‘There’s always room for improvement,’ says Penn State/Hershey exec honored for LGBTQ leadership

Bill Krenz gave the keynote speech during the Pride event held in the BMR Courtyard on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. (Photo via Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center)

If there is one word that Bill Krenz wants to encourage and model for others, it’s respect.

“Penn State Health is a solid force here in central Pennsylvania for inclusion and affirmation, but there’s always room for improvement,” said Krenz, who is an administrative associate for Community Health, Department of Nursing and Nursing Education at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Krenz is also one of the leaders of the LGBTQ and Allies Affinity Resource Network Group at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Krenz co-leads monthly meetings and communications for the 250-member group, along with Dr. Katie Dalke, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a member of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs.

Krenz and Dalke work closely with the Penn State Health Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the Penn State College of Medicine student PRIDE Group, to continue to create a safe space for employees, patients and students.

“I want Penn State Health to constantly improve and become a leader for welcoming LGBTQ patients and their families. I also want LGBTQ employees to be happy working here, and to help employees who have family members coming out,” he said.

For consistently demonstrating Penn State Heath’s values in every project he takes on, Krenz received one of three Steve and Sharon Baron Leadership Awards given in 2019.

Krenz’s nomination embodies the true spirit of the Baron Leadership Awards, according to the awards committee.

“Bill’s work as a leader for the LGBTQ and Allies Affinity Resource Network Group demonstrated teamwork and exemplified exceptional personal achievement,” the committee said. “He is a valued member of both the nursing department as well as the community relations team. His nomination demonstrated that Bill most certainly makes a lasting impact on those who have the privilege of working with him.”

In his administrative post for the Department of Nursing, Krenz assists the director of nursing education and professional development, and he supports the director of community health.

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He spends much of his time coordinating logistics and volunteers for events and, during the past year, provided key administrative support to a new shared governance model between nursing staff and nursing leadership.

“Bill is an exceptional employee, and his commitment to diversity highlights both his character, strong work ethic and empathy for others,” said Judy Dillon, recently retired director of community health. “Bill is a team player and a leader who is making a lasting difference, and this award is a small way to say thank you for his positive contributions to Penn State Health.”

Penn State Health and College of Medicine have a commitment to inclusivity for LGBTQ patients, employees and students, which earned the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center recognition as a top performer by the Human Rights Campaign Health Equality Index for its patient and employee initiatives in 2018 and again in 2019, said Lynette Chappell-Williams, chief diversity officer at Penn State Health.

An organization-wide LGBTQ task force, which includes external experts on LGBTQ issues, faculty members with expertise in LGBTQ health issues, members of the COM student Pride group and representatives from the LGBTQ affinity group, is dedicated to identifying strategies for being more inclusive of LGBTQ patients, employees and students, Chappell-Williams said.

The task force recently worked to establish the ability for patients to be called by their preferred (chosen) name in their medical records – and eventually their preferred pronouns.

“This is the first of many future steps our health system has taken to be a leader in addressing health care needs and health disparities of our LGBTQ communities,” she said.

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In her nomination of Krenz for the award, Rose Barron, administrative coordinator of public health services at the College of Medicine, highlighted Krenz’s ongoing commitment to LGBTQ affirmation both at Hershey Medical Center and in the community, referencing his involvement with Central PA’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Alder Health Services, the LGBT Center of Central PA and TransCentralPA.

“All of these experiences allow him to develop relationships that enhance his leadership role as well as support and promote Penn State Health in the local LGBTQ community,” Barron said.

For those who don’t find it as easy as he does to promote acceptance and affirmation, Krenz encourages them to find their voice. “Be more involved in LGBTQ activities in your workplace and urge your company to make it better for their LGBTQ workers, customers, whomever they serve,” he said.

Krenz urges everyone to find one thing they are passionate about and donate time to it.

“Everyone should give back in one way or another,” he said. “You get back as much as you give.”

When he’s not working or volunteering, Krenz, and husband Matthew Meehan, enjoy socializing with friends, camping and working in the yard of their home on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Dauphin.

Carolyn Kimmel wrote this piece for the Central Voice, where it first appeared.