Despite the greater numbers of women matriculating at our nation’s medical, dental and public health schools, women are still considerably underrepresented at the topmost administrative ranks of academic health centers. At the University of Cincinnati, UC LEAF and UC’s Diversity Plan have made targeted efforts to encourage leadership growth and advancement among women and minorities.
One example of movement toward that goal is the UC College of Medicine’s history of faculty engagement in the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine® (ELAM) program, an intensive one-year fellowship of leadership training offered at Drexel University. Specially developed for senior women faculty who demonstrate the greatest potential for assuming executive leadership positions at academic health centers within the next five years, the fellowship offers extensive coaching, networking and mentoring opportunities aimed at expanding the national pool of qualified women candidates for leadership in academic medicine, dentistry and public health.
For the 2016–2017 year, two UC College of Medicine faculty have been awarded the ELAM fellowship:
- Dawn Kleindorfer, MD, a professor in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, associate dean of faculty development and women’s initiatives for the College of Medicine and co-director of the UC Comprehensive Stroke Center.
- Christy Holland, PhD, a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, and in the Biomedical Engineering Program in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and director of research in the UC Heart, Lung, and Vascular Institute (UCHLVI).
The program runs the full academic year with assignments, in-depth self-assessments and leadership observation exercises.
“It’s a substantial contribution of time, and part of the process is delegating and learning responsibilities, figuring out what you can and can’t do—it helps your personal leadership training to figure out how to accommodate the fellowship into your day-to-day roles and responsibilities,” says Kleindorfer. “You must attend, and you must be focused; they want your support and your university’s full support to do this.”
Melanie Cushion, PhD, senior associate dean for research in the College of Medicine and a 2011 ELAM fellow, says, “The training is invaluable for their personal development as well as development of their leadership potential. The ELAM program focuses on many key aspects necessary for preparation as university leaders, such as finance and managerial styles, but also provides a network of women in these key positions both nationally and internationally.
“Historically, women have not had access to leadership networks. By creating cohorts of 50-plus fellows per year as well as individual learning communities, ELAM creates a broad network whereby women leaders can call upon colleagues for problem solving, innovations and best practices. The program has been critical to establishing an infrastructure which has impacted academic medicine and continues to contribute to the need for diversity at the top levels of leadership.”
Cushion adds that the college has had “an impressive number of fellows accepted into the ELAM program.”
Alex Lentsch, PhD, senior associate dean for faculty affairs and development, agrees.
“If you look at our ELAM alums what you see is a remarkable list of academic leaders,” says Lentsch. “The fact that both Drs. Holland and Kleindorfer were accepted in the same year just underscores the quality of our women faculty and their potential to be outstanding leaders. The College of Medicine has a renewed commitment in this regard, and it is apropos that Dr. Kleindorfer will help us lead this effort.”
Kleindorfer: new role to mentor leadership development, nurture career growth
In Kleindorfer’s role as associate dean for women’s initiatives, she says of the ELAM fellowship, “I think it’s critical for me.” She sees the fellowship as a great alignment with her new leadership role and hopes what she gains from it can have a positive impact on the work environment of female faculty and create a culture of mentorship for all.
Brett Kissela, MD, Albert Barnes Voorheis Chair of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, says of Kleindorfer, “By nature, she is a talented, collaborative leader who helps grow the careers of those scientists and physicians with whom she collaborates; she brings out the best in people who work with her. Her scientific accomplishments have certainly made a lasting impact on both scientific research and her trainees and mentees.”
“In her new role, Dr. Kleindorfer is working on the creation of a college-wide approach to faculty mentoring, engaging women faculty to address issues that will improve the promotion and retention of women faculty in medicine and science,” says Kissela. “Specifically, she is identifying issues that contribute to the disparities in this faculty population related to promotion, retention and work environment.”
Holland: collaboration across colleges will foster faculty growth, research innovation
“Dr. Holland has played a critical role in the development and the tactical implementation of our department’s strategic plan,” says Gregory Rouan, MD, Gordon and Helen Hughes Taylor Chair and Professor of Internal Medicine. “With her help, and the help of many others, we have implemented a shared governance model supported by four governance committees. Three of those are mission-based, and the fourth is a finance executive committee. We have shared core values and principles that have inspired the success of faculty and the department at large.
“Dr. Holland’s passion and expertise in this regard has been crucial for why we, as a department, have been successful.”
“Of significant importance is her ability to inspire and lead while expecting the most from her mentees and colleagues, all the while holding herself to the highest standards and being emblematic as a role model,” adds Rouan.
Holland says she was honored to be chosen as part of the ELAM program. She plans to take the opportunity to help develop a clear vision of the future for collaborative research between the UC Colleges of Medicine and Engineering and Applied Sciences, as well as to serve as a catalyst to align the UCHLVI in the College of Medicine with the College of Engineering around research and educational programs. She is particularly interested in faculty development initiatives within the UCHLVI and College of Medicine to promote individual and team behaviors that create a respectful, inclusive, productive and innovative environment.
Currently Mary Mahoney, MD, Ben Felson Endowed Chair and Professor of Radiology, is finishing up an ELAM fellowship for 2015-2016.
The ELAM program was established in 1995 and is sponsored by Drexel University College of Medicine. The program has nearly 700 graduates, many in leadership positions (from department chair to president) at academic medical centers and universities across the country.
Following is a list of ELAM graduates from the UC College of Medicine:
Stella Davies, PhD (2012–2013)
Professor of pediatrics and director of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Immune Deficience at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Mercedes Falciglia, MD (2012–2013)
Associate professor and an endocrinologist with UC Health and the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VA).
Evaline Alessandrini, MD (2011–12)
Assistant vice president of outcomes systems, James M. Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence at Cincinnati Children’s and professor of pediatrics.
Melanie T. Cushion, PhD (2010–11)
Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and the senior associate dean for research at the College of Medicine; research career scientist at the Cincinnati VA.
Shuk-mei Ho, PhD (2009–10)
Jacob A. Schmidlapp Chair and Professor of Environmental Health.
Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD (2009–10)
Kindervelt Endowed Chair in Asthma Research and director of the Division of Asthma Research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, director of the Medical Scientist (MD/PhD) Training Program.
Maria Britto, MD (2005–06)
Professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Innovation in Chronic Disease Care and assistant vice president for chronic care systems at Cincinnati Children’s.
Uma Kotagal, MBBS (2001–02)
Professor of pediatrics and Cincinnati Children’s senior vice president for quality and transformation and director of health policy and clinical effectiveness.
Ardythe Morrow, PhD (2000–01)
Director of the Cincinnati Children’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Human Milk and Lactation and professor of pediatrics.
Lori Stark, PhD (2000–01)
Director, Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at Cincinnati Children’s and professor of pediatrics.
Jannette Collins, MD (1999–00)
Former Ben Felson Professor and Chair of Radiology and professor of medicine.
Laura Wexler, MD (1999–00)
Adjunct professor of medicine and cardiology, former senior associate dean of student affairs and admissions.
Sandra Degen, PhD (1997–98)
Former UC vice president for research, and professor emerita of pediatrics.