2021: A Year in Review

We want to take a moment to reflect on our 2021 successes that your commitment, your patronage, your innumerable volunteer hours, and your donations have made possible. The Carol Emmott Foundation would not be what it is today without the profound support of the Leadership Council, the Fellowship’s sponsoring organizations, the Collaborative member organizations, the Alumnae, and the many more leaders, colleagues, and friends throughout the nation who put their name behind our mission and give their time as our speakers, mentors, ambassadors, advocates, and more.

We thank you, the Carol Emmott Foundation community, who are leading the way to achieve fully inclusive gender equity in healthcare leadership and governance!

We look forward to continuing this important work with you, and we wish you a most successful 2022. Keep reading to see some of the highlights of 2021 that we would like to share with you, below.

~ Anne McCune, CEO and The Carol Emmott Foundation Team

The Fellowship

We conducted our first longitudinal extended network research, thanks to a grant from the Josiah Macy Junior Foundation, of the Fellowship’s impact on the career trajectories of the alumnae. Data were collected from December 2020 to April 2021 for the first and third cohorts of the Carol Emmott Fellowship focusing on two surveys:  1) within-cohort networks survey and, 2) extended networks survey.

The results were extremely positive, and we’re proud to share them with you.

Key Insights

Insight 1: The Fellowship is effectively building networks within and outside of Fellows’ immediate cohorts.

In fact, when asked to compare the Fellowship to all the various ways they have been able to develop networks, the Fellowship is rated as better than or among the best ways that Fellows have developed impactful networks throughout their careers.

Insight 2: Networks are sustained over time.

Only 12% of the respondents from the Extended Network (outside their immediate cohort) indicated they had not stayed in contact with the Fellows. Some relationships were initiated five years ago, indicating that the networks developed are enduring.

Insight 3: The within-cohort and extended networks are valuable in multiple ways.

The Fellows reported that they leveraged their networks in several ways, including sharing information with one another, encouragement and emotional support, and career advancement. Of these outcomes, career advancement had the lowest density for both cohorts, meaning that fewer Fellows were receiving and/or providing career advancement support than they were interacting in other ways.

Interestingly, while the direct support with career advancement may have been less frequent, there is evidence that these Fellows are supporting one another’s careers in important ways. For example, in both cohorts, 85% of the Fellows report that their satisfaction with their careers in healthcare had improved or significantly improved as a result of their within-cohort relationships. Another example is that 75% of cohort 1 Fellows and 85% of cohort 3 Fellows reported improvement in their own national visibility as a result of these relationships

Insight 4: The Fellows helped one another through the COVID-19 pandemic by sharing information specifically related to their organizations’ COVID-19 response.

The COVID networks were not as dense as general information sharing, meaning there was relatively less of this support. However, this type of collaboration and support was happening within both cohorts.

Insight 5: More distal outcomes such as advancing gender equity and advancing organizational objectives were less impacted than individual outcomes.

This is to be expected in that these outcomes go well beyond impact on one individual in the program. These outcomes require time and are influenced by multiple factors. It is encouraging that some Fellows do see their relationships contributing to these outcomes.

What does this mean?

For advancing gender equity. The results of this research provide clear evidence that networks are about more than just creating new friendships. Oftentimes, peer and professional relationships provided the additional benefit of sharing information that helped the women navigate challenges they faced in their organizations and their responses to a global pandemic, all which can directly or indirectly contribute to career advancement. Additionally, it was the relationships with the Extended Network that seemed to be particularly helpful for career advancement. Those in the Extended Network tended to be very senior level leaders in healthcare and were able to connect the Fellows with opportunities. Both types of relationships (peer and those with more visibility or seniority) are critical for women to advance.

For applicability to other leadership development initiatives. We cannot underestimate the power of the relationships that can be formed in a cohort-based leadership development program. This is applicable not just for women, and not just in healthcare contexts. In many programs, the intimate sense of community formed by participants is seen as a pleasant side-effect. This study adds to the growing awareness among researchers and leadership development professionals that the creation of strong, extensive networks should be a central objective of leadership development design, particularly for marginalized groups.

