EXCLUSIVE: Meet The Activist Academic Bringing Diversity Policies And Critical Race Theory To Medical Schools

(Screenshot, The University of New Mexico School of Medicine, YouTube)

James Lynch Contributor
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A single activist psychologist has implemented left-wing policies on race and healthcare across three different medical schools.

Dr. Anita Fernander, a trained psychologist and academic, has spread left-wing ideology across three medical schools by overseeing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs and teaching students about “equity” in the medical profession, documents obtained by the Daily Caller show. (RELATED: Law School Holds Mandatory Diversity, Equity And Inclusion Session For First-Year Students)

Fernander is the executive diversity officer and a professor in the department of family and community medicine at the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) School of Medicine. The UNM medical school is part of its broader Health Sciences Center (HSC) combining academics and research with patient care.

“She has been engaged in leadership, teaching, research, and community engagement to address health inequities, enhance patient advocacy through cultural humility as a de-biasing strategy, and exploring transformational interventions to address historical and contemporary racism embedded in the political and social determinants of health,” her bio states.

She received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Miami in 2000 with a focus on clinical health psychology.

Fernander’s annual salary for both positions at UNM is a combined $243,915 and her primary duties are related to her DEI work at UNM, an acceptance letter obtained by the Daily Caller indicates.


“Your effort distribution for the first year of your appointment will be 0.80 FTE Administration as the SOM Executive Diversity Officer (EDO) and 0.20 FTE in the Department of Family and Community Medicine,” the offer letter reads.

FTE refers to Full Time Employment and her total FTE is 1.0. Fernander’s DEI responsibilities cover a wide range of initiatives spanning hiring, education, research, accountability and networking. Her task for each initiative is to address apparent issues concerning a variety of diversity groups.

“Lead DEI strategic, innovative initiatives to address ongoing and emerging issues ( e.g. Native American/Indigenous, Anti-Racism/-Ethnoracism, LGBTQ+, Women’s, Latina/o/x, Hispanic or of Spanish Origin+ (LHS+), Disability, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African-American, DACA) throughout the SO M’s operations. Identify areas of opportunity, develop recommended courses of action, drive implementation, and conduct process and outcome evaluations,” the letter specifies.

Fernander has written academic literature about incorporating critical race theory (CRT) into medicine, including a 2022 paper published in the Journal of the National Medical Association arguing for the necessity of understanding CRT to address “health inequities” and disparities between racial groups.

CRT is a worldview instructing people to view every social interaction through the lens of race and claims America is an irredeemably racist nation. Numerous medical schools across America have implemented CRT into courses and training.


“The application of CRT in academic medicine provides a contextual medium for understanding health disparities and addressing healthcare inequities experienced among racialized populations in the U.S., particularly among Native Americans and Blacks/African Americans,” Fernander’s paper asserts.

She later scheduled a workshop on CRT in medicine with another UNM school of medicine professor covering the topics she addresses in the paper, emails show. The hour-long seminar took place in February 2023 and Fernander gave a lengthy presentation on CRT and applying it to medicine.

“CRT is an analytical and critical approach to understand how racialized historical context influences contemporary society and structures,” Fernander said in her portion addressing supposed myths related to CRT. She claimed it is not being taught in public schools, despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary.

“CRT should be applied within academic medicine to provide context for understanding and addressing racial health disparities,” a slide in her presentation says.

Fernander blamed “racist structures” in a separate paper on why black populations were more likely to die from COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus is shown to disproportionately harm the elderly and obese people. The obesity rate among black Americans is higher than among white Americans.

Fernander’s other academic work focuses primarily on smoking habits and associated health outcomes within various black populations and how racism purportedly causes stress and bad health outcomes for black Americans. She has authored more than 30 papers and has 800 citations throughout her career, according to ResearchGate.

In January 2023, Fernander emailed a “recruitment roadmap” to Kathleen Reyes, the director of DEI and a professor at the UNM Medical School’s Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine.

The UNM HSC office of DEI created “recruitment roadmap” for building an “equitable and inclusive” medical profession by deploying an “equity advisor” to consult on hiring searches and deliver trainings about “microaggressions” and “bias” in the recruitment process, a presentation obtained by the Daily Caller shows.

