Stars of Stanford Medicine

Mark Gutierrez


Center of Excellence in Diversity in Medical Education

Mark Gutierrez, assistant director for the Center of Excellence in Diversity in Medical Education (COEDME), is part of a team working to help ensure that our next generation of physician leaders is prepared to address health inequities.

Among his top goals: fostering the development of diverse physician leaders.

“Our patients deserve our best and we believe that diversity in the healthcare workforce improves patient care, resulting in healthier communities for all,” Gutierrez said.

Indeed, U.S. demographics underscore the need for physicians to know how to understand the social, cultural, and economic factors that affect health. Explaining that it sometimes takes more than medicine to improve a patient’s situation, Gutierrez is passionate about teaching leadership principles that will enable trainees to be effective leaders in medicine and empower them to advocate and influence positive change. Often, his first step is to help students recognize their own abilities.

“I feel energized when I see the light go on in students’ minds the moment they believe that they, too, can lead,” Gutierrez said. “I know they’ll make a difference in providing high-quality care for those most in need of it.”

Everyone matters

Ronald D. Garcia, Ph.D., program director for the COEDM, says Gutierrez’ personal commitment to developing leaders likely springs from his own professional development in leadership training, which includes a master’s degree in Organization and Leadership.

“Mark brings his passion to his relationships and work every day. His capacity to work with students and faculty expands the scope of many of our programs across the entire educational continuum,” said Garcia. “His intrigue about how diversity students think about their own personal capacity to be leaders is in perfect alignment with our center’s goals.”

Gutierrez admits he finds it especially gratifying to support first generation students, whom he calls “pioneers.” As the first in his family to earn a university degree, he has insight into some of the obstacles that first generation students may encounter. Whether they need help with forms and paperwork, or navigating the medical school process, he’s there to offer guidance and point them to resources. And because mindset matters, he’s also there to remind them that regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background, they have a place at Stanford.

 “Diversity is so important because everyone counts; everyone matters,” he said. “We must encourage our first gen students and remind them they belong here. If they believe they belong at Stanford, they’ll thrive.”

Mark Gutierrez speaks to an audience of newly admitted medical students about programs offered by the Center of Excellence. 

Snazzy shades, cool music, and hard work

Gutierrez says his work at the COEDME, which spans over two decades, is about developing our most important asset – our human resources, noting “it’s all about people.”

“I consider it a real honor to work with others here who have similar passions and to help encourage our students to pursue their destiny,” Gutierrez said. “I feel blessed to be able to assist our medical, PA, and premed student communities develop their leadership potential and talents. I love what I do.”

Paloma Marin-Nevarez, a third-year medical student at Stanford, first met Gutierrez when she joined the Leadership in Health Disparities Program and came to know him as “the really nice director with snazzy shades who made things run super smoothly and who would play really cool reggae music at lunch events.”

But when she became the TA the following year, she gained a new appreciation for how much work goes into what Gutierrez does.

“Watching him work behind the scenes has been very inspirational. I’ve met very few people who can work so hard while also looking so cool. Many people can work hard and diligently, but very few people can do what Mark does — work with excellence while being an incredible source of kindness and support for the students he works with,” said Marin-Nevarez. “To me and to many of my classmates, Mark is not just a staff member, he is family.” 


First-year medical students participating in the Leadership in Health Disparities Program (LHDP) sponsored by the Center of Excellence in Diversity in Medical Education get to know Mark Gutierrez.

Story by Jan Morrill.