Darlene Oliver Hightower
Vice President, Community Health Equity, Rush University Medical Center
Darlene is responsible for overseeing, implementing and evaluating Rush’s community health equity strategy, which aims to improve the health of individuals and communities through a broad range of economic, educational, structural and health related initiatives. In addition, she is responsible for the oversight of community engagement efforts at Rush University Medical Center, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush University.
Darlene is a key member of the team that is helping to shape Rush’s enduring commitment to community health and well-being in our neighborhoods and across the health system. She has been instrumental in Rush’s launch of West Side United, a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at improving health and economic vitality on Chicago’s West Side. Darlene has oversight of Rush’s School Based Health Centers, the REACH Program, Community Benefit and Rush’s community service initiatives.
Prior to joining Rush, Darlene held a dual role with Public Allies, Inc., as National Vice President of Programs and Executive Director for Public Allies Chicago. There, she was charged with overseeing the programmatic and administrative deliverables for an $8 million federal AmeriCorps grant that funded Public Allies’ signature national service apprenticeship program in 23 communities across the country.
Prior to joining Public Allies, Darlene was Associate Director for the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, an affiliate of RUMC, where she worked to address health disparities in breast cancer outcomes for African American women in Chicago. While there, Darlene launched the Task Force’s first e-newsletter, developed its first corporate sponsorship initiatives, launched community-based outreach programs and raised more than $1 million in funding.
Darlene practiced law before transitioning to the nonprofit sector and was a partner in a law firm handling civil rights litigation. In 2008, she was appointed as an administrative law judge with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. The Chicago Community Trust selected Darlene as a 2012 Emerging Leadership Fellow and in 2015, she was selected as a fellow for the University of Chicago’s inaugural Civic Leadership Academy.
Darlene has served as a board member or volunteer for the Art Institute of Chicago (Evening Associates Board), the Chicago Foundation for Women and Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Darlene holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology (with high honors) from Bradley University and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.