Stony Brook Medicine Summit Uplifts Women in Healthcare Leadership

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Dr. Aleksandra Krajewski

Only 25 percent of healthcare executive leadership positions are held by women, despite women accounting for 70 percent of the healthcare sector worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In surgical healthcare fields, this number is even lower.

With this discrepancy in mind, the first Women in Healthcare Leadership Summit was created and hosted by the Stony Brook Division of Plastic Surgery’s Dr. Aleksandra Krajewski.

Held on May 3 at Stony Brook Medicine’s MART Auditorium, the summit’s aim was to bring together Stony Brook’s female healthcare providers to create a forum for discussion, build a community of future leaders and offer advice for women seeking healthcare leadership positions.

Dr. Krajewski, who opened the summit, said, “The inaugural women in healthcare leadership summit accomplished its mission by bringing together talented women leaders at Stony Brook of diverse backgrounds for a day of inspiration, education, and comradery. We hope this the first of many impactful events for the women in healthcare at Stony Brook.”

Keynote Speaker

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Judith Brown Clarke

Judith Brown Clarke, Stony Brook’s vice president for Equity & Inclusion and chief diversity officer, delivered the keynote address. Her powerful, inspiring speech touched on her success in education, management, politics and as an Olympic athlete.

“At the Women in Healthcare Leadership Summit, we celebrate the power of empowered women who lead with compassion, innovate with purpose, and inspire change in healthcare,” said Clarke. “Their leadership is the heartbeat of progress, propelling us towards a healthier, more equitable future for all. We don’t just discuss productivity and excellence; we embrace the place where empowerment meets action, and transformation begins.”

First Panel Session

After a Q&A session with Clarke, the leadership lectures began. First up at the lectern was Patricia Cooper, chief compliance officer, Stony Brook Medicine, who delivered a lecture titled, “Shattering Limitations: Insights from Breaking the Glass Ceiling.” She spoke of her personal journey, the challenges she faced and, ultimately, her road to a leadership position.

First panel of whls speakers
Left to right: Patricia Cooper, Ally Silver and Anne Walsh-Feeks

Ally Silver, operations, Surgical Services, Stony Brook University Hospital, followed with a talk about mentorship and sponsorship. She stressed the importance of strong guidance and encouragement as an essential tool for women seeking leadership positions in healthcare.

The first interactive/panel session closed with Anne Walsh-Feeks, assistant dean and chief operating officer for Ambulatory Services, Stony Brook Medicine, who delivered a talk titled, “Navigating the Leadership Labyrinth: Strategies for Women in Healthcare.” She spoke about the unique challenges faced by women in the healthcare field.

Cooper, Silver and Walsh-Feeks then participated in a Q&A session with the attendees.

Second Panel Session

The second half of the summit kicked off with Carolyn Santora, chief nursing officer, Chief of Regulatory Affairs, Stony Brook Medicine, who delivered a lecture on Leading with Authenticity: Embracing Your Unique Leadership Style.” She spoke on the objective of leading with confidence while being true to yourself.

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Left to right: Carolyn Santora, Stella Tsirka and Dr. Olga Aroniadis

Next was a talk titled, “Strategic Career Planning for Women in Medical Leadership,” presented by Stella Tsirka, vice dean for Faculty Affairs and director, Scholars in Biomedical Sciences Program, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. She discussed how women can outline their medical careers to follow a path to a position of authority.

The closing speaker was Dr. Olga Aroniadis, chief, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Stony Brook University Hospital; director, Masters of Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Program in Public Health, Renaissance School of Medicine. She delivered a talk called, “Balancing Act: Juggling Leadership and Personal Life in Healthcare,” which focused on work/life integration, as she touched on her personal challenges of being a mother and a healthcare leader.

“The Women in Healthcare Leadership Summit was energizing and invigorating,” said Dr. Aroniadis. “The event was filled with uplifting stories and tips on shattering the glass ceiling, leading with authenticity, mentorship and sponsorship, strategic planning, and harmonizing life and work. It was an honor to participate among a few of Stony Brook’s phenomenal female leaders who have forged successful career paths and are invested in supporting all those around them. Congratulations to Dr. Krajewski for her extraordinary leadership planning this event.”

A final Q&A session continued the discussions about unconscious bias, sexual harassment/bullying and overcoming barriers to advancement. Dr. Krajewski followed with her closing remarks in which she thanked all of the speakers and attendees for their participation, expressed a desire to make the summit an annual event, and urged Stony Brook’s women in healthcare to strive for more diversity, equity, and opportunities in executive-level positions.

Please visit the Stony Brook Surgical Associates website to read the complete article.

— Dan Olawski, Department of Surgery


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