Q & A with Dana Powell Baker, President of The Society of Black Pathologists

Feb 21, 2024, 13:09 PM by Jordan Rosenfeld

Founded in 2020, the Society of Black Pathologists (SBP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing barriers to diversity and inclusion in pathology. The Society works to increase Black and underrepresented minorities in pathology, as well as offers mentorship for career and leadership development. It is also focused on expanding research in healthcare disparities.

Given that Black pathologists1 and laboratory professionals2 are still significantly less represented than their white peers in these professions, the need for the SBP has never been greater.

Critical Values spoke with its current president, Dana Powell Baker, EdD, MBA, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, about SBP’s vision for the future and her goals as the first non-MD President of the SBP.

Critical Values (CV): You’re the first non-MD president of the Society of Black Pathologists. What has this experience been like so far and why is it important to have a laboratory professional in this role?
Dana Powell Baker (DPB): I am, of course, honored that the organization entrusted me to serve in this capacity, as we are still growing as a society. I come into it very humble, knowing that I have very big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of not just one, but two founding members for the society, both Dr. Carla Ellis and Dr. Nicole Jackson. I also fully embrace the opportunity of being able to expand the meaningfulness of this society, not just with new pathologist members, but also to laboratory professionals. I enter this role with the strong belief that we are stronger together and together we will thrive as an organization. I hope to make a lasting impact and I am incredibly thankful for the SBP officers, committee chairs, and volunteers for their impactful efforts in supporting SBP.

CV: How do you leverage your unique perspective as a laboratory professional?
DPB: I think the unique roles or positions I've held as a laboratory professional—such as serving as a former chair of the ASCP Council of Laboratory Professionals and being a member of the board of directors— really lend themselves to this role. For example, although by background I am a medical laboratory scientist, I have also been an educator and worked in higher education for a number of years. Furthermore, I've worked in various leadership capacities as well. I've had the opportunity to serve in various volunteer positions with other associations such as ASCP, so I am excited to share what I have to offer to this dynamic organization.

I've always considered myself to be a very inclusive individual. I like to think holistically about how we can make things better for everyone at the table, but I also consider who is missing at the table and how we can bring them in so that we are truly making ourselves stronger as an organization, while leveraging that strength by increasing opportunities for the organization to continue to grow.

CV:  What specific goals do you hope to achieve during your term as president?
DPB: My top priority right now is looking at organizational structure and asking, ‘what can I do to help support that structure?’ immediately followed with increasing the visibility of the organization and the awareness of what SBP has to offer its members.

Doing those things and being really intentional in looking at how we can make those goals come into fruition will almost organically carry out that goal of sustainability and growth for the organization. But exploring our opportunities for partnership is something that we've also been heavily discussing recently.

One of the things that I was challenged to think about a few years ago, was what do I want my legacy to be? I would hope that my legacy will include pulling that broader picture of pathology and laboratory medicine together while also promoting a safe space of belongingness for other professionals whose lived experiences are very similar to my own or that of the founding members.

CV: What has the SBP’s influence been in terms of laboratory healthcare and improving on diversity?
DBP: I've had the pleasure and the opportunity to learn more about the work of our founding members and their contributions in their respective areas within pathology. They are already contributing in their everyday professional lives and academic careers as well—not just saving patients' lives, but also being advocates for improving health equity and addressing health disparities.

They're constantly doing that work through their publications, through their presentations, through their engagement with SBP and other organizations, as we know that this work can't continue just within a silo; we need to bring it into other spaces to enhance the awareness and importance of why SBP had to emerge as an organization. But the true purpose behind the organization is really addressing not just gaps in underrepresentation in healthcare fields in general, but more so specifically within pathology and laboratory medicine.

CV: Can you say more about the importance of SBP’s existence and how it might be a model for other similar organizations within healthcare or lead the way?
DBP: It’s truly our collective dedication to addressing barriers and diversity and inclusion, really collaborating to help increase the number of Black and underrepresented minorities in pathology and laboratory medicine.

And I would say just even being a resource as mentors has been huge in retention, but also in recruitment. It's hard to be what you don't see. And so being that visible representation for others to hopefully aspire after and know that they are needed within the field of pathology is so important.

Also, we hope to continue to expand and grow into research to help push the needle forward when it comes to how we effectively address healthcare disparities that particularly impact underrepresented or marginalized communities.

CV: Are there any other long-term impacts that you hope to achieve for Black pathologists and laboratory professionals?
DPB: I want more Black pathologists and laboratory professionals to be aware that a resource like this does exist. That there is a community here to support them and help nurture them in their professional or academic journey.

If there is an opportunity for us to support those endeavors or other initiatives that align with the goals of the organization, we are here and we are here to stay. We want to progressively grow into that organization that will continue to be a safe and inclusive space for those seeking to partner with an organization that is dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion of Black and underrepresented minorities within pathology and laboratory medicine.

CV: Can you provide any examples of initiatives or programs that SBP has spearheaded that have positively influenced diversity in healthcare or just healthcare policies or practices in general?
DPB: Within the last year we were able to initiate some key partnerships with other programs with aligned efforts to our initiatives. For example, we began to explore an initiative with ASCP Patient Champions to advance equity and support the diagnostic laboratory needs of underrepresented patients. I really must commend our then treasurer, now membership committee co-chair Dr. La’Tonzia Adams, for spearheading that effort as we hope to continue this very impactful work with the ASCP Patient Champions team.

CV: Is there anything else that you would like people to know about SBP?
DPB: I want people to know that those who are working hard to support the initiatives of SBP are passionate, and this work is truly coming from the heart and from lived experiences, which contributes to ‘the why’ for SBP. We want to continue to have not only established brave spaces for Black pathologists and laboratory professionals, but also to increase our presence in other events and activities. We're very intentional in fostering collaboration and increasing our visibility in the year ahead. As always, we are appreciative to those allies and advocates who continue to support the mission of SBP.


1.            Tanvir I, Hassan A, Alahmadi S, Waseem H, Anwer J, et al. “Ethnic and Gender Diversity in Pathology: A Dream Deferred.” Cureus. 2023 May 4;15(5):

2.            Oster, Natalia V, Guenther, Grace, Frogner, Bianca K, et al. “The Clinical Laboratory Workforce in the US Policy Brief.”  Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Washington.

This article has been edited for clarity.