For networks’ role in supporting and retaining women leaders in healthcare. The within-cohort networks were particularly powerful in providing emotional support and encouragement. And both within-cohort and Extended Networks had a positive impact on these leaders’ job engagement and career satisfaction. Some of the comments provided in the survey pointed to an improvement in resilience and wellbeing as a result of these networks. This has tremendous implications for preventing burnout among senior women leaders in healthcare.

In the words of one of the Fellows who participated in the program, “The energy from the group propels me to cope, use my voice, have bravery and confidence, and the courage to pave a way forward for other women.” The Fellowship is developing a diverse community of remarkable women leaders, and together they can have a tremendously positive impact on gender equity in healthcare organizations.


While participating in the Fellowship, the extended Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 fellows worked tirelessly to combat a pandemic, stand up ICU clinics and telehealth in previously unheard of timeframes, and address employee burnout and an enormous reduction of the healthcare workforce, all while taking care of family, children, parents, and themselves.

These fearless and resilient women stepped up during a crisis not yet experienced in this generation. They leaned on each other, learned from each other, and shared their courage and leadership with each other and their communities. We applaud you all!

In 2021, The Fellowship welcomed two new health institutions, SCAN Health Plan and MaineHealth, as sponsoring organizations of three Class of 2021 fellows. Additionally, Mayo Clinic and the University of Oklahoma, Carol B. Emmott’s alma mater, signed on to sponsor a fellow each in the Class of 2022. We want to give a special thanks to the Lloyd & Peggy Stephens Foundation for providing a grant for the development of the Fellowship initiative in Oklahoma.

The Foundation offered three full Foundation-sponsored Fellowships (formerly referred to as scholarships) to three members of the Class of 2021 and four Foundation-sponsored Fellowships for the Class of 2022. Our CEF4 cohort, inspired by their own program year, led the charge to obtain funding to subsidize one Class of 2021 fellow, raising $54,000 in 75 days. We want to thank our incredible community for their generous contributions.

The Equity Collaborative

The Equity Collaborative completed its second full year and made measurable progress in the representation of women and women of color in senior management and on boards. The progress was due to the structural changes member organizations made in quantifying recruitment and selection processes and implementing best practice changes to promotion policies. We are moving into our third year with high momentum, strong partnerships with ACHE and McKinsey, and numerous success stories behind us that help keep us energized and engaged in our work.

We are seeing real, measurable changes.

  • Equity Collaborative members have increased the number of women in senior leadership over three years. While there is variation among members, the Collaborative average has moved from 51% to 53%.
  • TEC members all report that diversity, equity, and inclusion are high priorities, and the majority of organizations report that senior leaders have accountability for achieving diversity goals.
  • TEC members are clearly trying to recruit women of color through changes in recruitment methods.
  • The majority of TEC members report that they have made changes in their recruitment, selection, and performance review processes to reduce bias and make them more inclusive.

Some stories from our Collaborative members about organization changes they are making that we want to share with you:

Rush Health
During the pandemic, Rush created a Racial Justice Action Committee. Believing that Rush has an opportunity to excel in the diversity, inclusion, equity, and anti-racism space, and can become the place where more people want to work, receive healthcare, and learn, they collected qualitative survey data on the lived experience based on racial and other marginalized identities from individuals throughout the organization. Their recommendations have been fully accepted, and a plan of action is under development.

HCA Healthcare
As a foundational piece of their larger strategy to retain and advance colleagues of color and women, HCA Healthcare has launched a sponsorship program that pairs high potential Black leaders with senior executives who are invested in offering valuable guidance, creating opportunities for exposure, and advocating for the advancement of their protégés. This is a phased approach that will expand in scope to include a broader focus on leaders of color and female leaders by the end of 2022.

