There is a giant metal spire in the lobby of Cerner’s world headquarters in Kansas City.
Closer inspection shows that the structure is actually a dramatically oversized representation of the double helix of human DNA, reaching 188 feet into the sky. Its metal casing is covered with thousands of 1s and 0s that represent binary code — making it a powerful symbol of the synergies that Cerner has built between health care and technology.
The health care information technology firm employs over 13,000 people worldwide — three times the number that worked there a decade ago. The company began with digitizing paper medical records, but it has now become the purveyor of complete data management systems for a wide range of medical organizations.
Crystal Denson is part of that success. As the operations manager for Cerner’s cloud technology division, she works with clients to provide fully delivered remote hosting solutions. She talks about the company’s electronic medical record programs, data analysis, and support for clinical decision-making. Denson is well-spoken, kind, and enthusiastic about her work — and she can’t say enough good things about how Cerner treats its LGBT employees.
“I think associates at Cerner can bring their whole selves to work. … One of the things that gets me going in the morning is knowing I work for a company that accepts me for who I am,” Denson says, then laughingly notes that caffeine also plays a role.
But all jokes aside, she says, “The fact that we have benefits available to us as GLBT associates is nice — that’s an added bonus. But the fact we’re supported and recognized is the key part.”
Denson grew up in Kansas. A nostalgic smile spreads across her face as she says, “I grew up on a farm in the ’80s, when I wished I could never live on a farm, and be Duran Duran.” She then graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in graphic design. Over time, she migrated into technology and eventually earned an executive master’s degree in business. She has continued to “work both sides of [her] brain” as an abstract expressionistic painter in her free time.
She also serves on several different committees for ArtsKC, the regional arts council. But her community involvement doesn’t end there. She has represented the Economic Development Council for Clay and Platte Counties, serves on the boards of directors for the Good Samaritan Project and Heartland Women’s Leadership Council, works with the YMCA, and more.
She finds the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to be a benefit to her, as well.
“I’ve had a lot of exposure to the business community in a various [and] sundry fashion. … You never know where [a] connection might lead you next. … It’s another way to support GLBT people as well and put [those businesses] out there and say, ‘We’re not any different than anyone else.’”
Denson reflects fondly on the support she has had throughout her life from her friends and family, saying “They let me be who I was — whether that was having punk rock hair one day or deciding that I’m going to be a scientist the next.”
Cerner has enjoyed a great deal of success since it was founded in 1979. And Denson’s is a story of success, too. To be able to establish a career with a company that genuinely values you for who you are is no small thing. It’s one of the many reasons that the MAGLCC is proud to partner with Cerner to help make the Midwest a more inclusive place to work.
Photo: Landon Vonderschmidt
The Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC) is an organization that advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and its allies. Learn more at www.maglcc.org.