The President’s Desk

Contributor: Maria Whitman, WG’05
To learn more about Maria, click here.


Dear Alumni and Friends,

By the time you read this edition of the Wharton Healthcare Quarterly, we will be in 2021. When I think about the recent past and the year ahead, there is much to reflect on. I leave 2020 and enter 2021 with a sustained sense of gratitude for the things that matter most in life, the large and the small, that this challenging time has forced many of us to recognize in different and meaningful ways.

One of those points of gratitude is for this community. We are privileged not only in the education and achievements we have, but in the ways we have supported each other. Just this week Chaz Howard, Penn’s first ever Vice President of Social Equity and Community, who has already taken many actions to advance social equity on campus, spoke to regional club leaders on diversity and inclusion based on his experience and mandate at Penn. In that talk he reflected on the importance of Alumni clubs like the WHCMAA, “being together is a gift we need, to sew ourselves back together from an unprecedented year that has affected us all so personally.”

I absolutely agree. Connecting with you, sharing a common empathy for the challenges in our own lives, and ever as importantly in the healthcare system, has been a motivating and meaningful light in a difficult time. It is amazing to hear the actions many of you are taking in your areas of specialty, building from this moment to move the needle in health for all people.

Although we could not be live for our annual conference in October, in my last letter I announced the Mini-Summit Series, which gives us an opportunity for prominent speakers on critical topics followed by networking time together.  The last two topics were wonderful starts to advancing awareness, learning, and discussion of today:

In my last letter I announced the Mini-Summit Series. Our first two topics were wonderful starts to advancing awareness, learning, and discussion of today:

  • Mini-Summit Series Episode 1: The Impact of Social Determinants of Health and Racial Disparities on the SARS-CoV-2 with Conrod Kelly. Conrod is a renowned author and an award-winning, leading voice in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially as it pertains to public and population health. He is the first Executive Director of Social Determinants and Population Health at Merck, and he spoke about many aspects of disparities in care – the challenges and the differences among populations and situations, the why and the gap, and ideas for how to move forward from today with a 40 min Q&A from alumni following.
  • Mini-Summit Series Episode 2: Post-Election: Now What? The impending disruption to the US healthcare system and what its creative rebirth might look like with the Honorable David J. Shulkin, MD. Secretary Shulkin is the ninth Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and in this inspirational and educational discussion he brought to life meaningful observations and learnings in his cross-administration service with the VA and how health can advance moving forward from his learnings across administrations and with initiatives tried for veterans. In particular, his emphasis on treating the whole person and in seeking bold vs. evolutionary change struck a cord for many.

If you missed these sessions, we have made the recordings available on our alumni site. The plan is to continue this series throughout 2021 about once a month. Please join us for the talk and the discussion and networking that follows. Also, if you have specific ideas or recommendations for topics or speakers you would like to hear, please email us at [email protected].

And as always, please continue to engage with the community:

  • LinkedIn: Wharton Health Care Management Alumni Association
  • LinkedIn Public Channel
  • Twitter: @WhartonHCMAA
  • Facebook: Wharton Health Care Management Alumni Association
  • Wharton Knowledge Network: [email protected]

If you are not receiving our emails with programming announcements, please let us know at [email protected]We recently sent an offer to all WHCM alumni from friend, classmate, WHCMAA member, and national best-selling author David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSc to receive a free signed copy of his inspiring memoir, Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope into Action. If you are a WHCM program alum and wish to take advantage of this special offer, please click here to access the registration form, which will let us know where to send your book.

My friends and colleagues, I hope that you are safe and well and the holidays and the ringing in of this New Year have given you and your families some time to recharge. My wish is for all of you to enter 2021 renewed in the unwavering passion towards advancing health that defines our community. I am thinking of you and sending you the best for the year ahead.


Kind regards, 

Maria Whitman, WG’05
President, Wharton Healthcare Management Alumni Association

Contact Maria at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @MariaWhitman