Dear IRL Fellows:
People often ask me what unique drive, mindset, or values motivate someone to pursue a leadership role. As I’ve had the pleasure of working with and coaching leaders throughout my career, one key trait stands out above the rest for me: Leaders care deeply about people and the world, and they see a gap between where we are and where we could be.
That desire to make things better is part of my own leadership journey, too. As a child I saw inequities in how people received health care in Dominica, where I grew up. So I became a doctor. Once I felt the deep satisfaction of using my leadership to make things better, I knew my next opportunity was to help others pursue their own leadership journey.
Joining the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—working with our leadership development programs—felt like the next logical step in that journey. It has allowed me to step outside the traditional fields of health and work with leaders across all disciplines who desire to build a culture of health.
The work happening in Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) and the other leadership programs is wildly inspiring: they provide such a vivid illustration of the power of leadership. That’s why I was so proud when Richard Besser, RWJF’s president and CEO, chose to highlight the programs in his annual message. In his definition of three guiding principles of RWJF’s work, I see IRL shining bright. The principles are:
Principle #1: Action must be grounded in evidence. No one knows this better than the IRL teams who use engaged research to create change.
Principle #2: Equity is about opportunity. Your work in urban and rural communities where inequities exist is creating opportunity in places where it has been suppressed before.
Principle #3: Voice + action = change. Leaders have to get our ideas out of our heads and into practice. IRL inspires leaders to do the work, then to share it with policymakers and other influencers so it takes hold.
Thank you for your creativity, persistence, and daily modeling of these principles. Thank you for caring deeply and for seeing the opportunity to improve the lives of all people. We can’t do it without you.
RWJF Leadership Program’s Managing Director Kaytura Felix, MD, heads RWJF’s efforts to develop leadership within its Clinical Scholars, Culture of Health Leaders, Health Policy Research Scholars and Interdisciplinary Research Leaders programs. Dr. Kaytura has been with RWJF since 2016.
Dear IRL Fellows: