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Meet Our People

Our Story

The WIA Leadership Program was Wendy Chapman's dream. As one of just a few female chairs in the field of Biomedical Informatics, she formed a dreaming team that dared to imagine a path towards greater inclusion. 


In March 2019, a group of seven pioneering female leaders spent two days in a hotel suite in San Francisco imagining a different future for aspiring women leaders. From their collective dreaming, they birthed the WIA Leadership Program, designed to unleash hidden and over-looked leadership potential and talent.

Just 8 months later, twenty-four scholars started their leadership development journey in Washington DC. Scholars described three specific benefits from participating in the program: increasing their leadership confidence, developing rich and enduring connections with other talented women and gaining competence in essential leadership skills.


Since the program began in November 2019, six scholars have accepted new promotions or stepping stone positions. Four scholars joined the steering committee for the WIA Leadership Program. Two MasterMind groups have continued to meet and support/challenge each other. One capstone project is transforming its institution.

If you are looking to gain clarity about what is next for your career, we hope you will help us write the next chapter of the story of the WIA Leadership Program!

Steering Committee
Steering Committee

Clare Coonan is an educator, leadership coach and organizational development consultant with over 30 years of experience helping teams and individuals experience and achieve their best selves. Born and raised in St. Louis MO, she moved to Salt Lake City leaving behind her adventures in teaching high school Biology and stepping into her next adventures in the wild outdoors. She learned how to write grants, supervise staff and volunteers, create marketing materials and manage a board of directors as the Executive Director of a non-profit agency serving people with disabilities. In 1997 Coonan completed her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Utah and worked for a large behavioral healthcare organization in Salt Lake City. She managed a day treatment program for adolescents with significant mental health diagnoses and a foster care program until 2005. She has been working in the organizational development field for the past 16 years. Coonan specializes in working with academic healthcare centers. She has developed and facilitated women’s leadership programs for Unilever and Salt Lake County Government and leadership and/or culture development programs for Texas Children’s Hospital, University of Utah, University of Arizona and Tulane University. Coonan is an avid outdoor adventurer, world traveler and a sporadic knitter.


Merida L. Johns, Ph.D., is an educator, author, consultant, and leadership coach who has over four decades of experience in healthcare information systems on national and international levels. She held tenured faculty positions at The Ohio State University and at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she was the founding director of the Master of Science in Health Informatics program. In 2010 Merida established The Monarch Center for Women’s Leadership Development to help women help themselves fulfill their leadership and economic potential. A prolific author in the domains of health information systems management and leadership, her most recent book, Leadership Development for Healthcare, provides a framework to guide the acquisition of characteristics and behaviors associated with effective leadership. Her article Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Structural, Cultural, and Organizational Barriers Preventing Women from Achieving Senior and Executive Positions, has been referenced by scholars in women’s leadership in a variety of peer-reviewed journals. Merida enjoys several creative pursuits, including writing novels that show how ordinary people tackle challenges, live though sorrow and betrayal, struggle with doubt, and act on their aspirations to achieve positive relationships and flourishing lives.


Dr. Wendy Chapman is the Associate Dean for Digital Health and Informatics and a Director of a new Centre for Digital Transformation of Health at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She served as Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City for 6 years and was previously at UCSD and the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on natural language processing of clinical notes. Dr. Chapman is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Medicine and serves on the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director. Dr. Chapman also served on the Board of Directors for AMIA and founded the Women in AMIA Committee. When she's not working, she enjoys skiing, bicycling, and cooking.

Dr. Alexa T. McCray is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Her research area is in knowledge representation and discovery, with a special focus on the significant problems that persist in the curation, dissemination, and exchange of scientific and clinical information in biomedicine and health. She is the former director of the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, an intramural research division of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. While at the NIH, she directed the design and development of a number of national information resources, including, Genetics Home Reference, and Profiles in Science. After she joined Harvard Medical School in 2005, she co-founded the Center for Biomedical Informatics, now the Department of Biomedical Informatics. Dr. McCray was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2001. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American College of Medical Informatics, and the International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics. She is chair of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Board on Research Data and Information.


