Nigerian native Sandra A. Ogunremi is passionate about helping others relate across their differences.
“People often struggle to talk about race and ethnicity,” says Ogunremi, 51. “They are afraid to talk about race and culture because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing.” In her role as the recently appointed vice president of diversity, inclusion, and belonging for Monument Health, Ogunremi works to eliminate barriers that prevent people from experiencing a sense of belonging.
“As an organization, we’ve been on this journey for a while,” says Ogunremi, who has worked for the Rapid City, South Dakota-based health care system since 2008. Ogunremi holds multiple certifications in diversity and inclusion, including a certificate in diversity management from the American Hospital Association’s Institute for Division and Health Equity. She uses her expertise to lead various organizational initiatives for Monument Health, including workshops and training seminars that help the organization become aware of and responsive to cultural needs and concerns.
“We’ve learned that the more we talk about issues and bring them out into the open, the more we can ensure our policies create an environment that is welcoming and supports people,” says Monument Health President R. Paulette Davidson, 59. “Sandra brings our organizational values to life. She’s very committed to our mission of making a difference every day.”
Ogunremi’s dedication to building belonging at Monument Health earned her national recognition in October as one of the top 50 women in health care, according to the publication Women We Admire.
Ogunremi, who attends Rapids City First Assembly, also brings her expertise in diversity and inclusion to her role as an ordained Assemblies of God minister.
“At the height of the great divisions across the world such as COVID, masking, and racial tension, I was able to speak at different churches about being an ambassador for Christ,” she says.
After civil unrest erupted in 2020 in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, AG South Dakota Superintendent Stephen R. Schaible invited Ogunremi to speak about diversity and inclusion at district council.
“Sandra brings a level of excellence and passion for God to her work,” says Schaible, 68. “It seemed natural to include her in that conversation at the district level.”
Ogunremi’s session at the gathering helped guide an initiative to add Spanish-speaking churches to the district.
“We are in the process of building a network of Spanish-speaking churches in South Dakota,” says Schaible. “Sandra’s talk was an incremental step toward seeing that happen.”
“I welcome the opportunity to talk about things that people shy away from and to help them represent Jesus in the conversation,” says Ogunremi. “We have to be able to talk about these things, in the marketplace and in the church world, and to do so with love.”
Ogunremi’s know-how for leading Christians through difficult conversations led to her conducting an educational session with AG district/network superintendents from across the nation at the invitation of AG General Superintendent Doug Clay.
Ogunremi, who holds a doctor of health care degree, became the AG South Dakota women’s ministry director in 2022 after serving as a sectional representative for more than a decade. In 2021, her first book, Casting Down Disruptive Imaginations, was published. Her second book, Overcoming Threats, Thoughts, and Triggers released in December.
Her husband is Adodele Ogunremi, a Rapid City physician native of Nigeria who specializes in nephrology.