Karen Francis

Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer

Dr. Karen Francis is a vice president and the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Officer at AIR. In this role, she leads AIR’s overall DEI efforts through the implementation of the DEI framework and strategic pillars focused on workforce and work environment; cultural and linguistic competence; identity, brand, and thematic research; and growth and sustainability to advance AIR’s mission. Additionally, Dr. Francis focuses on developing internal and external partnerships to drive AIR’s global DEI presence. She provides oversight for the DEI Office, employee resource groups, the DEI Council and the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Workgroup. She partners with other senior leadership and staff across AIR to drive organizational accountability around inclusivity, equity, and fairness at all levels. Dr. Francis serves as an expert panelist for the 2021 Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Benchmarks.

Dr. Francis is a medical sociologist by training and has grounded her work in the principles of cultural competence and a commitment to address disparities across social, health, juvenile justice, and educational service systems. She has extensive experience working in diverse communities and across multiple human service systems with expertise in the areas of strategic planning, research, cultural and linguistic competence, and the utilization of data-driven approaches that she leverages in her DEI role at AIR. She continues to lead and champion AIR’s internal metrics-based growth and sustainability of DEI and AIR’s external presence of DEI in the field. Dr, Francis has authored and coauthored several publications that focus on cultural and linguistic competence and its practical application for service delivery.

Dr. Francis is active in her community as evidenced by her service on the Caribbean American Advisory Group of Montgomery County, Maryland, and the Board of Prime-Time Sister Circles® an evidenced-based intervention focused on women’s health and well-being. She formerly served on the Montgomery County, Maryland’s Commission on Juvenile Justice and as a commissioner on the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Affairs where she led initiatives to promote health literacy and access to health and behavioral health services. In 2023, Dr. Francis was named to the Howard University, Graduate School Board of Visitors.

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Ph.D, Medical Sociology, Howard University