Alumnae Network

The Alumnae Network hosted its second annual meeting virtually with opportunities for group gatherings and one-on-one “virtual speed networking.” Twenty-one alumnae from the Class of 2020 and 21 from the Class of 2021 were welcomed into the fold, adding to our quickly growing network of 93 women leaders who have completed the Fellowship. Despite a zoom-fatigued world, we had considerable participation at the Alumnae Network meeting with equal representation across all cohorts, as well as a robust turnout from our community at the subsequent 2nd Annual Christine Malcolm Symposium where much love and excitement was shared among attendees.

Leadership Council

The Leadership Council, a group of about 50 senior executive healthcare leaders from across the nation, representing health system CEOs, C-suite executives from payer organizations, leading global health consultancies, and others, took on an expanded role to provide strategic thought leadership in support of The Carol Emmott Foundation’s two initiatives. By expanding the focus of the council from a Fellowship-focused council to one that supports the full Foundation, we are excited to leverage our collective voice to accelerate change in gender equity in healthcare organizations. Many of these prominent leaders have spent time shaping the unique network that sets apart the Foundation while also volunteering as keynote speakers, panelists, and experts in their field for the Fellowship and The Equity Collaborative. Leadership Council members have virtual and in person opportunities to connect throughout the year with peer leaders from other institutions working toward similar goals and facing similar challenges; others have created lifelong relationships with the fellows they have mentored; others yet are focused on ensuring a national and robust pipeline of women leaders ready to step into senior roles.

Twenty-one hand-selected mentors supported the Fellowship Class of 2020 through the end of their expanded Fellowship journey which they completed in September 2021. Twenty-one new mentors volunteered their invaluable time and expertise to the members of our 5th Fellowship cohort, the Class of 2021.

“Mentoring Palav has given me a terrific opportunity to get know a talented and engaging individual who is trying to make a difference for the most vulnerable among us. It has also been a wonderful opportunity for me to learn about MediCal and to delve, by proxy, into the challenges that a bright, skilled mid-career female health care leader has to grapple with as she takes on major new public sector responsibilities.”
~ David Blumenthal, President of The Commonwealth Fund

Just In Time Expert Resource Advisor volunteers from our Leadership Council responded to increasingly diverse requests from the fellows and alumnae for expertise in areas ranging from increasing quality while lowering costs, to advising on CEO work/life balance, to staff recognition and retention strategies. Over the course of the year, Just In Time advisors offered 12 consultations, and the specialty group is garnering great interest among the alumnae as well as current fellows.

Larry J. Goodman, CEF Leadership Council member and former CEO of Rush University Medical Center and president of Rush University, was paired as a Just In Time advisor with Ratan Milevoj, ’20, director of innovation and organizational renewal and assistant chief strategy officer at Valley Children’s Healthcare. Milevoj was interested in gaining a broader perspective on leadership taking a position on sociopolitical issues; how to position herself and her ideas within the senior team; whether to change her approach to others as a senior team member, and work/life balance. According to Milevoj, “It was one of the best conversations I have had in a long time. We spoke about leadership style, work-life balance, governance, politics at work, and making an impact. I left the conversation inspired and encouraged.”

Branding & Engagement

We rebranded! At the beginning of 2021, and with the help of our community, we rolled out a brand new look that illustrates our bold ideas, thinking, and actions. Through the grapevine, we heard that Carol B. Emmott loved these particular colors, which pleases us that her presence continues to be felt loud and clear.

We began regular monthly newsletters highlighting news from the Foundation community and resources as well as established a social media presence to help support our mission and share as an entry point for more in-depth engagement with the Foundation’s initiatives. We helped alumnae, fellows, and Collaborative members publish compelling articles exemplifying their thought leadership in gender equity in healthcare.

Finally, we are proud to showcase our very own CEO, Anne McCune, who received the Modern Healthcare’s 2021 Top 25 Women Leaders award. Additionally, more than a dozen of our Board members and Leadership Council members were awarded for their leadership in 2021 by Modern Healthcare, Becker’s Hospital Review, and other prestigious trade publications.

With your help we will continue to ‘move the needle’ and positively influence the face of healthcare leadership and patient outcomes in a more equity-driven world!

Help support us by investing in women leaders now!