Gillian Atkinson

Gillian is the inaugural Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) for Columbia Health. In this role, Gillian serves as a leader, advisor, partner, advocate, and resource for evolving the DEIB vision throughout the Columbia Health community. She provides effective strategies, including programs and initiatives, which help to foster an equitable, diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist division that is committed to advancing the health and well-being of the Columbia community, and those who provide exceptional care and support.

Gillian comes to Columbia Health with over twenty years of higher education experience. Fifteen of those years are within various DEIB roles. Leading up to joining Columbia Health, she was at Hofstra University, where she was the Director of Intercultural Engagement and Inclusion and an Assistant Dean of Academic Advising prior to that. Prior to her time at Hofstra University, Gillian served as the Assistant Director of the Center for Cross-Cultural Enrichment at Adelphi University. Gillian has facilitated over 400 workshops and training seminars. She is a champion of uncomfortable conversations because she has found them to be one of the best ways to create authentic spaces of belonging.


  • M.B.A, Dowling College
  • B.B.A., Nyack College
  • A.S. Criminal Justice, Nassau Community College

Certifications and Licensure:

  • Certified Diversity Executive (CDE), Institute for Diversity Certification
  • Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), Society for Human Resource Management
  • Certified Professional Coach (CPC), International Coaching Federation

Awards and Honors:

  • National Center for Suburban Studies – Celebration of Suburban Diversity Honoree (2022)
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – Hofstra University Chapter – Most Impactful Woman Award (2019)
  • Hofstra University – Peter J. Libman Spirit of Hofstra Award (2017)


  • International Coaching Federation (ICF)
  • National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA)
  • New York State Public Health Association (NYSPHA)
  • Society for Diversity
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Languages Spoken:

  • Jamaican Patois
  • English