Introducing AO Access

Learn about the initiative establishing diversity, inclusion, and mentorship within the AO

The AO began quantifying and remedying disparities within its membership demographics, specifically among women and minorities, through the creation of the Opportunity, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiative (ODII) in 2018.

The ODII was tasked with identifying diversity barriers within AO and developing a path that ensures diversity with inclusion and opportunity for all AO members. The full report was presented at the 2019 Davos course and can be found here.

Subsequently, the AO Foundation approved AO Access—a program dedicated to establishing diversity, inclusion, and mentorship needs identified by ODII. The AO Access vision and mission are stated below. 

Our vision

Be a diverse and inclusive organization with equitable access, and opportunity for advancement within the AO organization at all levels, regions, clinical divisions, and units.

Our mission

Implement dedicated programs, policies, and organizational structures that reflect a diverse and inclusive global community of health care professionals including mentoring to make us the most productive, innovative, and sustainable learning community for the benefit of our patients.

AO Access has just completed a three-month virtual faculty mentoring pilot project that will provide exciting and interesting data about how best to create increased opportunity for women and minority faculty.

As follow-up to that pilot, and as an additional module, a two-hour asynchronous journey on Interrupting Your Unconscious Bias is nearly complete. This module will provide further exercises, opportunities to interact and grow, and references to the Implicit Bias Association test.



Through these projects, the Foundation Board has demonstrated its commitment to addressing existing inequalities and to identifying and overcoming barriers.

Current resources available to all AO members include:

The current steering committee is made up of:

  • AO Foundation Board representative, Robert McGuire
  • Diversity and inclusion representative, Amy Kapatkin
  • Mentorship representative, Jaime Quintero L.
  • AO Executive Committee representative, Urs Rüetschi

AO Access is expertly managed by Tatjana Topalovic, Senior Program Manager Diversity, Inclusion and Mentorship.

Three task forces representing faculty and leader development, officer and faculty selection process, and mentorship and sponsorship are currently continuing the work of AO Access. 

Full details on the organizational structure and AO Access working group can be found here.



One of the most meaningful portions of the website showcases AO members stories with autobiographical accounts of AO journeys from across every discipline and throughout the world in the series titled Voices for Change: Celebrating diversity in the AO.

The critically important work of AO Access does not live within a single project, however. It permeates and enriches every member of the organization and benefits from the input and energy of us all.  We encourage you to visit the AO Access site, utilize the resources there, upload your own member journey, and get involved.

In the words of one of the drivers behind this work: “although words are important, actions matter most.” Look for upcoming opportunities to be a part of this exciting movement.

Direct questions and suggestions can be sent to diversity.inclusion@aofoundation.org


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