After nearly a year-long search, the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) has announced its new Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI), and Professional Integrity: Don S. Dizon, MD, who is currently Chair of the organization’s Digital Engagement Committee. Dr. Dizon is Director of the Pelvic Malignancies Program at Lifespan Cancer Institute, Head of Community Outreach and Engagement at the Legorreta Cancer Center at Brown University, and Director of Medical Oncology at Rhode Island Hospital.
Don S. Dizon, MD
In his new role with SWOG, Dr. Dizon will provide strategic direction for leadership and staff in identifying and achieving DEI goals to make the group leadership and membership more diverse and to enroll more representative groups of participants to clinical trials.
Dr. Dizon has expressed a desire to “bring transparency into SWOG processes, so people who are interested see themselves as legitimate candidates for any opportunity SWOG has.” On this front, he believes, SWOG has a great foothold, since all its policies are open to the public. His second goal, he explained, is “how do we identify these DEI principles within SWOG, and how can we operationalize them with measurable endpoints?”
One priority is to create a DEI commitment statement that explains SWOG’s DEI principles and directions. This must be followed by the iterative process of embedding the principles of that statement into the organization’s work. “What I want to bring to SWOG in this role,” Dr. Dizon said, “is a lot of the principles that underlie implementation sciences: engaging stakeholders, identifying interventions, measuring endpoints.”
Consensus and Listening
Dr. Dizon seeks to integrate efforts by SWOG groups and committees and to ensure those efforts build on each other. “It will involve working with committee leadership—the recruitment and retention committee, the patient advocate committee, and others—so we can see where we are right now, then prioritize by consensus what we should be doing.”
The themes of consensus and listening to SWOG members recur regularly in Dr. Dizon’s conception of his new role. “One of the principles that underlies DEI initiatives is that every voice really does count. We may not all come to the table and sing Kumbaya,” he said, “and we may not all agree—that’s okay—it’s okay to have diverse opinions, but we need to work together with the understanding that mutual respect is assumed.”