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HOPA Hosts Women Leadership Summit

Participants in HOPA’s Women Leadership Summit (from left to right): Debbie Stockwell, Jane Pruemer, Scott Soefje, Rebecca Finley, David Henry, Rowena Schwartz, Sandra Swain, Michele Galioto, Nicky Dozier, Laura Michaud, Jill Kolesar, Marie Chisholm-Burns, Susan Goodin, Jaime Anderson, and George Carro

HOPA took an important step in the fall of 2017: the organization hosted a summit to explore leadership issues for women that have the potential to affect our membership and our profession. A 1-day meeting was held on September 14, 2017, before the HOPA Practice Management Program meeting in Chicago, IL, and included participants from across the fields of oncology and pharmacy. The meeting is a part of the strategic leadership initiative developed through the work of the HOPA Nominations and Leadership Development Committee (NLDC) in 2016. The Women Leadership Summit provided an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues in cancer care and pharmacy to develop a leadership strategy for HOPA. 

What was the goal of the HOPA Women Leadership Summit?

The goal of the Summit was to help HOPA set priorities for leadership development for our membership. Members of the NLDC have worked together on a strategic plan to facilitate the development and growth of leaders in the HOPA membership. We realized that leadership means different things to different people, and we wanted to be sure that we considered the needs of our broad membership. In addition, we were excited to learn from the experiences of others who have worked at setting a leadership strategy for their organizations—we wanted to learn from these experts. 

Who participated in the HOPA Women Leadership Summit?

HOPA is not the first pharmacy or oncology organization to tackle this issue. To capitalize on the work done by other organizations (e.g., the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the American Society of Clinical Oncology), we felt it was imperative to bring together individuals from these organizations to learn from their work. We asked participants to come to the Summit and share their successes and growth experiences. In addition, we invited HOPA members from a variety of practice and professional environments to ensure that the Summit represented our broad membership. Although limited by the number of attendees that we could reasonably invite, we invited individuals who could provide insights and differing views. We knew that from this diverse group of professionals we would hear wide-ranging views. Learning from others is important to help HOPA continue to move forward in developing leadership resources for all members, regardless of gender. It is important to note that issues for women in leadership were a focus, but HOPA took this opportunity to learn more broadly about leadership opportunities for the whole organization.

What was the agenda for the Summit?

The Summit planning committee used information provided by HOPA members to develop an agenda for this working meeting. In the summer of 2017, we asked HOPA members to tell us what they saw as issues related to women in leadership. Although we heard clearly that leadership is an issue that extends beyond women, we also learned that 60% of respondents had personally experienced or witnessed barriers to women in leadership development. Additionally, HOPA members were asked to rank topics that the NLDC felt were important to address at the Summit. We were happy to receive a number of additional topics from the membership to include in the Summit discussion. 

What was learned from the Summit? What steps are planned as a result of the Summit?

What the literature tells us: Marie Chisholm-Burns, PharmD MPH MBA FCCP FASHP FAST, opened the Summit with a keynote address reviewing the published data surrounding women in leadership in pharmacy. This thought-provoking presentation emphasized some key challenges faced by women in leadership positions and served as a foundation for group discussion. To learn more, see Dr. Chisholm-Burns’s article published in 2017 in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.1

Participants’ discussion: The NLDC’s written report to the HOPA Board of Directors stated that “the highlight of the Summit was the dynamic discussion of the participants.” The discussion that began following Dr. Chisholm-Burns’s address continued throughout the day. Roundtable discussions helped to capture ideas and develop priorities. The format of the day was guided open discussion, with the goal of identifying issues that are important to our membership. The group (pictured in the photo on p. 21) was interested in hearing about what our members shared in the membership survey, and these ideas and experiences helped the group to better define priorities. 

Priority setting: The objective of the meeting was to set HOPA’s priorities both for leadership development and for leadership development for women. These priorities (Table 1 - see PDF) have been shared with the HOPA board and the Leadership Development Subcommittee (2017–2018) for further action. The Leadership Development Subcommittee is now working to implement many of the priorities identified and is working closely with other HOPA committees to determine how best to move forward on those ideas. In addition to the priorities listed, it is imperative that we establish additional strategies to optimize the global availability of this effort to all HOPA members. 

A HOPA-sponsored publication: The lessons learned from this Summit are being compiled so that they can be shared in more detail with the HOPA membership. 

Thanks to all who provided their thoughts and ideas through the HOPA membership survey and discussions over the course of the last year. It is clear that HOPA has the opportunity to continue to help members in leadership development, and HOPA remains committed to that effort. 

We also thank the HOPA board for its support of the Summit. The NLDC appreciates the support of the committee’s board liaison, Scott Soefje, for helping make the idea of a Summit become a reality. 


Chisholm-Burns MA, Spivey, CA, Hagermann T, Josephson MA. Women in leadership and the bewildering glass ceiling. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2017;74(5):312-324.