Alumni of Distinction: Kenneth McCoy

by Matt Jardin  |   

Kenneth McCoy
2022 Alumni of Achievement award recipient Kenneth McCoy, B.A. Justice ’96, division chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Providence. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Kenneth McCoy, B.A. Justice '96, will receive the 2022 Alumni of Achievement award at the Alumni of Distinction Celebration Banquet on March 31 at Lucy Cuddy Hall.

How do you follow up a landmark policing career that not only culminated in becoming chief of police, but also occurred during a watershed period of accountability in law enforcement across the country? For justice alumnus Kenneth McCoy, you become the very first chief diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) officer for Alaska’s largest employer.

As Providence’s CDEIO for its northern region, McCoy leads DEI initiatives to promote culturally-competent patient-centered care across the organization’s clinics throughout Alaska and Puget Sound in Washington.

“My role is to ensure that everyone feels valued,” said McCoy. “How we get there looks different from hospital to hospital, from clinic to clinic, from caregiver to caregiver. Internally, it all comes down to leadership. And externally, it’s about building trust between the community — particularly communities of color — the organization and the work.”

In the relatively short time since joining Providence in February 2022, McCoy has already made a big impact. Kicking things off with a listening tour across his region, he’s implemented implicit bias training, launched awareness campaigns and is developing a strategic plan to guide Providence’s DEI efforts through 2025.

Despite the transition to health care from law enforcement, the core principle of equity continues to be the cornerstone of McCoy’s entire career philosophy.

“There are aspects of this position that I have been doing my entire career, such as building more inclusive environments, advocating for the underserved and giving the underrepresented a voice in the way we serve them,” said McCoy. “Those are the things I cherished during my law enforcement career, and being able to impact Providence in that same fashion spoke to me.”

When he was chief of police for the Anchorage Police Department (APD), more than 600 men and women fell under McCoy’s chain of command, including detectives, school resource officers, K-9s, SWAT and non-sworn positions.

McCoy retired from APD after a 27-year career. Starting at the patrol level, he steadily rose through the ranks with detective and command assignments in the Special Victims Unit, Robbery/Assault Unit and Internal Affairs Unit.

“When I became chief of police, I felt an obligation to not only myself, but to my family, to the men and women who I served with throughout my career and to the community who rallied around me every step of the way,” said McCoy. “I was so grateful for the support and wanted to ensure I represented this community to the level they deserved.”

Becoming a police officer wasn’t always the plan for McCoy. While he always knew he wanted to work in law enforcement, it took some time before he knew exactly in what capacity.

A self-described army brat, McCoy originally wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the armed services. And he did just that by attending a military institute in New Mexico and enlisting with the Army National Guard, eventually attaining the rank of second lieutenant.

Upon returning home to Anchorage, McCoy enrolled at UAA to become an attorney. But the more he studied, the more he realized that what he actually wanted to do was to work widely and visibly with the community as an officer. Case closed.

“Once I started studying law enforcement, I saw where I could make a difference and help people in their time of need and be that visible symbol of hope. That’s what I saw in police work,” said McCoy. “Really, my time at UAA solidified that desire that this is what I want to do and gave me the tools I needed to take that step.”


This story originally appeared in the UAA Green and Gold News.