Kimberley Evans remembered as champion of diversity, equity and inclusion in Duke medicine community

Courtesy of Scholars@Duke
Courtesy of Scholars@Duke

Kimberely Evans, a Duke nephrologist and professor of medicine, passed away in Durham on Aug. 23 after a battle with cancer.

In a message shared by the Department of Medicine, Evans, who passed away at 50 years old, was remembered chiefly for her “sustained excellence and extraordinary contributions to clinical nephrology … and creating a nurturing professional environment that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion.” 

After graduating from the now-dissolved University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1998, Evans came to Duke for her internal medicine residency. 

For the past 25 years, she was an integral member of Duke's Department of Medicine community. She was also an associate vice chair for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and chair of the Department of Medicine’s Minority Recruitment and Retention committee. 

Throughout her time at Duke, Evans began initiatives to connect underrepresented applicants to Duke’s residency programs to fellow doctors of color. In recognition of her work, she was given the Michelle P. Winn Inclusive Excellence Award in the faculty category, which “recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to diversity and inclusion within the Duke University School of Medicine community.”

According to the Inclusive Excellence Award committee, her work allowed applicants to “be assured of a warm welcome if they choose to train at Duke.” This initiative was so successful that it was replicated by other clinical departments. 

“[Evans] was involved heavily in recruitment of underrepresented minorities long before DEI became something we are involved in every day,” Duke nephrologist and Professor of Medicine Stephen Smith said. “Many people spoke at her memorial service in the chapel, saying ‘I wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for her,’ and I know another dozen people who feel the same way.” 

Evans was also known for her efforts to implement Duke’s electronic health record, Epic

“Part of her job became helping people understand how to use [Epic], and then how to modify it,” Smith said. “She would listen to problems people are having and go back to the Epic people and get some changes made. She was very tech-savvy.” 

Evans’ family described her as a “remarkable woman whose presence illuminated the lives of all who knew her.”  Evans was a devoted wife and mother to her husband, Edward Evans, and her two children. 

Romita Mukerjee, a nephrology specialist in Raleigh who completed an internship and a fellowship at Duke, spoke about the influence Evans had on her during her training.

“While she was very busy as a clinician [and] as an academic faculty member, she was also a mom who had to prioritize her family,” she said. “... That was a time when work-life balance wasn’t really much anything that was discussed in the first place.”

The fellowship program continues to grieve the loss of Evans and is working to preserve her legacy, said Matthew Sparks, program director of the Nephrology Fellowship Program.

“I know there’s no way to replace her, but we’ll do our best to take all of these really important things to ensure that Duke is a place that everyone wants to train at. We value equity in the division, and also at Duke,” Sparks said. “... I think a lot of the success we have, and many of the faculty that are here, were recruited by her. The impact that she left is going to be felt for generations to come.”


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