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Women of Impact: Public Health Cohort Gathers in Pittsburgh

Members of the Women of Impact Public Health cohort.

Two dozen members of the newly established Women of Impact Public Health Cohort gathered in Pittsburgh last month to reflect and recharge.

Meeting August 7-9 at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation's airy 26th floor conference space, the women participated in an intensive leadership development training presented by the de Beaumont Foundation, which advances policy and builds partnerships to strengthen public health.

Participants took a step away from workaday obligations and distractions with a program called Your Indelible Mark™, created by consultancy Lumeri LLC to help successful, executive women cultivate their enduring legacy. Peggy Williams, senior partner and the program's facilitator, noted that women typically juggle not only their careers, but the management of their families and households, and often fail to take time to reflect and rejuvenate. Yet intentionally stepping away to do both is essential to leading well.

"Leaders who have a greater purpose in their line of sight are the best leaders," Williams said. "The clarity they bring to their work benefits them and those who work with them. Having clarity helps you know where to invest your energies – and where not to. There will always be people asking you to take on new projects. Remember that 'no' is a complete sentence," de Beaumont Senior Fellow Karen Remley concurred. "In order to rise in an organization, it's essential to turn down some opportunities for fewer, more meaningful ones. That needs to happen more in health care. Women make up more than two-thirds of the public health workforce, yet they are underrepresented in leadership roles and earn, on average, $3,000 less per year than their male counterparts."

Attendees were public health experts, including government health officials, physicians, and other leaders from nonprofits, healthcare systems, and universities that included Vanderbilt University, the University of Texas, Michigan State University, and the University of Pittsburgh; the health agencies of New York City, the state of Virginia, Sonoma County, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, and rural Kentucky; and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Each participant was tasked with considering how to make a lasting impact in public health. They also identified potential collaborations among the group to elevate critical public health issues. Members will continue to connect and partner on initiatives that improve public health across the country.

Taking seriously the charge to recharge, participants also enjoyed Pittsburgh at the peak of its summer beauty with walking tours of several of downtown's architectural gems and by kayaking the city's shimmering rivers.

The public health cohort is part of the larger Women of Impact, a by-invitation group of 70 executive-level women from all facets of the U.S. healthcare industry. Founded in 2013, Its overarching goal is to leverage the power of women's leadership to improve the U.S. healthcare system and ensure recognition for women as leaders. JHF President and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein is a founding member. JHF staff, including Women's Health Specialist Kate Dickerson, provide operational support. 

Women of Impact members prepare to embark on a kayaking session.
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