Dr. Rebecca Jacobson is Vice President of Analytics at UPMC Enterprises in Pittsburgh, PA. She joined UPMC Enterprises in June, 2017 after a twenty-year career in academic biomedical informatics. At UPMC, Dr. Jacobson leads a team of engineers and data scientists developing NLP and machine learning applications, leading to commercial solutions. Over the past fifteen years, Dr. Jacobson’s work has focused on extracting meaningful information from electronic medical records to impact population health, precision medicine, and cancer research. She is an elected Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics (since 2010). Prior to this position, Dr. Jacobson was Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Chief Information Officer for the Institute for Precision Medicine, and Director of the Graduate Training Program in Biomedical Informatics at University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Ogunyemi is currently Director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBI) and Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. She is also an Associate Adjunct Professor of Radiological Sciences in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA with the Medical Imaging Informatics group. Research at the CBI focuses on novel biomedical informatics solutions for medically underserved communities. Dr. Ogunyemi’s research interests include computerized medical decision support, reasoning under uncertainty, 3D graphics and visualization, and machine learning. Her current NIH-funded research focuses on developing a variety of machine learning approaches for identifying patients with diabetic retinopathy from EHRs and digital retinal images. She is an editorial board member for the Journal of Biomedical Informatics, a member of the AHRQ's Health Information Technology Research study section, a member of AMIA’s Doctoral Dissertation Award Committee, and was recently elected a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics (2019).


Dr. Patel is a Senior Research Scientist and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies in Medicine and Public Health at the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM). Her research is related to cognitive mechanisms underlying human performance in health care and in medical decision-making; and focuses on addressing issues of cognition in biomedical informatics and building a closer tie between cognitive psychological principles and health information technology. In her past 30+ years career dedicated to academic research and education, Dr. Patel demonstrated her leadership by serving as the Director of the Laboratory of Cognition and Decision Making at Columbia University, an Interim Chair and Vice Chair of Department of BMI at Arizona State University, Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Informatics and Decision Making at the University of Texas at Houston, until present Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies in Medicine and Public Health at NYAM. Dr. Patel has received several distinguished awards and grants recognizing her significant scientific contributions from Sweden, Canada, and United States.

2019-20 Scholars

Jessica Ancker, Professor, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Melissa Briley, Epic Provider Champion-Ambulatory, University of Utah Health

Ji Won Chang, Data Scientist, University of Utah Health

Micky Daurelle, Senior Data Warehouse Architect. University of Utah Health

Janice Davis, Data Warehouse Analyst, University of Utah Health

Judith Dexheimer, Associate Professor, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Megan Douros, Data Warehouse Analyst, University of Utah Health

Adela Grando, Assistant Professor, Arizona State University

Tiffany Harman, Nurse Informaticist, 3M Health Information Systems

Andrea Hartzler, Associate Professor, University of Washington

Rachael Howe, Medical Informaticist, 3M Health Information Systems

Polina Kukhareva, Data Scientist, University of Utah Health

Kathryn Kuttler, Advanced Decision Support Director, Intermountain Healthcare

Younghee Lee, Assistant Professor, University of Utah

Gondy Leroy, Professor, University of Arizona

Danielle Mowery, Assistant Professor/Chief Research Information Officer, University of Pennsylvania

Magali Ochoa, Clinical Terminology Analyst, University of Utah Health

Mindy Ross, Assistant Professor, University of California, Los Angeles

Aarti Sathyanarayana, Research Fellow, Harvard Medical School & Boston Children's Hospital

Nabanita Sen, Data Warehouse Engineer, University of Utah Health

Carole Stipelman, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Provider Informaticist, University of Utah Health

Donghua Tao, Professor, Assistant Director for Information Services, Saint Louis University

Cui Tao, Professor, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Yuji Zhang, Associate Professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine

“The women in AMIA Leadership Program is absolutely essential for increasing the number of women who advance into leadership roles in Health and Information Technology.”



—  Omolola Ogunyemi, PhD

Director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Chair, Women in AMIA Subcommittee on Career Development

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Thank you to our generous 2019-20 champions who made the inaugural WIA Leadership program possible.

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