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‘Phenomenal leader’: Here’s why WellSpan diversity/inclusion director received Spirit of YoCo Award

October 12, 2020

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Kim Brister

Kim Brister

Kim Brister is a busy person. This is perhaps an understatement.

Brister, WellSpan senior director of talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion, serves on the boards of the Confronting Racism Coalition in York County, the York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program and the York Jewish Community Center, where she chairs the Diversity Advisory Committee. She chairs the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the York County Strong Recovery Task Force. She is on United Way of York County's Leadership Giving Council.

She runs workshops and leads discussions. She mentors young people. She is one of those people who seems everywhere at every time, all across York County.

And yet this is what everyone says: you can pick up the phone and call Kim Brister, and she will make the time to do what she can to help.

For her work in the community, Brister has received the Diversity Impact Award, one of the annual Spirit of YoCo Awards from the York County Economic Alliance (YCEA).

"Kim has been a phenomenal leader in the community, and with WellSpan Health," said Kevin Schreiber, YCEA president and CEO. "When you engage with Kim, it is clear to see her commitment to strengthen diversity and inclusion, her positive spirit and energy, and willingness to work together to improve our community."

Brister's community work, while complex and layered, has a simple focus.

"This work is so much bigger than me," Brister said. "I would say what fuels me is that if I could possibly impact just one person, a student's life, and the community in which I work and live, that would mean the world to me."

Sully Pinos works with Brister on the Confronting Racism Coalition.

"She is incredibly engaged with the community where she works and lives, not because it's what expected of her but because she understands the opportunity to make a positive impact on someone's life," said Pinos, YCEA director of business solutions and innovation.

Brister has led some of the challenging discussions about race set up by the Coalition. She has been a thoughtful, calm voice during the unsettling days of a pandemic, racial unrest and a strident political atmosphere.

"We have gone from COVID to incidents of racism played out across our nation," Pinos said. "To have someone like Kim, who is willing to listen to someone and connect and see how she can help, that's reassuring in a time when there is so much uncertainty."

Brister has been a member of the community advisory board of the York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program about 10 years. She became involved after her son, George, received a scholarship from the program that provides promising students from the York City School District an opportunity to attend York College on a four-year, tuition-free scholarship with the goal of promoting career and community leadership opportunities.

"Kim takes great interest in truly getting to know the students as they grow and develop,"said Deb Naumann, student development liaison for the program. "She loves it! She has a passion for helping others reach their goals. She is able to create a connection with students and make them feel at ease in stressful situations, such as networking events."

Naumann said Brister's involvement doesn’t stop when the students get their diplomas.

"Years after the students have graduated, Kim still remembers who they are and is always willing to assist them in their professional journey."

Pinos says that Brister is a visible, genuine person, the kind of person who shows up for a church service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with her own mother at her side.

"She's so intentional with her passion that she also wants her make sure her family is part of that," Pinos said. "She's a professional and a mentor but she's also a mother and daughter. She talks with such pride about her own children. She truly embodies everything she says and stands for."