The Office of Diversity Programs staff is here to help. Find out more about us below.

Will R. Ross, MD, MPH

Associate Dean for Diversity
Principal Officer for Community Partnerships
Alumni Endowed Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology


Will Ross, MD, MPH, is associate dean for diversity, principal officer for community partnerships, and alumni endowed professor of medicine in the Nephrology Division at Washington University School of Medicine.  For over twenty-five years Dr. Ross has developed innovative medical school pipeline programs and recruited and developed a diverse workforce of medical students, residents and faculty.  He has promoted health equity locally, nationally and globally through collaborations with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and public health officials in Ethiopia and Haiti. He recently co-developed an undergraduate program in public health in Haiti. As a public health and health policy leader, Dr. Ross focuses on systems integration and conceptual frameworks to reduce health-care disparities. He is a co-founder of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Center for Diversity and Cultural Competence (now the BJC Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and served on the task force that created the Washington University Institute for Public Health, while serving as co-director of the new MD/MPH program. He served as vice chair of the Washington University Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. Within the St. Louis community, he has been instrumental in redesigning local access to health care for the underserved as the founder of the former Saturday Free Health Clinic and co-founder of Casa de Salud Latino Health Center. Dr. Ross is also advisory board chair and founding member of the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, a magnet health professions high school in St. Louis. 

Dr. Ross previously served as the chief medical officer and director of community health clinics for the St. Louis Regional Medical Center, a safety-net hospital in St. Louis. In 2001 he was appointed a charter and founding member, and recently strategic planning chair, of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission, which has leveraged over $500 million dollars to St. Louis to maintain an integrated network of safety net primary care clinics and public health services.  He served as Chairman of the board of directors of the Missouri Foundation for Health, where he directed the Foundation’s creation of the nonprofit organization, Health Literacy Media, of which he serves as vice-chair.  He served on the Institute of Medicine’s Health Literacy Roundtable, where he evaluated health literacy efforts at the international level. He is former Chairman of the boards of the Mid America Transplant Foundation and the St. Louis City Board of Health, and a past member of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Health Disparities Committee, where he helped incorporate social determinants of health in the CDC promotions framework and Healthy People 2020.  In 2019 he was appointed to the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, where he co-chaired the partnership’s strategic planning.  He currently serves as chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Advancing Holistic Review Committee, and is a founding associate editor of the public health journal, Frontiers in Public Health Education and Promotion

Dr. Ross has numerous scientific publications and is co-author of two books, Poverty and Place, published in 2019 by Lexington Press, and Charting the Path Forward for Low Income Women of Color, published in 2022 by Oxford University Press. He has received several distinguished honors and awards, including the 2005 State of Missouri Dr. Martin Luther King Distinguished Service in Medicine Award, the 2009 Washington University Medical Center Alumni Faculty Achievement Award, the 2013 Samuel Goldstein Leadership in Medical Education Award, the 2022 American College of Physician’s Oscar E. Edwards Memorial Award for Volunteerism and Community Service, and faculty induction into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health.  He is the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Scientist Trustee Award from the Academy of Science of St. Louis. A graduate of Yale University, he completed medical school at Washington University School of Medicine, an Internal Medicine residency at Vanderbilt University, and a Renal Fellowship at Washington University.  He completed a Master of Science in Epidemiology at Saint Louis University School of Public Health.

Read a message from Dr. Ross addressing diversity at the university »

Lisa Stevenson, MBA

Assistant Dean for Student Diversity and Engagement


As the assistant dean for student diversity and engagement, Lisa Stevenson directs the planning, implementation and evaluation of key initiatives integral to the Office’s mission to prepare a diverse student body to become leaders in a vibrant, global society.

Leading the effort to recruit and retain students from groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine, she serves on the Committee on Admissions and works closely with the School’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA), Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and the LGBTQ Med student groups.

Read about SNMA, LMSA and the LGBTQ student groups »

She worked as a human resource consultant and analyst before moving on to the position of associate director of multicultural recruitment at Washington University’s Danforth Campus. In 1997, she joined the Office of Diversity Programs at the School of Medicine.

Ms. Stevenson earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard University and a master’s of business administration from Washington University in St. Louis through a fellowship from the Consortium Graduate Study in Management, an organization that fosters diversity and inclusion in American business.

Read a message from Dean Stevenson welcoming students »

Liz Riggs

Project/Program Coordinator

As a Chicago native (go Cubs!), Liz has spent close to ten years residing in both St. Louis City and currently in the Metro East. While here, she has come to find out that she loves Ted Drewes ice cream, gooey butter cake, the St. Louis Zoo and that the weather in St. Louis is just as unpredictable as in Chicago.

Liz received her bachelor’s in Psychology and Sociology at Illinois Wesleyan University and her master’s in School Counseling at St. Louis University. While in St. Louis, she has spent the majority of her professional career working with diverse populations. From both personal and professional experiences, Liz understands the importance of education to improve one’s quality of life and the adversity that certain groups face in the educational system. She has spent a number of years in the special education classroom and the past three years as an elementary school counselor in North County. Her focus and passion has always been to work and foster resiliency with underrepresented populations in the educational setting.

Liz is looking forward to using her experiences from working with the K-12 student populations to now supporting diverse higher education learners at Washington University School of Medicine. She is also excited at the prospect of growing both professionally and to support the continued efforts of the Office of Diversity Programs. Even though she is currently working behind the scenes in the ODP; Liz continues her work as an educator by teaching beginning ESL (English as a Second Language) to adult learners residing in West County.

Joareliz Peña Martínez

Administrative Assistant

As the Administrative Assistant for the Office of Diversity Programs at Washington University School of Medicine, Joa plays a pivotal role in supporting a mission dedicated to cultivating a diverse and inclusive community.

Being a member of a minority community, Joa’s personal journey has profoundly influenced her dedication to diverse fields. Throughout her career, she has navigated various roles, fostering a deep passion for promoting student success and diversity. From collaborating with student organizations to instructing as an English as a Second Language online educator, Joa’s background reflects a steadfast commitment to inclusivity.

Joa’s educational journey and professional experiences converge to fuel her dedication to fostering student success and diversity. As an integral part of the Office of Diversity Programs, her focus is on contributing to the recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented groups in medicine. Drawing from her diverse experiences, she is committed to creating an inclusive environment that empowers students to thrive.

Joa is honored to be a part of a community that places a high value on diversity and inclusion, eagerly anticipating the continuation of her work in supporting the university’s unwavering commitment to health equity and inclusivity.

Contact us

Phone: 314-362-6854