Find Your Program


trojan watermark.jpg


trojan watermark.jpg

Anderson University College of Health Professions

Dr. Selynto Anderson: Passion for healthy communities

Since 2022, Dr. Selynto Anderson has been leading diversity and inclusion efforts for one of Florida’s largest healthcare organizations. Dr. Anderson is dedicated to ensuring that citizens in rapidly growing Southwest Florida have access to all the healthcare resources they need. He’s grateful to Anderson University for providing him with a strong professional foundation in education and healthcare rooted in biblical principles.  

What initially drew you into the healthcare field? 

I grew up in a community in McCormick County (South Carolina) where there weren’t a lot of resources. I always wanted to help individuals who I felt I could relate to and who were less fortunate and didn’t have a lot of things growing up. I was one of those individuals, but at the same time, I wanted to be able to give back. Once I got into healthcare, I knew it was the right field for me. 

Ideally, graduating from school, I wanted to be a physical therapist. That didn’t really work out. I was fortunate enough to get into healthcare and see things from the managerial, administrative side—just the lives you can impact, the people you can touch. 

I don’t think there’s anything greater than helping someone achieve their fullest potential, whether it’s, “Hey let me talk to you about why it’s important that you obtain a PCP (primary care physician)” or, “Hey let me help you get health insurance” or, “Let me be a listening ear when you’re dealing with death and grief within the hospital.” 

It’s a joy to be in healthcare. You look at positions such as mine at the executive level where it’s community-based; it’s diversity, equity, and inclusion-based as well. I feel like I get a chance to do what I do best every single day—to inspire people and help them be the best version of themselves. I know we all don’t know where our careers may take us, but I kind of see myself having my hands around healthcare for the remainder of my career. It’s something I thoroughly enjoy. 

What led you to Anderson University? 

I’m originally from about 50 miles away from Anderson. I wanted to go somewhere where I could see my professor and my professor would know my name. That kind of environment was important to me. At the same time, I was playing basketball and fortunately I was good enough to obtain a basketball scholarship for Anderson. I visited, I fell in love with the school and fell in love with the community. The atmosphere just seemed right. I knew if I didn’t understand something I could go up to that professor and say, “Hey, can I chat with you about how to do this macroeconomics?” or something along those lines, so that was key for me.  

The relationships I made at Anderson mean so much to me. My closest friends even to this day came from Anderson. We’ve got a group chat where we’re texting every single day. I also met my wife at Anderson. We weren’t dating at the time but she’s a graduate of Anderson as well. 

I tell folks all the time that Anderson really put in me a commitment to lifelong learning and taking that, not only from a scholastic perspective but also into a professional perspective. I am a Trojan through and through. 

What degrees have you earned? 

I got my Kinesiology and Exercise Science in my undergrad and then I got my master’s in education from Anderson University in 2008. I then obtained my doctorate in public health (at another institution) with a specialization in community health, promotion and education. 

How has AU benefited you spiritually and in other ways? 

I think the faith background really was important and allowed me to have that inspiration while I was there… Any time I tell someone I’m a graduate of Anderson University, they have nothing but good things to say. We are at the top when it comes to education and students going out and doing a lot of great things. Personally and professionally, it prepared me in such a way that really worked for me. If a kid from rural McCormick can go to Anderson and have a successful career, anyone can go and do it. It just takes dedication and having the passion to be able to do that. 

You had a great opportunity open at a large healthcare system. Tell us about that. 

I was working for Self Regional Healthcare in South Carolina. I had been there about 17 years, worked in a variety of different spaces and was most recently the vice president of community health and health equity and their chief diversity officer. I had a lot of great support working very closely with Dr. Matt Logan and ended up getting an inquiry on LinkedIn about a position down in Fort Myers, Florida. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Hey, I'm fine. I don't need to explore this, but there were some aspects of the job that I just found very interesting. 

