Thursday, May 23, 2024

More than 130 attendees learned about belonging at the 2024 Zada Cooper Leadership Symposium, hosted by and at the UI College of Pharmacy. Whether it was about belonging in a community, career, leadership role, or by being true to one’s own needs and values, each speaker delivered that message during the May 4 annual event.

Zada-Arya Keynote Presenting 2024
Vibhuti Arya

Be the Antioxidant
Vibhuti Arya, professor at St. John's University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and clinical advisor to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, delivered the Domer Distinguished Visiting Lecturer keynote address, discussing a “Web of Lives” and belonging in a complex world. Using a pharmacy metaphor, she likened being caught up in systemic traditions that create obstacles to inclusivity and broader thinking as “free radicals.” 

“We need to gut our narratives. The norm is the barrier. We need to flip it,” she said. “We may not be at fault or to blame for the systems we’re in, but it is our responsibility. We are the antioxidant.”

Arya challenged her audience to change the odds instead of beating the odds. “Ask how am I showing up to make a difference? We need diverse perspectives and to cultivate an environment for critical thinking. Show up with curiosity. Ask (people) what they want and have a conversation,” she said. 

The American Pharmacists Association Board of Trustees member added humility must be a cornerstone, “otherwise we judge ourselves and others. (You) need to have compassion for yourself (and) find moments to show up and use the system to show compassion and grace for someone. Be the antioxidant, (and have) others in (your) lives be your antioxidant and say, ‘I got you.’”

Zada-Audience Asking Question 2024
Graduate student Enas Yehya asks a question during the keynote address.

Leading and Connecting
Four breakout sessions offered expertise and inspiration from influential leaders. UI College of Pharmacy Associate Professor of Instruction Kathryn Smith presented “Am I a Leader?” She defined a leader as someone who demonstrates the attitudes, values, and behaviors expected of one who has come to think, act, and feel like a leader. “Becoming a leader is a lifelong process. It’s not something that happens in one day, or even one year,” said Smith.

Smith outlined the stages of leadership development as knowledge, competence, performance, action, and identity. She added identity development starts with existing personal identities, evolves through socialization under the influence of factors such as self-assessment, and concludes with personal/professional identities – who you become. Leader identity formation can be accelerated by goal setting, challenging experiences, and more.

Opposite Smith, Lindsey Ludwig, executive director of the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN)-Iowa, discussed how “Advocacy Matters.” She noted that pharmacy needs to exist at all levels to work – hospital pharmacy, long-term care, community, and more. 

“Use your network to share (pharmacy’s) story and your story to anyone and everyone,” said Ludwig. Ideas she suggested included joining state and national associations, attending legislative days, talking to local businesses, and posting on social media. “Encourage everyone to advocate on your behalf,” she said.

Zada-Panel 2024
Left to right: Emmeline Paintsil, Julie Cunningham, CoraLynn Trewet, and R. Taylor Reed

Navigating Career and Requests
The “Belonging Throughout Your Career Labyrinth” panel featured Iowa Pharmacy Association Director, Professional Affairs Emmeline Paintsil as moderator. Panelists were Julie Cunningham, associate chief pharmacy officer, Mayo Clinic; R. Taylor Reed, executive director, Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio; and CoraLynn Trewet, regional medical director-Nephrology, Amgen. 

The group imparted to be open-minded throughout the career journey and stay curious or say yes when unexpected opportunities come up. “Everyone wants a career strategy and a plan, but more important is to learn and be open. Be brave in the spaces that you are,” said Trewet. Added Cunningham, “You don’t have to have a 10-year plan. Be willing to jump in.”

Handling career setbacks was another topic broached. “There’s a grieving process,” shared Reed. Paintsil agreed, “There are lots of emotions – anger, frustration. Take a step back, but don’t leave.” 

The last breakout session was from Michele Williams, UI Henry B. Tippie research fellow in Entrepreneurship, Management and Entrepreneurship and associate professor, Management and Entrepreneurship. An eager audience absorbed from her “When to Say Yes and How to Negotiate What You Want."

Williams, co-author of The Four Capabilities Leadership Assessment – an online 360° assessment used by organizations to enhance the leadership potential of managers, outlined “The Art of Saying No (and Yes)” in four strategies.* 

Zada-Lauren Gravert 2024
PharmD student and volunteer Lauren Gravert

Strategy 1:   The positive no mindset. 
Saying no can be helpful, and a request is a problem-solving opportunity.

Strategy 2:  Find your absolute no.
This type of no is highly challenging. It requires us all to face our fears—fear of rejection, being rude, and being labeled selfish or uncaring.

Strategy 3:  Develop Your Negotiator’s No
Starting with no, or a pause, allows you the space to think, plan, and negotiate a win-win solution. Ask for more information, then reanalyze, or say “help me understand” to learn critical information through polite questions.

Zada-Student Attendees 2024
PharmD students Josephine Vonderhaar, Volta Adovor, Amaya Clausen, and Jacquelyn Peckosh 

Strategy 4:  Use the power of no wisely.
Fear of missing out is real and responsible for too many “yeses.” You have to say no to good opportunities to have the time and space to say yes to the great ones. What you say yes to should align with your goals, values, and passions.

Relationships and Recognition
Attendees connected with thought leaders in the pharmacy profession to build relationships with colleagues, leaders, and alumni. Additionally, complimentary headshots were captured, and a dozen leadership books or College of Pharmacy-branded treasures handed out as door prizes.

During the closing session, UI College of Pharmacy Dean Donald Letendre presented the 2024 Zada Cooper Student Leadership Award winners. The accolade honors student leaders who have contributed significantly, through their leadership, to the UI College of Pharmacy during their time as a student. Recipients are: 

Jilene Haas, ’24 PharmD
Sanika Jadhav, PhD Student
Mark Nagel, ’24 PharmD
Pornpoj (Jay) Phruttiwanichakun, PhD Student
Kelly Vu, PharmD Student

Zada-Letendre Speaking 2024
Dean Donald Letendre

The annual Zada Cooper Leadership Symposium honors pioneer Zada Mary Cooper. Cooper is the first-known female pharmacy faculty member in the country and is hailed as the “Grand and Glorious Lady of Pharmacy.” She graduated from the UI College of Pharmacy and continued as a faculty member, retiring in 1942. She was considered a master teacher, mentor, and innovator, advocating for women in pharmacy, patients, and strengthening standards in pharmacy education.

*©2024 Michele Williams. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission from the author.