April 16, 2014 — Make time in your schedule for mentorship. Get over the fear of self-promotion. And by all means, learn principles of finance. These were some of the leadership lessons that nearly 100 students and alumnae heard echoed during the annual student-alumnae Women in Leadership Conference at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) on March 29. Organized by the HSPH Women in Leadership (WIL) student organization and sponsored by the Office for Alumni Affairs, the conference gave students and alumnae the opportunity to engage in thoughtful discussions around the role of women in public health leadership.
The morning opened with remarks from Saundra Pelletier, CEO of WomanCare Global and Evofem. She talked about her experience bridging the public and private spheres to help women around the world access contraceptives and family planning. She urged the women in the audience to embrace the advantages of being a woman in a leadership role, pointing out that, compared with men, women are better able to make personal connections with colleagues, a valuable asset in leaders.
After Q&A with Pelletier, the audience attended panel sessions led by HSPH faculty and alumni. Apurv Gupta, MPH ’94 and Amy Rosenthal, MPH ’01 discussed health care reform, helping attendees get up to speed on the Affordable Care Act implementation. Faculty member Rick Siegrist, adjunct lecturer on health care management, alumna Priya Agrawal, MPH ’06, and faculty/alumna Donna Spiegelman, SD ’89, professor of epidemiologic methods, shared perspectives from industry and academia on advancing careers. Maureen Connor, an expert in health care quality improvement, presented a case study of medical error that demonstrated the importance of honesty and thoroughness in addressing crisis. Francesca Dominici, professor of biostatistics, and alumnae Joan Reede, SM ’92 and Stephanie Kayden, MPH ’06 led a panel that focused on the impact of gender stereotypes in the workplace and how to overcome them.
At the conference’s closing session, WIL organizers announced the recently-piloted Alumnae Network mentoring program, which will match students with alumnae in formal mentoring relationships. Said conference organizer Tari Owi, SM ’14 of the event, “It was encouraging and inspiring to be surrounded by so many engaged professionals who took time away from their work to share their experiences and learn from established and emerging leaders alike.”