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Celina Cunanan, MSN, APRN-CNM

Celina Cunanan, MSN, APRN-CNM

Celina Cunanan, MSN, APRN-CNM

Chief Diversity, Equity & Belonging Officer


Celina Cunanan, MSN, APRN-CNM, was appointed Chief Diversity, Equity & Belonging Officer in September 2022. In this role, Ms. Cunanan oversees the system-wide strategy to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion and champions strategies that promote a culture of equity and belonging internally within the organization, as well as in the many diverse communities that UH serves throughout the region. Ms. Cunanan is leading UH to develop and grow thoughtful, innovative signature programs such as the UH Health Scholars youth pipeline program, the UH Second Look and Satcher Clerkship programs for graduate medical education recruitment, the UH Food For Life Market® to address food insecurity, and UH LGBTQ+ and Gender Care Services.

In her prior role as Director, UH Office of Community Impact, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CEDI) and co-chair of the Social Justice & Equity committee, Ms. Cunanan made a tremendous impact by leading change within the UH system, as well as improving the health of Greater Cleveland. Under her leadership, UH's Food for Life Markets have expanded to four UH locations serving families suffering the health ramifications of living in food deserts. Additionally, she has expanded Cook Ross Bias Training and facilitated caregiver education on the topic of LGBTQ+ 101. Ms. Cunanan initiated the Departmental Equity Officers program and convened the underrepresented in medicine (URiM) faculty to cultivate a sense of belonging. Ms. Cunanan also helped advance the UH Health Scholars program, which engages Black and Brown high school students to consider careers in healthcare. And through UH’s Second Look program, she has increased the visibility of UH to URiM medical students.

An experienced clinician leader, Ms. Cunanan was UH’s inaugural Division Director for Nurse-Midwifery in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology from 2007 through June 2022, and System Chief for Nurse-Midwifery since 2017. Under her leadership, UH Midwifery has grown to be the largest network of midwives in Ohio.

Ms. Cunanan has a demonstrated commitment to addressing the inequalities impacting maternity care for Black women and babies. In 2010 and in response to Cleveland’s high preterm birth and infant mortality rates, she helped initiate the Centering Pregnancy model of care, and served as Medical Director. The UH Centering program is recognized as one of the largest and most innovative programs nationwide, and has been designated as Centering Healthcare Institute’s Midwest Regional Leadership Partner. She addressed the issue of sleep-related infant deaths by co-founding the non-profit Babies Need Boxes Ohio, which provided baby boxes, safe sleep education and supplies to expectant families.

Ms. Cunanan serves on the executive board for First Year Cleveland, our region’s civic and community collaborative to address infant mortality, where she has co-chaired both the Centering Pregnancy Coalition and Community Action Council. She has presented locally and all over the country regarding the importance of healthcare systems understanding the roles of racism and bias in maternal and child outcomes.

Ms. Cunanan previously served as president of the Northeast Ohio chapter of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and as an elected member of the ACNM Nominating Committee. For her leadership and expertise in the field of midwifery, Ms. Cunanan was inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Nurse-Midwives in 2019. Ms. Cunanan serves on the Ohio Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review Committee, and is Vice Chair of the Ohio Minority Health Commission, which she was appointed to by Governor Mike DeWine in 2020.

Ms. Cunanan was recently recognized by Becker’s Healthcare as one of “86 Hospital and Health System Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officers to Know” in 2023, by the Cleveland Business Journal as a 2022 Woman of Influence and by Crain’s Cleveland Business as a 2022 Notable Executive in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Ms. Cunanan earned her BA degree as a dual major in Health & Society and Psychology from the University of Rochester in 1994, her BSN from St. Louis University in 1998, and her MSN in Nurse-Midwifery from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in 2000. She earned her Women’s Leadership Certificate (2018) and Coaching Certificate (2021) from CWRU Weatherhead School of Management, and her DEI Certificate from Northwestern University in 2022.

Ms. Cunanan and her husband Matthew Kelly are proud to be raising their two sons Maxwell and Mason in Shaker Heights, Ohio.