The President’s Desk

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


“Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights the way.” ~ Unknown

Maria_Whitman.jpgI will admit now that in the earliest days of my career I actively avoided healthcare as a calling. I think with a healthcare consultant father, speech pathologist mother, hospital administrator uncle, nurse aunt, and on and on, it felt too much like the family business. Within 2 years of graduating university, however, healthcare drew me in – it’s complexity, amazing dichotomy of frustrating inefficiency coupled with genuine promise of innovation and progress, and most of all a common vision towards the noble goal of human health. My career has taken many twists and turns, from healthcare advertising to patient relationship marketing and programming, to brand management in biopharma, and ultimately to a 15-year career in healthcare management consulting. Ultimately, I found the passion that has cemented my professional purpose: enabling the development and commercialization of cancer therapeutics and now advanced technologies like cell and gene therapies. 

There are key inflection points across our lives and careers, and every alumnus I meet proactively asserts that being part of the WHCM program was one of those defining experiences in their journey. Our alumni continue to be among the most committed and passionate people I know in healthcare. Today we have a diverse group of 23 alumni across industry sectors and geographies focused on advancing the WHCMAA mission to: 

  • Support the Wharton Healthcare Management Program and its students
  • Contribute to the lifelong learning of its membership
  • Contribute to the healthcare sector through service, leadership, and education

I am grateful and excited to be taking the reins as WHCMAA President from John Barkett (WG’09). Thank you to him and all of our departing board members for their incredible service, passion, and ideas: Bob McDonald (WG’92, Secretary), David Kibbe (WG‘80, Treasurer), Z. Colette Edwards (WG’84, Managing Editor of the Wharton Healthcare Quarterly), and Kate Reed (WG‘87, Chair of Career Development Committee). 

This year we had an unprecedented number of talented and enthusiastic alumni nominated for the election to join the WHCMAA board. Congratulations to our re-elected board members, Laura Brady Saade (WG’93), Ed Chan (WG’11), Reed van Gorden (WG’12), and Amanda Wyatt (WG’17), and congratulations and welcome to our newly elected members: Marisa Bass (WG’14), Amy Fitzpatrick (WG’93), Visali Ramanathan (WG’15), Deepa Shah (WG’16) and John Winkelman (WG’80). 

As we kick off our 2019-2020 fiscal year, I am looking forward to refining our priorities with our new Executive Committee - Heather Aspras (WG’08, Vice President), Diana Peng (’14, Secretary) and Chris Simpkins (’02, Treasurer) - and the entire Board. Expect to see focus on: 

  • Advancing the communication among and connection across our global alumni base
  • Career development and knowledge sharing
  • Deepening alumni engagement with the WHCM students and the program

Speaking of continued learning and networking, mark your calendars for the annual WHCMAA Conference which will take place October 18, 2019 with a theme of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare. A timely and highly debated topic with the potential for advanced application across just about all sectors of the industry, our conference chair, Jeff Voigt, WG’85, has already gathered a very strong panel of speakers. I look forward to seeing you live in Philadelphia! 

Until then, if you have thoughts or suggestions at any time to share, please reach out. Enjoy this edition of the Wharton Healthcare Quarterly, and have a wonderful summer. 


Kind regards, 

Maria Whitman, WG’05
President, Wharton Health Care Management Alumni Association

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