You don't know what's on the other side of that door, sometimes you don't necessarily take that peek, so I ended up taking the peek and I actually came down to spend time in Fort Myers and view the healthcare system and met with a variety of different leaders and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that this is where I felt like God wanted me to be. I felt as though there was a lot of opportunity within the Fort Myers community in Lee County to really focus on a lot of the health disparities, really focus on inclusivity. I came down, had a couple of interviews and one thing kind of led to another. In September of 2022 I became the system’s first chief equity and inclusion officer and have hit the ground running ever since. 

It's been a wonderful two years. I've got great support, a wonderful CEO here, Dr. Larry Antonucci and team, and just wonderful people here as well. Also, aside from the hurricane, just absolutely gorgeous weather. I have to remind myself that I'm not on vacation because of course you've got the beaches, the palm trees and things of that nature, but just a tremendous opportunity both professionally and personally as well. 

Describe the size and scope of Lee Health.  

We’re a three and a half billion-dollar system. We have five acute care hospitals. We have a children's hospital and a little over 100 ambulatory practices. We are a large system and ever growing. If you think about the growth that’s coming into Southwest Florida, we are trying to meet those demands. 

When you got down to Florida, something big happened soon afterwards. Tell us about that.  

The first week here with my new employer I experienced a category 5 hurricane, Hurricane Ian. That was an opportunity that I did not see coming.  

We were out in the communities putting Starlink devices on top of the community building so folks would have Internet access and so the response of the organization really resonated with me because, for me, coming into this space with a community approach, it was very important to me that we meet the needs of our community and I'm proud to say during one of the most catastrophic times… Folks say there's never been a hurricane here as bad as this hurricane was. We were there front and center to help our team members, to help our patients and really meet the needs of our community. 

Two years after the hurricane, how are things going? 

We’ve got 15-16,000 team members here within Lee Health and so we have employees that still haven't got back in their homes. Of course, you're looking at things from an economic and infrastructure perspective, where so many people need so many different things, and so you've got different companies trying to meet those needs, but the demand is so high and so we're continuing to rally around those individuals and rally around the community as well. 

You recently passed the Board of Governors exam and Healthcare Management through the American College of Healthcare Executives. Congratulations! 

I've got my Ph.D., but this certification is something that I have been extremely proud of. The American College of Healthcare Executives has a credential called the FACHE credential, and that’s a credential in which an individual becomes a fellow. The credential provides recognition for folks as a leader among leaders in healthcare management. You demonstrate your competency in all areas of healthcare management and signifies your lifelong commitment to change and improvement. It's not just simply taking a test, but it's also about getting a recommendation from someone who is also a fellow. Dr. Don Peace (AU College of Health Professions Dean) was one of those individuals for me and then also Jim Pfeiffer, who was my one of my CEOs at Self Regional Healthcare. 

I didn't realize how intense it was, to tell you the truth. There are so many different levels to it. You've got finance, quality and safety, ethics, laws and regulation, healthcare management, healthcare information technology—so there are different competencies, and so for me, I've always been primarily within the community outreach/health disparity type space. I've done some things in my past where I've worked in the clinical side of things as well, but when you're taking this exam, you have to take the approach as though you are a Community Hospital CEO, where you’ve got to know a variety of different areas, and so I was studying this and really had a plan in place to try to achieve it. Dr. Peace stayed on me and there were other individuals who stayed on me because there is a lot that goes into it. I didn't get there by myself, but with the help of a variety of other individuals who were assisting with this.  

What advice would you offer someone seeking to get into the healthcare field? 

I would tell that person, if they have a passion for helping people and making a difference, then there is no better place than healthcare. Each day you get a chance to make someone’s life better. 

dr sleynto
Dr. Selynto Anderson
Graduated from Anderson University: 2008 (Master’s), 2004 (Bachelor’s)
Degree: Master’s in Education, Anderson University College of Education; Bachelor’s in Kinesiology and Exercise Science, Anderson University College of Health Professions
Title: Vice President of Community Health & Health Equity and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Self Regional Healthcare, Greenwood, South Carolina