Diversity & Inclusion Pioneer Brenda Cole to Leave Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

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Brenda Cole (Photo: Facebook)

WELLESLEY, MA—Brenda Cole, Vice President of Marketplace Inclusion Development at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care who supported many Indian and South Asian community organizations and events, including INDIA New England News and INE MultiMedia, is leaving the health care organization that she has been serving since 2012.

“Having had the opportunity to work in our Asian and Indian communities as part of Harvard Pilgrim’s Inclusion efforts not only introduced me to a culture different than my own, but it broadened my exposure to the phenomenal leadership, talent, and commitment to serving others that exist in these communities, and it exemplified some of my beliefs, for example, empathy, stewardship, awareness, and healing,” Ms. Cole told INDIA New England News. “I’ve learned so much about myself and the experience has added such great value to my life.”

Ms. Cole began her work at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in 2012 as Vice President of Customer Service and Sales Operations, and a year later moved into the role of Vice President of Marketplace Inclusion Development.

“My mission while working at HPHC was a mission that I had at every organization that I’ve ever worked for in my lifetime, and that was to uphold the core values that the company stood for,’ said Ms. Cole. “Of course, it was important to me that the values of any company that I worked for was aligned with my own personal values, such as integrity, excellence, purpose, compassion, a commitment to building strong communities, and a commitment to doing good for the whole.”

IAGB Vice President Sanjay Gowda

In addition to INDIA New England News, INE MultiMedia, Ms. Cole and HPHC supported a number of Indian-American organizations, including India Association of Greater Boston, United India Association and Vision Aid.

“Brenda Cole is a true believer in the importance of diversity in New England and has steadfastly stood behind several community organizations, including IAGB,” said IAGB President Aditi Taylor and IAGB Vice President Sanjay Gowda. “We are so grateful for her support and belief in our mission.”

Many Indian-Americans said that Ms. Cole put the diversity and inclusion on the map in both business and community.

Aditi Taylor

“I certainly cannot take credit for that, but I can say that HPHC was the first out of the gate to focus on our diverse populations in a very thoughtful and careful way, in understanding the value these communities bring to our business and to our overall efforts to represent all of the communities that we serve through our products, services, and programs, after all, it was our South Asian leaders and friends who helped to develop our Eastern Harmony Program which represented an offering of a  more holistic approach to health and wellness through meditation, acupuncture, Auryevedic medicine, mindfulness and other eastern medicine,” said Ms. Cole. “My journey has been one that has been eye opening in many ways, but one that presented an opportunity for growth, greater awareness, and humility.”

Manju Sheth

Dr. Manju Sheth, MD, president of INE MultiMedia and host of INDIA New England News’ popular celebrity video series Chai With Manju, said that Ms. Cole will be dearly missed in the Indian community.

“I had the good fortune to meet Brenda in 2012. She had started working at HPHC and I had joined media in the same year,” said Dr. Sheth. “Her encouragement and support was invaluable as we kicked off several new programs and initiatives like Health Expo, New England Choice Awards and of course, non-profit INE MultiMedia. She and colleague Rose were familiar faces at all our events. She has left her legacy in our community for sure.”

When asked how important diversity and inclusion are for ant business, Ms. Cole said that embracing and supporting diversity and inclusion to make a difference is not just a lip service and that it is not just the right thing to do.

“It has been proven that diversity and inclusion can help increase a business’ bottom line, drive innovation, attract more talent and create more opportunities for growth,” said Ms. Cole. It should not be something that some leaders and employees in the company embrace, but it should be embraced by everyone company-wide where each employee within the organization knows they are valued and, in return, is held accountable for their contribution to the culture. This is how organizations will enact the change that needs to happen.”

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