Shaneka Davis, Associate General Counsel
When you meet Shaneka Davis, it quickly becomes apparent that she is a very attentive listener. In fact, Shaneka approaches all of her conversations with the same quiet, focused awareness that has served her, and the communities where she has worked, for many years.
Shaneka is an Associate General Counsel in UMass Memorial Health’s Office of General Counsel. She joined UMass Memorial in June 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since she started, she has advised Human Resource business partners and senior leaders on topics related to employment – including terminations, benefits, regulatory matters, leaves of absence and COVID-19 protocols.
Being a lawyer means that Shaneka counsels her clients on the legal considerations for the issues they are confronting. Shaneka considers her clients the experts on what needs to be done and sees her job as helping them meet their goals. In fact, Shaneka’s early experiences as a volunteer in communities around the world taught her a valuable life lesson: “It’s really the people within a community that know best how to implement the changes they want to see.”
Shaneka has worked on three other continents besides North America – Africa, Asia and Europe. She spent time in Ghana volunteering with the Youth Institute of Science and Technology and taking children from the Agogo village to the city of Kumasi to attend courses at a local college. She was a member of the Peace Corps and served as a volunteer in Romania, doing youth and institutional development-focused work. And she spent time in India, working as a law fellow with the Human Rights Law Network to expand access to sex education and help new mothers gain access to the financial assistance to which they were entitled.
Shaneka explains that it was a desire to learn how people improve their communities that led her overseas – and it’s also what brought her home to Massachusetts, where she was born and raised. “I was encouraged to bring home what I had learned abroad,” she says. For Shaneka, the idea that it is the people in the community that know best how to bring about change has led her to approach each new project from a “learning perspective.”
In addition to providing counsel to Human Resources, Shaneka is passionate about supporting the goals of UMass Memorial Health's Office for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, UMass Memorial Health's Medical-Legal Partnership and UMass Memorial Health's Anchor Mission work. “I think it’s important to make sure that everyone feels they belong and provide opportunities to those in our community and around our system,” she explains.
In addition to attending law school, Shaneka has a Master of Public Health degree. She’s excited about our Medical-Legal Partnership and Anchor Mission work because they focus on the social determinants of health. Shaneka is a member of the Medical-Legal Partnership Steering Committee and has assisted with the Anchor Mission’s Food is Medicine initiative. “Food can help heal as well as prevent disease,” she notes.
Shaneka explains why her work on our Anchor Mission is fulfilling, saying, “I’m impressed with all the individuals who work on our Anchor Mission and I enjoy working alongside them as they implement their initiatives. It’s rewarding because it helps fulfill the mission of our institution and works to improve the health outcomes of individuals within central Massachusetts.”
To read more stories like Shaneka's, visit everyoneeveryday.org.