Announcing Inaugural Class of the Carol Emmott Fellowship for Women Leaders in Health

Transformative leadership development program seeks to be a game changer

Fifteen dynamic and innovative women from across the US have been selected to the inaugural class of the Carol Emmott Fellowship (CEF), a cutting-edge program based at the Public Health Institute which accelerates the leadership capacity and impact of women leaders in health.

The newly launched Fellowship is one of only a few mid-career initiatives seeking to fill a critical vacuum in establishing the next generation of women leaders who will further transform health.

“These women are uniquely qualified to address the social determinants of health and bridge the disparities in leadership and throughout healthcare,” observed Joanne Conroy, chief executive officer of Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, a Founding Sponsor.

“They are accomplished professionals already demonstrating outstanding leadership abilities and results,” said Christine Malcolm, director of the Fellowship. “They are of diverse backgrounds and health disciplines, and are well positioned to have significant impact across the spectrum of health services.”

The Fellows were nominated by 12 prestigious Founding Sponsors – organizations committed to working with the Fellowship to shape a growing network of remarkable women in the top ranks of leadership, with the tremendous influence that confers.

The 14-month intensive program pairs Fellows with hand-selected mentors who are nationally recognized senior health leaders. Each Fellow will plan and direct an impact project in her health community and “pay it forward” with the subsequent class of Fellows, thus developing a pipeline and rich, lifelong network of collaborators and influencers.

“While the need for smart, savvy, caring leaders in this turbulent era of healthcare has never been more important, women leaders continue to be significantly underrepresented in STEM, the C-suite and the Boardroom,” noted Carilion Clinic’s President and CEO Nancy Howell Agee, a Founding Sponsor of the program.

Though women dominate the lower and mid-level healthcare workforce and comprise half the enrollment in US medical schools, their numbers remain scarce not only in the CEO and Boardroom ranks but in academic deanships. Pay disparities continue at all levels, most notably for physicians. Women of color face added barriers. When coupled with the fact that women make the overwhelming majority of family health decisions, it is imperative to close the gap – for benefit of the consumer, the organization, and the nation’s GDP.

Studies show that leadership and mentoring help women reach more senior positions and can close gaps in pay as well. “The Carol Emmott Fellowship creates a strong network of colleagues and mentors so women can further hone leadership skills and capabilities—and then these women can mentor the next generation,” stressed Mary Pittman, DrPh, chief executive officer and president of the Public Health Institute and member of the CEF governing board. “This represents a huge shift in how we build opportunity, and ultimately see more women’s voices reflected in healthcare decisions and policies.”

The Fellowship reflects the life work of Carol B. Emmott (1946-2015), who throughout her 40-year career in health policy and executive search was instrumental in and dedicated to the rise of women to the upper echelons of the health sector.

Each of the Founding Sponsors is providing a remarkable opportunity for these women leaders in their health community and beyond. Short biographies for each Fellow are available at



  • Cynthia Boyd, MD, associate professor of medicine, vice president, chief compliance officer, Rush University Medical Center, assistant dean of admissions & recruitment, Rush Medical College, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

  • Gina L. Calder, MPH, vice president of ambulatory services, Bridgeport Hospital, Yale New Haven Health System, New Haven, CT

  • Carolyn Carpenter, MHA, FACHE, chief operating officer, Duke University Hospital, Duke University Health System, Durham, NC

  • Tracey W. Criss, MD, interim co-chair, department of psychiatry, assistant dean for clinical science years 3 and 4, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Carilion Clinic, Roanoke, VA        

  • Girlynda Gonzales, MSN, RN, CCRN, NEA-BC, executive director of adult inpatient services, Walnut Creek Campus, John Muir Health, Bay Area, CA

  • Thomasine Gorry, MD, MGA, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology & cataract surgery, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA

  • Richa Gupta, MBBS, MHSA, chief quality officer, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

  • Tonya Hongsermeier, MD, MBA, vice president & chief medical information officer, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, Burlington, MA

  • Chantel Johnson, RN, PhD, NE-BC, director of pediatrics, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Mountain View, CA

  • Jeri Koester, vice president of operations, MCIS, Inc. Marshfield Clinic Health System, Inc., Marshfield, WI

  • Martha Lauderdale, MPA, director, Sutter improvement system, interim vice president ancillary operations, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Mountain View, CA 

  • Barbara Ronda, MHSA, associate vice president & chief administrative officer, University of Miami Health System/BDC Advisors, Miami, FL

  • Carey Unger, MHA, associate vice president, neurosciences & behavioral health, Duke University Health System, Durham, NC

  • Donna Wellington, MBA, BSN, vice president operations, Henry Ford Hospital, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI

  • Marva Williams-Lowe, PharmD, MHA, regional director of pharmacy, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, Hanover, NH


The Carol Emmott Fellowship for Women Leaders in Health is designed to further outstanding mid-career women leaders by developing the networks and leadership capabilities required to create constructive change in the health field. It is an independent program based at the Public Health Institute, a California nonprofit. To learn more about the Carol Emmott Fellowship, please visit us at