Search committee members are required to undergo “implicit bias” trainings and advised to bring up potential “bias” in committee meetings. Markers of DEI range from community outreach work to research service and letters of recommendation, the presentation says.


Fernander did not respond to a request for comment. UNM told the Daily Caller it supports DEI unequivocally in response to questions about Fernander’s activism and academic work.

“A key mission of The University of New Mexico Health and Health Sciences is to advance diversity, equity, and inclusivity in our clinical, research, and academic units. We believe a health care workforce should reflect the diverse communities it serves. We are proud of UNM‘s commitment to programs, missions, and services that promote equality,” UNM Health and Health Sciences Communications Director Chris Ramirez told the Caller in a statement.

The UNM documents were provided to the Daily Caller by Do No Harm (DNH), a group of medical professionals opposed to the injection of identity politics in medicine. DNH used state level public records requests to obtain the documents from UNM.

“Do No Harm has been sounding the alarm on the infiltration of the medical education system by virulent politicized ideologies since our launch in 2022. The path of a single professor who infused her DEI agenda throughout three public universities in three states demonstrates how these contentious philosophies, which contribute nothing to the development of medical students into competent doctors, infect everything they touch,” DNH Program Manager Laura Morgan told the Caller in a statement.

“Taxpayer funds are better spent on initiatives that advance excellence and ability in caring for patients based on their unique needs instead of ideologically driven programs that seek to drive merit and equality from healthcare. There is still a lot more work to be done to eliminate the DEI virus from medical schools, and we will continue to call out schemes that exist only to indoctrinate students and faculty in discriminatory concepts,” Morgan added.

Prior to her arrival at UNM in November 2022, Fernander helped inaugurate and expand DEI programs to two other medical schools.

She was previously the inaugural chief officer for justice, equity, diversity & inclusion (JEDI) and interim department chair & professor in the department of population health at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.

She joined FAU in June of 2021 after spending nearly 19 years as a professor at the University of Kentucky (UK) where she was the DEI Director and an Associate Professor in the UK College of Medicine’s Department of Behavioral Science. FAU declined to comment.

She taught annual courses on “health equity” at UK and served as a health equity and advocac leader to bolster the amount of “equity” in the medical school curriculum, according to a farewell press release by the UK medical school.

Fernander launched a White Coats for Black Lives (WCBL) fellowship at UK and became a core faculty member of its Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET) founded in 2018. In 2023, CHET had over $100 million of “health equity” annual grant funding and four “health equity” training programs, according to a report detailing the center’s growth over a five year period.

WCBL is a medical activist organization inspired by Black Lives Matter (BLM) devoted to “transformative change” in medicine by “dismantling dominant, exploitative systems in the United States” and “rebuilding a future that supports the health and well-being of marginalized communities,” its website states.

TOPSHOT – Doctors, nurses and other health care workers participate in a “White Coats for Black Lives” event in solidarity with George Floyd and other black Americans killed by police officers, at the Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina, California on June 11, 2020. George Floyd’s killing by a police officer touched off worldwide protests over racial and social injustice. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo by MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

WCBL previously called for police to be abolished on campuses, in hospitals and broader communities in its 2020-21 report card. In June 2020, WCBL called for medical schools to sever ties with local law enforcement.

In addition, Fernander founded the UK medical school’s Black Boys and Men in Medicine (BBAMM), a mentorship program intended solely for black males beginning in kindergarten and extending through medical residency. The program started in 2019 and it was resumed in 2022 after the covid-19 pandemic. UK did not respond to a request for comment.


DNH senior fellow Mark Perry filed a civil rights complaint in November 2023 with the Philadelphia Office for Civil Rights (OCR) accusing BBAMM of illegally discriminating based on race and sex.

“In violation of Title IX, the College’s BBAMM program illegally excludes and discriminates against non-female individuals based on their sex and gender identity. In violation of Title VI, the College’s BBAMM program illegally excludes and discriminates against non-Black individuals based on their race, color, or national origin,” the complaint reads.

Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments prohibits sex discrimination in education programs and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act bans discrimination based on race, color and national origin.

It’s unclear if the Department of Education (DOE) will take action to address Perry’s complaint.


Editor’s note: This piece was clarified to further explain Dr. Fernander’s positions.