Alumni, National Leaders, Students Converge for Leadership Conference

May 08, 2017

On the morning of May 6, 2017, over 150 of the UI College of Pharmacy’s students, faculty, alumni, and friends gathered in downtown Iowa City to attend the second annual Zada Cooper Leadership Symposium. The symposium is an opportunity for the pharmacy community to celebrate and advance their leadership roles in their professions, volunteer organizations, and personal lives. And this year’s attendees were able to hear from two of pharmacy’s top leaders on what makes a good leader—Lisa Gersema and Nancy Alvarez.

National Leaders

Lisa M. Gersema, '84 BSPh, '86 PharmD, is a loyal Hawkeye and two-time alumna of the College of Pharmacy, who completed a fellowship in clinical pharmacology. She is president of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), an esteemed professional organization within the profession of pharmacy. Additionally, as director of pharmacy and residency program at United Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, she oversees a progressive pharmacy department supporting a 400-bed tertiary care hospital for adult patients. Gersema earned her Masters of Health Care Administration from Simmons College.

Read more about Gersema here.

Nancy Alvarez, PharmD, is the president of the largest professional organization for pharmacy practitioners, the American Pharmacists Association. While her trip to Iowa City for the symposium was her first visit to the state, she has worked alongside Iowans such as Matt Osterhaus, Melissa Murer Corrigan, and Farah Towfic for years. Alvarez is the assistant dean of experiential education and continuing professional development and clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice in the Chapman University School of Pharmacy, in Orange, California. She is a graduate of The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist.

Read more about Alvarez here.

“What an amazing opportunity to celebrate leadership with the Zada Cooper Symposium! Today’s world is filled with challenges, chaos, and confusion. The Zada Cooper keynote speakers were beacons of light, sharing a common vision of leadership, GRIT, and passion for pharmacy. Zada Cooper would have loved the diverse audience, men and women, students, residents and practitioners collaborating and sharing insights,” said Melissa Murer Corrigan, vice president for social impact strategy and programs at ACT. Corrigan was also instrumental in founding the Zada Cooper Leadership Symposium.

Enriching Breakout Sessions

Between these two inspiring keynote sessions, attendees were able to take part in skills-building interactive breakout sessions. From exercises in mindfulness to public speaking, participants were pushed and encouraged to develop leadership skills and become well-rounded members of any team.

Lucinda Harms, ’83 BSPh, who is a health consultant, attended a breakout session on utilizing yogic tools in day-to-day life. As she said, “[The instructor] provided some very easy and short yoga poses and breathing that could be done on the job...at your desk or standing at the counter. Although I practice yoga on a regular basis, I never really thought about checking in to see what it is I might need on a particular day or at a particular time and letting that dictate my practice for the day.”

The sessions that were offered this year included:

  • Leading Mindfully from the Inside Out, Presented by Bev Klug, MA, LMFT, director of Mindfulness-Based Programs, Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa Health Care
  • Valuable Speech, Valuable Feedback, Presented by the Pharmacy Communicators Association/Toastmasters International
  • Yogic Tools for Presence, Resilience, and Greater Peace, Presented by Jennifer New, associate director, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies
  • Emotionally-Intelligent Leadership Adventure, Presented by Nikole Mac, director of leadership development, University of Iowa

About the Symposium

Iowa pharmacy is known for its outstanding leaders. Nationwide, pharmacists and pharmacy students are fully aware that Iowa sets the bar for pharmacy education, collaboration, and innovation. The truth is that leadership is very much a part of Iowa pharmacy's history.

Dating back to the early days of pharmacy education, the UI College of Pharmacy cultivated pioneers. One of those remarkable leaders was Zada Mary Cooper (1875–1961), who graduated from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 1897, and continued as a faculty member until retiring in 1942. She was one of the founders of the Women’s Section of APhA, founder of Kappa Epsilon Fraternity and the Rho Chi Society, and secretary of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy from 1922 to 1942. She was an advocate of women in pharmacy, and later became known as the “grand and glorious lady of pharmacy.”