Ep 9: Mentorship Spotlight


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Michelle McMurry-Heath, M.D., Ph.D.​

Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath assumed the leadership of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) on June 1, 2020. A medical doctor and molecular immunologist by training, Dr. McMurry-Heath becomes just the third leader of the world’s largest biotechnology advocacy group since BIO’s founding in 1993. Based in Washington D.C., BIO represents 1,000 life sciences companies and organizations from 30 countries.
McMurry-Heath has worked across academia, nonprofits, government, and industry, but her common focus has been broadening access to scientific progress so more patients from diverse backgrounds can benefit from cutting-edge innovation. Driven by her own past family experiences navigating clinical trials and funding challenges within the rare disease community, Dr. McMurry-Heath calls “the distribution of scientific progress the social justice issue of our age.”

Carolyn Witte
CEO and Co-Founder, Tia

Carolyn Witte is the CEO and Co-founder of Tia — the next-gen women’s healthcare platform building the relationship-based care model of the future, online & offline. As a design-thinker and storyteller, she’s applied the brand-building and user-centric design playbook from her time at Google’s Creative Lab to make women’s care more personalized, preventive, data-driven, and soulful. A big believer in interdisciplinary teams, Carolyn has orchestrated a symphony of top tier women’s health providers, software engineers, designers and data enthusiasts to build a new model of women’s care that can sustain the pressures of the modern healthcare system for patients and providers alike.



Nancy-Ann DeParle

Nancy-Ann DeParle is a managing partner and co-founder of Consonance Capital Partners, a private equity firm that focuses on investing in the U.S. health care industry. She is a director of CVS Health and HCA Healthcare, in addition to Consonance portfolio companies Psychiatric Medical Care (PMC) and Sellers Dorsey. From 2011-January 2013, she was Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy in the Obama White House. A health policy expert, DeParle served as Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform from 2009-2011. In that role, she spearheaded President Obama’s successful effort to enact the Affordable Care Act and managed the initial implementation of the law.

After leaving the White House in 2013, DeParle was a Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School and a Visiting Scholar in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. From 2006-2009, DeParle was a Managing Director of CCMP Capital Advisors, a private equity firm formed by the former buyout professionals of JPMorgan Partners, LLC. She was also a Senior Fellow of Health Systems at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a trustee or director of several corporate and non-profit boards, including Boston Scientific, Cerner, Health Affairs, Medco Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. From 2002-2008, she was a commissioner of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), which advises Congress on Medicare policy matters.

From 1997-2000, DeParle served as Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). As Administrator, she directed Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance (SCHIP), which provide health insurance for more than 105 million Americans at an annual cost of $870 billion. Before joining HHS, DeParle served as Associate Director for Health and Personnel at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Earlier in her career, DeParle was Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services, administering a 6,000-employee cabinet agency. She also worked as a lawyer in private practice in Nashville and Washington, D.C. She has appeared on many news programs and speaks frequently at health and financial industry conferences. In 1994, Time selected DeParle as one of “America’s 50 Most Promising Leaders Age 40 and Under.”

DeParle received a B.A. with highest honors from the University of Tennessee, where she was Student Body President, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She also received a B.A. and M.A. in Politics and Economics from Balliol College of Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.

DeParle lives in Chevy Chase, MD, with her husband, Jason DeParle, a reporter for the New York Times, and their two teenaged sons.

Julie Gerberding, M.D.

Julie L. Gerberding, M.D. is Chief Patient Officer and Executive Vice President at Merck, where she is responsible for a broad portfolio focused on patient engagement, strategic communications, global public policy, population health, and corporate responsibility. She joined the company in 2010 as president of Merck Vaccines.

Previously, Julie was director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where she led the agency through 40+ emergency responses to public health crises. She has received more than 50 awards and honors, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) distinguished service award for her leadership in responses to anthrax bioterrorism and the September 11, 2001 attacks. She was named to the TIME 100 list of most influential people in 2004 and the Healthcare Businesswomen Association’s Woman of the Year in 2018.



