Riveredge Hospital Chief Executive Officer Allison Davenport was recognized as a “notable executive of color in health care” by Crain’s Chicago Business earlier this month.
Davenport, who only ascended to the CEO role in September 2021, was one of 34 executives feted by Crain’s, which described the honorees as “breaking new ground” in their field.
“They led their organizations through the response to COVID, securing personal protective equipment, implementing protocols and ensuring the safety of patients and staff,” Crain’s writers Judith Crown and Lisa Bertagnoli explained. “With heightened awareness over racial inequality, they established or expanded diversity programs. And they led initiatives to educate physicians and staff on unconscious bias and the impact of racism on health.”
Davenport told the Review that it was an “immense honor … to be recognized among such a prestigious group of healthcare leaders of color.”
“As an African-American woman in the healthcare field, I absolutely recognize and I welcome the opportunity and the responsibility to serve our robust and diverse communities and the patients that entrust us with their care,” she said.
Davenport has spent five years in the administration at Riveredge and also worked for two years as the CEO of Brynn Marr Hospital in Jacksonville, North Carolina during her 15-year career. Riveredge, 8311 Roosevelt Rd., Forest Park, bills itself as “the largest freestanding psychiatric hospital in the state of Illinois” and offers behavioral health services for a wide range of patients.
“I’m proud to dedicate my career to this field and proud to lead teams that have supported the community in better understanding mental health needs and encouraging the community on how to strengthen their support,” Davenport said.
Her most recent leadership experience, of course, has come during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the country continues to assess the fallout from the mass trauma of the last two years, Davenport sees a silver lining in the way the public now perceives mental illness.
“At this point, there has been a reduction in stigma; people are beginning to be more comfortable sharing their mental health needs and understanding it. They are becoming more comfortable talking about their needs and addressing their needs, and it’s wonderful to see that happening,” she said.
“Yes, the [pandemic] has been challenging but I believe that the pandemic has meant that [mental health] is ultimately impossible to ignore. It has been so challenging that we have no choice but to seek to understand,” said Davenport.
To view a complete list of the Crain’s honorees, visit chicagobusiness.com/awards/crains-2022-notable-executives-color-health-care.