Four months ago, I joined MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) as the new Director of Health for America (HFA) at MedStar Health. At its heart, HFA is a talent development program, so I believe the spotlight should be on the fellows. But since “school’s out for summer” given the 2015-16
fellows just finished their program and our next class joins in mid-September, it seems like a fitting time to pause and introduce myself.
So what led me to HFA? To the amusement of my colleagues, I learned about the job through a “moms’ group” mass email…meaning I appreciate the power of loose networks. Looking at the bigger picture, I was attracted to the opportunity because of my personal fellowship experience, background in health care and talent development, and desire to make a difference. I’ll share a bit more about each.
A Fellow Fellow
Upon graduating from Purdue University (Boiler up!) with a bachelor’s degree in communications, I joined the Orr Fellowship: a two-year entrepreneurial fellowship that was only in its second year at the time. It matches recent college graduates with growing Indiana companies and gives fellows the chance to learn directly from the business owners, join a network of ambitious peers, and advance their professional development through fellowship-led learning and networking opportunities. I was matched with a one-of-a-kind meeting and event management company that largely served healthcare organizations, learned a great deal about business, and formed friendships with peers who are still achieving amazing things that inspire me.
More than a decade later, the Orr Fellowship is thriving. It has grown tremendously, offers a phenomenal new curriculum, and is led by an impressive board, executive director, and fellows. Not too long ago, as I was listening to NPR, I heard the name of one of the fellows from my class as the reporter discussed innovative research he helped lead—reminding me how lucky I am to be counted among this program’s alumni.
Clearly, this experience made a lasting mark on me personally and professionally. It demonstrated that unique fellowships can educate, connect, inspire, and differentiate young professionals. Perhaps most importantly, I’m still experiencing the rewards of taking a calculated risk on a promising new initiative.
Passions for Health Care and Talent Development
Since my fellowship, I’ve gained a decade of diverse communications experience in corporate, agency, and nonprofit environments. Over the years, I primarily served external and internal clients in the healthcare and talent development arenas, learning from global pharmaceutical companies, government healthcare agencies, a healthcare trade organization, and a major insurer. I witnessed the need to address healthcare challenges through the type of out-of-the-box efforts HFA fosters.
Additionally, through my talent development work, I was fortunate to represent truly top-notch diversity and inclusion, recruiting, learning and development, and workplace efforts at a Big Four professional services firm and for a multinational nonprofit. Not only did this help me grow professionally, it informs how I think about so many of my HFA operational responsibilities.
Setting an Example
Outside of work, my husband and I are raising two very young daughters, one who is nearly 3-years-old and the other is turning 1-year-old this week. My very talkative (the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree) older daughter constantly reminds me that everything I’m doing now—big and small—sets an example. (You see her pictured here making an HFA-inspired, WellRooted meal with me!)
Not surprisingly, I took my current career move very seriously. It wasn’t just about finding something that built on past experience. I wanted to try something new while making a difference.
Then I “met” Health for America at MedStar Health. And I remembered what happened the last time I bet on a promising new fellowship. Only this time, I had the chance to help lead it.
Since MedStar Health became the permanent home of HFA earlier this year, my position is new to MI2. However, many remarkable professionals have directed HFA before me, and my colleagues at MI2 and MedStar Health have made tremendous contributions to advance the program in recent years. It’s also incredible how many mentors in the HFA network donate their time and talents. I’m very thankful for what these leaders have done to help educate and inspire me, and to make HFA what it is today.