the enrollment of students of color. “Our commitment is to see that the diversity of health care providers is more reflective of the people served.”

Dr. Gates is the recipient of Rush University’s Henry P. Russe, M.D., Humanitarian Award, the Robert Clapp Diversity Leadership Award, the Leonias H. Berry Faculty Diversity Award, and the Larry J. Goodman Leadership Award. She recently received the Humanitarian Award from the I AM ABEL Foundation for her work supporting students.

Dr. Gates has earned a degree in public administration from Roosevelt University; a Master of Arts from The University of Chicago in Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Service Administration; and most, recently, her doctorate degree in social work from the University of Southern California.