Halle Tecco

Halle Tecco is the Founder & CEO of Natalist. Previously she was the founder of early-stage digital health venture fund Rock Health, and an Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School. Halle started her career working in finance and business development roles at Intel and Apple. She is currently an advisor to the Harvard Medical School Department of Biomedical Informatics and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Halle has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC. She was named as one of Goldman Sachs’s Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs and listed on the Forbes 30 under 30. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School and is currently pursuing her MPH from Johns Hopkins.

Find a network of people that you both admire and enjoy. Find something that connects yourself to something larger than yourself, something that's broadly meaningful to you. - Rachel King Co-Founder and CEO, GlycoMimetics, Inc.



Lan Nguyen  0:03  

Behind every effective leader is a network of great mentors and advisors. Building enduring and meaningful relationships with mentors is a common thread across our conversations at the intersection of women, leadership and healthcare. 


In this special edition of Her Story, we’ve asked a few of our guests from this season to share their take on the significance of mentorship in their own career trajectories. So let’s jump right in. 


First up is Nancy Ann DeParle, popularly known as one of the brightest political minds. Nancy Ann is the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Consonance Capital Partners, and former assistant to President Barack Obama. 


Nancy Ann DeParle  0:42  

You might be surprised at the people who become your mentors, as I was when Donna Shalala called and said, “Come over, I want to talk to you about your career.” I didn’t even think she liked me, much less that she would help me achieve one of my career dreams, to run HCFA. I had someone like that in the law firm that I worked with. He wasn’t even someone I worked with closely, but who took the time to mentor me. I would just urge any young woman listening to this to really look for who can be a mentor–who can really be a sponsor for you, because those people are really just priceless.


Lan Nguyen  1:15  

Dr. Julie Gerberding EVP and Chief Patient Officer of Merck, reflects on the early days of her academic career, which ultimately set her on a path to becoming the first female director of the Centers for Disease Control. 


Dr. Julie Gerberding  1:29  

There was a point in my academic career when you had to go in for kind of your midpoint evaluation to see if you were on track for tenure. And the person who was responsible for that review for me was someone who came from a very traditional academic background–very lab-based. And at the time, although I was on track–I had lots of publications, great grant funding, lots of fellows, and was really excited about the direction my career was taking–he really thought that successful people at the university needed to be in the lab. And so although I had spent time in the lab, that wasn’t my priority. And he suggested I find a new mentor, get back to the lab, buckle down, and restart my career. I was horrified and cried in his office, which was even more horrifying. And then I got mad. And then I got very busy. And I just set about the prospect of making sure that my academic credentials were impeccable. And ultimately, I did get tenure, but it was really a wake-up call that you know that emotion had to be channeled into something good because otherwise I was really going to fall apart.


Lan Nguyen  2:41  

Recognized as one of Forbes 30 Under 30, Carolyn Witte is building the modern medical home for women’s health as Co-Founder and CEO of Tia.


Carolyn Witte  2:50  

When you hit rock bottom, when you feel like you just feel stuck–the trough of sorrow, I think they call it, that founders experience, whatever it is–you hit it, you lose that deal, you get, you know, your hundredth rejection from an investor. Whatever it is, if you’re obsessed enough with the problem, I think you find a way to iterate out of it and continue to build something that matters to your customer and to uphold the vision that you want to create. Every challenge that I’ve quickly faced on a very long and treacherous journey that is becoming, you know, a healthcare founder building a company–having that emotional safety net, and a family that I think was comfortable with failure and making big bets was, I think, something that made me willing to try. The emotional roller coaster, I think this is the hardest part of it. Personally, I think there’s a balance of it that can be motivating, but you also need to manage that with this support.


Lan Nguyen  3:46  

And wrapping us up is Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, with her broad lens of academia, government and industry.


Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath  3:59  

We think about mentorship in such a transactional way sometimes. And I think it’s really a lot about finding people who remind you of yourself or who you aspire to be in some sort of way. And then, not just approaching them for the 30-minute coffee where you ask them about their lives, but really finding out how you can volunteer to help them on something because you will not get paid to do the job you want to do today. You have to earn the skill set to really be valuable enough to take that on, and often the way to earn that experience is to volunteer for it and learn from them as much as you can.


Lan Nguyen  4:38  

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