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Week of April 5, 2010

UMHS insurance representative 
promotes diversity

Early in his life, Gerald Hoff learned that people deserve respect. “I think it was my mother’s early life lessons in how to treat others that set the tone and direction of my life,” he says. “She definitely planted the diversity activism seed in me.”

Photo by Scott Soderberg, U-M Photo Services

Today, Hoff uses his mother’s life lessons to help others. He serves on multiple committees that are dedicated to promoting diversity in the Ann Arbor area and at the university, including the U-M Council for Disability Concerns, the U-M Health System (UMHS) Diversity Advisory Team and the Neubacher Award committee, with the mission “to select the most passionate advocate for people with disabilities.”

Hoff’s dedication to activism resulted in him receiving the Laurita Thomas Diversity Champion award in 2007. The award, granted annually by UMHS, is given to an individual, group or university department that shows significant devotion to promoting and protecting diversity.

“I don’t recall a time or an age in my life when the treatment of others wasn’t important to me,” Hoff says.

Born in Ann Arbor and raised in Westland, Hoff always has been a Wolverine at heart. After studying medical technology at Madonna University, he came to U-M to work for UMHS, and was drawn to “the health system’s outstanding reputation.”

As an insurance representative for UMHS, Hoff helps patients and staff with rejected claims and questions regarding their health benefits. “I think everyone here feels extra good when know we have resolved a billing issue for a patient,” he says. “We want the patient’s experience here to be the best it possibly can be.”

Hoff first got involved with diversity activism at U-M in 2005, when he became a diversity internal representative at UMHS. “I was totally thrilled at the opportunity, and I couldn’t wait to help.”

Hoff equally is as devoted to his personal life. An architecture enthusiast, he built his own home, and has “a to-do list that is many pages long.” He spends as much time as possible with his wife and family, and when he has a spare moment, works on perfecting his cooking skills. “I can cook, bake and (barbecue) with the best,” he says.

Even at home, Hoff is a champion for diversity. “The best way to promote it is by being it,” he says. “I’m in an interracial marriage. … My passion grew for activism from not only my own experiences but also those that were very dear to me.”

Although Hoff has seen progress, he still believes there is a long way to go. “What I have done may even be too small to measure,” he says. “But there are many like me that truly care and together we are making a difference.”

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Gerald Hoff, insurance representative, U-M Health System, on being a diversity advocate: “I don't recall a time or an age in my life when the treatment of others wasn't important to me.”