Women in Leadership at Cedars-Sinai
Mar 15, 2021 Katie Rosenblum
It's no secret that women often have a harder time getting a seat at the leadership table. Although much progress has been made in recent years, leadership roles are still widely occupied by men.
Cedars-Sinai appointed its first female executive in 1906, when Dr. Sarah Vassen was hired as the superintendent of Kaspare Cohn Hospital, which later became Cedars-Sinai. Today, Cedars-Sinai is proud to employ women in a variety of leadership roles.
"Oftentimes in my career, I've looked around the room and I'm the only one—the only woman, the only woman of color, the youngest person at the table or the only parent. As I've gotten older, I've learned to lean into those things and own each of those dimensions because they make me who I am."
In Part 2 of our Women's History Month series, we're highlighting some of these trailblazers as we look at their accomplishments and learn more about the obstacles they've overcome to get to where they are.
Senior vice president and chief health equity officer
In a career spanning nearly 50 years, Dr. Linda Burnes Bolton has made countless impacts, but she has most notably helped shape healthcare policy, clinical practice and patient care nationally. Beloved by patients and staff alike, she has received numerous honors and awards for her work including being named a Living Legend by the National Academy of Science. She has been—and remains—a staunch advocate for health equity for all, and she has served on several national and international committees working to effect change in this area.
Dr. Burnes Bolton continues to be a leader in nursing, although retired from her previous role as chief nurse executive. In her latest role, she is working to address healthcare disparities among underserved Angelenos.
Vice president of Hospital Operations and chief nursing officer at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital
In her 10 years with Cedars-Sinai, Joanne Laguna-Kennedy has risen through the ranks in a variety of roles. She has a background in nursing and has worked to provide a high-quality experience for all patients. Today she leads the daily operations of Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital and has spearheaded the hospital's COVID-19 response.
"There was absolutely no road map on how to navigate this pandemic," she says. "We were building the plane as we were flying it. We rapidly set up many initiatives and put things in place to manage through challenges like surges, national PPE shortages, education for staff—and the list goes on."
Vice president and associate dean of research
Nicole Leonard is a veteran research administrator. In her role, she ensures that investigators have an environment that allows them to concentrate on innovation and exploration, with less time spent on bureaucratic work. One of her lasting impacts on her field will be her work in creating space for research administration professionals to grow their careers.
"Until very recently, there was no obvious path toward this profession, so it was often hard to recruit talent," she says. "To ensure that there would be a robust pipeline of talent, I helped develop a two-year tech transfer internship program and then a two-year research administration training program."
Senior vice president and chief operating officer, Cedars-Sinai Medical Network
Jill Martin has been with Cedars-Sinai for 24 years. She has been instrumental in growing the Cedars-Sinai Medical Network, a group of more than 800 physicians. In her current role, Jill oversees a number of functions including clinic operations, physician billing, network development and managed-care operations. She started her career in the male-dominated finance world and credits that with pushing her to succeed.
"My background is in finance, and for a very long time that meant I was the only female in the room," she says. "It made me very focused on the job at hand and the responsibility of getting the answer right."
Chief diversity and inclusion officer
Nicole Mitchell joined Cedars-Sinai in 2019 as the inaugural chief diversity and inclusion officer. In her role, she's focused on developing programs that will promote a culture of belonging for patients, visitors and staff. In her short time with the organization, Nicole has already effected big change. She and her team have helped create safe spaces where people can have conversations, ask questions and learn about diversity, equity and inclusion in many different ways. Throughout her career, she's tackled many hurdles including feelings of isolation.
"Oftentimes in my career, I've looked around the room and I'm the only one—the only woman, the only woman of color, the youngest person at the table or the only parent," she says. "As I've gotten older, I've learned to lean into those things and own each of those dimensions because they make me who I am."