Portrait Campaign Celebrates Diversity Across Cancer Services

By Karen Gehrman | June 01, 2022

See Us Portrait Project

This month, a new visual campaign will brighten up many clinical spaces around the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The Cancer Center See Us Portrait Project features a series of portraits and quotes by faculty and staff who are dedicated leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and exhibit PRIDE values at the Cancer Center. 

The portraits are being displayed on the digital screens in the waiting areas of the Bakar Precision Cancer Medicine Building at Mission Bay, while physical posters which include Chinese, Russian, and Spanish translations are mounted at the Mount Zion campus. The full project can be viewed online at https://cancer.ucsf.edu/see-us.  A digital display at Parnassus is in discussion and will be announced soon.

Sam Washington See Us
Artie Tingle See Us Portrait Project


For Laurel Bray-Hanin, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Cancer Services at UCSF Health, the portrait project marks a significant milestone by the UCSF Cancer Services’ Anti-Racism Committee’s Workforce Development Group. "With inspiration from a 2021 campaign of the same name at Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, we are able to demonstrate our commitment and embracement of diversity in the workplace. It is a thoughtful and beautiful project, and it makes me proud and grateful to the team who made it possible."

As with the Benioff project, participants at the Cancer Center were selected by staff members who nominated fellow employees who identify as underrepresented minorities and who embody PRIDE values. The Workforce Development Taskforce, along with faculty lead Dr. Michael Rabow, identified final nominees to reflect a range of job titles, genders, and race/ethnicity. 

Lindsay Williams, project coordinator and administrative director in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Parnassus, believes the See Us campaign celebrates the diversity that makes UCSF strong as a community. The project is being launched in June to align with the observance of Juneteenth, the national holiday that commemorates the freedom of enslaved people in the United States following the Civil War. 

Lindsay Williams

"It is important now, more than ever, to not only shine a bright light on our colleagues underrepresented in healthcare, but also to uplift, listen to, and respect their voices."
-Lindsay Williams

Cancer Center participants appreciate the positive impact the project can have on patients and employees. Valerie Hewlett, authorization coordinator in Radiation Oncology hopes the project "will bring awareness to people who look like me, to know that UCSF has a very strong, diverse, trustworthy group that is here to serve our people with the best health care experience." For medical assistant Kendra Smith, "The impact I hope the portrait project will have at the Cancer Center or across UCSF is that at our best we're all patients and students."

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Inspiration from Across the Bay

See Us at Benioff Childrens Hospital Oakland

The See Us Portrait Project on display at Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland in spring of 2021.

The Cancer Center effort was inspired by the Benioff Children’s Hospital’s See Us Portrait Project which began as an internal engagement campaign to boost employee PRIDE at the Oakland campus. It was conceived in late 2020 by Dr. Julie Saba and Dr. Marsha Treadwell, members of the newly formed Black Caucus, a committee of staff and faculty from all levels of the organization, and launched in anticipation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in 2021 to rave reviews from employees.

Abdur Shemsu, assistant director of corporate partnerships at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Foundation, coordinated the initial Benioff campaign which featured seventeen staff who were selected to honor diversity, equity, and inclusion on the walls of the hospital.

Based on the positive reception of the original BCH project, Shemsu is not surprised to see the project gaining popularity across the enterprise. “What started out as a small project in 2020 to diversify the all-white male portraits on the walls of BCH-Oakland has taken on a life of its own, with many taking this opportunity to highlight BIPOC doctors, nurses, and staff who work diligently behind the scenes to provide exceptional care, without any recognition or accolades.” 

Concurrent with the Cancer Center project launch, the BCH has announced the See Us Project expansion to Mission Bay, which was funded in part by a Community Wellbeing Grant from UCSF Campus Life Services. At the Cancer Center, the Workforce Development Taskforce also plans to expand the project, adding new participants to rotating portraits and quotes throughout the year, and considering additional locations to display the project.

For interest in participation, or more information about the existing campaigns, contact Lindsay Williams at the Cancer Center or Abdur Shemsu at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals.