AOA Focuses on Diversity in the Orthopaedic Community

The AOA Executive Committee, recognizing the lack of diversity in the profession of orthopaedics as a critical issue, approved the incorporation of diversity initiatives into the organization’s strategic priorities.

The priorities include:


Charles Nelson, MD, FAOA

Lisa Lattanza, MD, FAOA
  • Collaborating on diversity efforts.
  • Increasing focus on the importance of diversity and providing leadership development programming to orthopaedic surgeons of all career stages.
  • Supporting orthopaedic residency programs to expand diversity tools and education.

Charles L. Nelson, MD, FAOA and Lisa Lattanza, MD, FAOA serve as AOA's Diversity Liaisons. These individuals coordinate diversity content/activities within AOA programs and serve as advocates for increasing gender, racial, and ethnic diversity throughout AOA programming. They liaise with other organizations to explore opportunities of collaboration and serve as AOA’s information source for important and relevant opportunities to expand and/or partner on diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Progress continues to be made to accomplish these goals.  In 2020, the AOA will deliver the following initiatives:

  • Community Outreach Project - For the third year, the AOA will partner with the Boys & Girls Club - this time in Baltimore to introduce young adults to orthopaedics.  We thank the Baltimore Marriott, who will help support this activity with a generous donation of food and beverage for the event.
  • Perry Initiative - In 2020, the AOA will collaborate with the Perry Initiative to deliver a Medical School Outreach Program.  James Ficke, MD, FAOA will serve as our local host and work with AOA's diversity liaisons to help deliver this event.
  • AOA is actively working with Movement is Life to develop an offering to educate residents and fellows on healthcare disparities.

2018 Highlights

Howard Steel Lecturer – Race, Athletics, and Education

The Howard H. Steel Orthopaedic Foundation funds lectureships on any subject except for orthopaedics or medicine—reflecting Dr. Steel’s own interests and achievements as a Renaissance man. Professor Onaje X.O. Woodbine, PhD was the 2018 Howard H. Steel Lecturer. His presentation was a dramatic, profound and emotional narrative of survival and self-determination in a culture where basketball is lived as religion. While speaking to an audience of primarily Caucasian males, Professor Woodbine provided insight into the importance of basketball for young kids in Roxbury, Brookline and other similar communities. Several students from the Boston area Boys & Girls Club attended this presentation.


Community Outreach Project
Working in conjunction with Professor Woodbine, students from the Boys & Girls Club of Boston attended the AOA Opening Ceremony and participated in an intimate session led by AOA Members: Jasmin McGinty, MD, FAOA; Scott E. Porter, MD, MBA, FACS, FAOA; Melvyn A. Harrington Jr., MD, FAOA; Robert H. Wilson, MD, FAOA; Charles L. Nelson, MD, FAOA; Toni M. McLaurin, MD, FAOA; Amy L. Ladd, MD, FAOA; and E. Anthony Rankin, MD, FAOA. These AOA Members shared personal stories, insights and encouragement from their journey through college, to medical school and into orthopaedics.  Read all about this event in the Fall issue of AOA News.

2018 Symposia 
Dr. Melvyn Harrington moderated a panel consisting of E. Anthony Rankin, MD, FAOA; Amy L. Ladd, MD, FAOA; and Bonnie Simpson Mason, MD. The session entitled, “Why Isn't the Orthopaedic Workforce as Diverse as the Population it Serves? Where are the Minorities and Women?” explored the lack of gender and racial diversity within the field of orthopaedic surgery.

During the session “True Grit in Leadership” moderators Julie Samora, MD, PhD, MPH and Kristy L. Weber, MD, FAOA shared challenges and insight into being a female in a male-dominant profession. While these conversations can be difficult, they are important in changing the culture and taking action.

AOA/JBJS Co-Branded Webinar, “Achieving Diversity in Orthopaedics: Taking Action to Drive Change” took place November 14, 2018. A recording of the webinar is available hereOrthopaedics Today featured an article with Mary O’Connor, MD, FAOA. covering some of the topics discussed.

2019 Highlights


In 2019, the AOA symposium entitled, “Expanding Diversity Need Not Compromise Quality: What Can We Learn From the Military?” was presented by Anthony Johnson, MD, FACS, FAOA.  The 2019 Summer CORD Conference had a symposium, “Mentoring Under-Represented Students,” which was moderated by Melvyn Harrington, MD, FAOA.  

Diversity Workshop
The AOA’s 2019 Leadership Institute was a Diversity Workshop led by Michelle Guy, MD designed to create diversity champions. Tools were provided for participants to return to their institutions with tangible resources to take action.

Community Outreach Projects
To continue on the successful community outreach project that took place in 2018, AOA members met with young adults from the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego in 2019 to talk about the journey to a career in orthopaedics. 

Other activities will continue to evolve as we strive to ensure orthopaedic surgeons in the future look more like the patients we serve.

How Can You Help?

In order to set realistic diversity goals and measure exactly where we stand, the AOA needs more accurate information from members. Please login to the AOA website and update the "Gender" and "Ethnicity" sections of your profile. Click here for the step-by-step instructions