MD Anderson 2020 Interview Collection
Lee Coffee Jr, M.Ed., Oral History Interview, June 30, 2021


Lee Coffee Jr, M.Ed., Oral History Interview, June 30, 2021


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Publication Date



The Historical Resources Center, The Research Medical Library, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

About the Interview

Chapter 01: Early Professional Development Leads to a Career in Leadership and Diversity

Mr. Coffee begins the interview by talking about his personal and professional history - including early education and military service. Also discussed are the courses he implemented at MD Anderson related to LGBT Diversity and BIAS training. He concludes the chapter by discussing his thoughts on leadership and intersectionality.

Chapter 02: MD Anderson: A Match Between Professional Skillset and Institutional Needs

Mr. Coffee talks about how his background and training led to a productive career that aligns with MD Anderson's core values.

Chapter 03: The Leadership Institute: Optimizing the Potential of every Employee

Mr. Coffee goes into the history of the Leadership Institute including its origins and current mission to "optimize the potential of every employee." He discusses how the Leadership Institute empowers leaders with coaching and development programs.

Chapter 04: The Leadership Institute: Teaching Accountability to New Employees

In this chapter, Mr. Coffee provides an example of how new employees are taught accountability while thriving at MD Anderson. He mentions a Buddy system during onboarding. He concludes the chapter by talking about some of the obstacles that occur while having difficult conversations about accountability and tolerance of harmful behavior.

Chapter 05: Leadership Following The Death of George Floyd, Part 1

Mr. Coffee addresses the institution’s actions following the death of George Floyd. He talks about a program he conducted titled: "Racism is as American as Apple Pie". Mr. Coffee mentions how the institution includes diversity and inclusion as part of cultural competencies reflected through the various initiatives.

Chapter 06: COVID and the Global Pandemic

Mr. Coffee talks about the institution's first response to the COVID-19 pandemic - working from home, adjusting communication preferences, and shifting job responsibilities.

Chapter 07: Leadership Following the Death of George Floyd, Part 2

In this chapter, Mr. Coffee talks about how he trains leaders to address racial and gender disparities. He talks about the diversity of MD Anderson's staff and several of the programs and courses offered by the institution. He stresses the importance of building awareness of societal contributions from BIPOC and women - including a chapter he wrote for a book Black Cowboys of Texas.

Chapter 08: Reflections

Mr. Coffee concludes the interview by discussing his strengths in creating meaningful conversations reflected in his talents as an educator.

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Lee Coffee Jr, M.Ed., Oral History Interview, June 30, 2021