Anthony Cunningham: Black History as American and World History

Anthony Cunningham is Vice President of Patient Financial Services at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

Anthony Cunningham is Vice President of Patient Financial Services at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. He is also Vice President of Professional Business Operations for Atrium Health with oversight of Physician Accounts Receivable Management. He started work at our organization in August 2018.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

When I think of Black History Month, I think of American, and World History and the contributions made by Black people. Everyone’s history contributes to all the accomplishments made throughout history to get us where we are as a society. The day when all people view Black History as American and World History will be the day when our societies no longer see the color of the contribution but rather the importance of the contribution. That should be everyone’s endgame.

Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. Who is a leader that inspires you and why?

My mentor was a very special man. Despite not being African American, he understood the importance of diversification of our workplaces, environments and society as a whole. Devoting much of his professional life as a Human Resources Executive for Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, George H. Kaye was integral in changing my life and the lives of others. This was not accomplished by making us feel as though we were dependent on support from others. Instead, he accomplished this by providing guidance and insights and by opening doors that we may not have been privy to opening ourselves. In doing so, Mr. Kaye set the foundation for many of us to demonstrate to all that would look past the color of our skin to see and embrace the unique thoughts and the capabilities we possessed and potential as individuals. This helped us all to flourish in whatever endeavor we were seeking. I will always view his dedication and passion to Diversity and Inclusion as an inspiration because there was nothing in it for him other than leaving the world in a much better place than it was prior. For that, I and so many others are truly grateful and hopefully continue to live out his vision for a world of equity and inclusion.

At Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, we create a space where ALL Belong. How do you see Wake Forest Baptist fostering an environment where ALL Belong?

Over my four plus years here at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, I have seen us take many strides to create a space where we ALL belong. Step one has been creating awareness of not only our present, but also our past as the story of Wake Forest Baptist has helped shape where things stand today. This awareness has also served as the foundation for understanding where we need to go and the journey ahead of us. The intentionality around bringing attention to our opportunities for improvement have been refreshing. Also to see our most executive leaders buy in to the importance of this work is also very promising. There is much more to be done to ensure all people inclusive of race, religion, sexuality, class, etc., truly feel the sense of belonging. Wake Forest Baptist is investing the time and resources to position us to live the Culture Commitment of creating a space where ALL belong. That step means the most to me not only as a diverse teammate and leader, but as a person.