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Roswell Park CEO Dr. Candace Johnson Names Diversity and Inclusion Leader Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney as Senior VP

City of Buffalo First Deputy Mayor joins region’s only comprehensive cancer center as Chief Diversity Officer

  • Navy veteran steered diversity efforts in higher education and city government
  • Holds Diversity and Inclusion advanced certification from Cornell University
  • Successfully enlists partners across community to advance equity and inclusion

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center has appointed Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, Esq., as Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Vice President — a senior leadership position with direct influence on initiatives across the organization. The appointment caps a national search that began more than a year ago, and comes at a juncture of great positive momentum in Roswell Park’s ongoing efforts to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and access within the cancer center and throughout the communities it serves.

Rodriguez-Dabney will take the leadership role in facilitating the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across every Roswell Park team and department, collaborating closely with other senior leaders at the comprehensive cancer center.

“Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney is exceptional in so many ways,” says Roswell Park President, CEO and M&T Bank Chair in Leadership Candace S. Johnson, PhD. “She brings tremendous insight and openness to her work to ensure a voice for everyone, and is the ideal person to lead our team in building on Roswell Park’s remarkable growth in supporting diversity, equity, inclusion and access for our patients, our team members and our community.”

“My entire career across law, higher education, government and public service has been centered around equity, diversity and inclusion,” says Rodriguez-Dabney. “Dr. Johnson and her leadership team have set a promising foundation at Roswell Park, and I’m excited to build upon those initiatives. We have an incredible opportunity to further elevate and expand Roswell Park’s work to create opportunity both inside and outside the cancer center.”

In her leadership role with the City of Buffalo, Rodriguez-Dabney, a lawyer with advanced certification from Cornell University in Diversity and Inclusion, steered successful efforts to engage and support richly diverse communities and organizations. Appointed by Mayor Byron W. Brown in 2016 as Buffalo’s first Chief Diversity Officer, she led outreach to partners within and outside government, spearheading engagement with minority- and women-owned businesses, serving as chief architect of the city’s Opportunity Pledge, representing Mayor Brown on the Racial Equity Roundtable of Greater Buffalo and supporting the mayor’s vision of diversifying the city workforce. She played a central role in the response to the May 14, 2022, racially targeted mass shooting at a grocery store on Buffalo’s East Side. 

“Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this important position,” says Mayor Brown. “She will continue to be an innovative leader in proposing and implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives. She has provided exceptional guidance and stability in some of the toughest times our city has seen. My wife, Michelle, and I have known and admired Crystal and her outstanding work ethic for a long time and have proudly watched her grow to be the accomplished professional she is now. Crystal will be a strong voice for Roswell Park, its employees and the surrounding community. I want to thank her for her service to our city. She will definitely be missed greatly in city government.” 

Rodriguez-Dabney has been First Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff for the City of Buffalo since April 2022. Prior to that, she served as Chief Diversity Officer and Chief of Staff to the President at SUNY Buffalo State University. 

“I am thrilled to hear of this appointment,” says Buffalo State University President Katherine Conway-Turner. “Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney will bring her outstanding talents, creative energy and firm understanding of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion to Roswell Park. Her ability to galvanize differing voices and guide community understanding on issues related to DEI will provide outstanding leadership to her new campus and will help lead Roswell Park into the future.

“Ms. Rodriguez-Dabney stood out among an outstanding field of candidates,” says Gail Mitchell, Esq., a retired Assistant U.S. Attorney who co-chaired the search committee for the appointment. “Her passion for expanding opportunities for others is matched by a record of successfully enlisting partners to work together toward making her vision of a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture a reality.”

A lifelong resident of Buffalo, Rodriguez-Dabney holds Master of Laws and Juris Doctorate degrees from the University at Buffalo Law School, and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from California State University San Marcos that she earned while serving in the U.S. Navy. Co-Chair of the Buffalo AKG Community Advisory Council, her many educational and cultural activities across the region include Read to Succeed Buffalo, the UB Law School Alumni Association, WNY Women’s Foundation, Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Explore & More Children’s Museum. She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Her honors and recognitions include West Herr Inspiring Women of WNY, Buffalo Black Achievers, National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York Inc. Community Service in Government Award, and Buffalo Business First 40 Under Forty.

A native of Buffalo’s East Side, she lives in Buffalo with her husband, Buffalo City Court Judge Phillip Dabney Jr.


About Roswell Park
From the world’s first chemotherapy research to the PSA prostate cancer biomarker, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center generates innovations that shape how cancer is detected, treated and prevented worldwide. Driven to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity, the Roswell Park team of 4,000 makes compassionate, patient-centered cancer care and services accessible across New York State and beyond. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park was among the first three cancer centers nationwide to become a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and is the only one to hold this designation in Upstate New York. To learn more about Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Roswell Park Care Network, visit www.roswellpark.org, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email ASKRoswell@RoswellPark.org.

Media Contact

Rebecca Vogt, Media Relations Specialist
716-845-4919; rebecca.vogt@roswellpark.org