Dr. Kevin Stockard is an active and involved member of LatinoLEAD. Kevin is a solid example of the allyship we need to have as members of historically marginalized groups. He generously volunteered his time at our first in-person event since the global pandemic. In this interview, Dr. Stockard shares his reasons why being an ally is integral to securing an equitable future for all, tells us about his roots, his career as a medical professional and shares some tips for future lideres.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, I’ve been living in the Twin Cities since 2019. I am happy to be helping others through my work as a physician and engineer with Abbott in Little Canada, working on an artificial heart valve that is soon slated for FDA approval. I love to socialize and meet new people. Upon first moving to St. Paul, I immediately sought out organizations to join that would help me become a part of the diverse community this area has to offer. One way in which I give back is through mentoring. I have helped many students (high school and college) in their aspirations to become doctors and engineers.
What inspired you to the work that you do as Principal Clinical Development Specialist at Abbott and how did you get there?
My first career was aerospace engineering, working for McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) in St. Louis, Missouri. Through my career I studied math in graduate school and learned more about math applications to physiology and medicine. After traveling across the country and Canada, attending conferences, exploring new career opportunities, I decided to make the leap and go to medical school in Missouri. After earning my M.D. degree, I did university research and chose to use my medical degree in private industry. I worked for Johnson & Johnson in Cincinnati, Ohio for a year before moving to St. Paul to work for Abbott.
Tell us a little about your involvement with the Latinx community.
I first became involved in the local Latinx community by attending my first LatinoLead meeting in February 2020, meeting Irma and Ana Vergara, a Latina who was the president of the Shakopee Diversity Alliance (SDA) – a non-profit group in the Shakopee community that helps people of color acquire equality and social justice through community activism. Upon listening to Irma talk about LatinoLEAD’s mission, I introduced myself to her and wanted to know how I could help with the organization’s mission. I have also been the secretary of the Twin Cities Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) since 2020 and a board member of La Voice, the Hispanic Employee Recourses Group at Abbott since 2019. All of these experiences have been a phenomenal opportunity to be a part of the Latinx community.
Why is working with the Latinx community important to you as an ally of Latinx?
As an African American, it is important for me to be in allyship with the Latinx community, for I know we have common goals – primarily the need to be treated as equals who have much to contribute to American society. Although African Americans and Latinx have different cultural and historical narratives in this country, we certainly share the desire to possess: 1) equal employment opportunities; 2) equal access to community resources through being counted in the U.S. Census (regardless of citizenship or immigration status); and 3) equal treatment under the law without bias on the basis of race. With my experiences in SHPE, LatinoLead, and La Voice, I have learned a lot about Latinx culture, which can allow me to grow as a more informed and educated ally.
What is your experience with LatinoLEAD? How did you first hear about us?
I first heard about LatinoLEAD back in February 2020, a few months after moving to the Twin Cities region. Upon attending my first meeting that month, I was ecstatic to meet and network with many people who were friendly and eager to have more people join the organization. It was unfortunate that the meetings halted the next month due to COVID, but my interest never waned. I was happy to volunteer at the recent event in February this year at La Dona Cervecia. I look forward to further networking more this year with LatinoLEAD and perhaps mentoring young Latinx students.
Why do you think the work of LatinoLEAD is important for our community in this new year?
LatinoLEAD will always be important – not only this year – but in years to come – for the young Latinx students in our community who need mentorship of the community leaders to help them in their education and careers. As a physician and engineer, I am happy to mentor young people. I’ve been doing it for the past 11 years since graduating medical school. I’ve certainly been a mentor for African American students; but I’d also enjoy mentoring people in the Latinx community as well given the parallel struggle our communities have always faced in this country.
Anything else you'd like to share with the LatinoLEAD network?
When not working, one of my greatest avocations is graphite and charcoal drawing. I’m a commissioned portrait artist and love my work. It gives me great pleasure making art that people will feel proud to display in their homes.