Leaning Into Leadership

Vamshi Kaveti, M.D.

When Vamshi Kaveti, M.D., joined ChristianaCare’s LeadershipDNA program last fall, he knew it was a way to learn and network with other leaders in the organization.

But Kaveti, associate medical director of ChristianaCare Hospitalist Partners, didn’t expect those connections to make a difference so quickly.

After meeting members of his LeadershipDNA cohort — including Lija Gireesh, DNP, MBA, FNP-BC, NEA-BC, COHN-S, manager of Caregiver Health Services, and Santosh Kadel, DCLS, CC(NRCC), MS, MLS, clinical architect of Laboratory Medicine — Kaveti sought help with reporting delays in COVID-19 test results that were affecting hospitalist staffing.

Lija Gireesh, DNP, MBA, FNP-BC, NEA-BC, COHN-S

Thanks to those connections, the test result reporting times were updated.

Kaveti shared his own connections, helping Kadel take part in multidisciplinary rounds and working with Eileen Evangelista, FNP, MSN, BSN, a nurse practitioner in Neurology, on pager-related issues that affected some of her staff.

“The impact is profound. Above all, I made friends for life through these sessions. I am grateful for ChristianaCare for giving me this opportunity to enhance my skills and improve my career going forward,” Kaveti, who learned about the program from Vinay Maheshwari, M.D., Hugh R. Sharp Jr., Chair of Medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine.

LeadershipDNA — a shared experience

Created as a professional development program, LeadershipDNA supports underrepresented populations of caregivers with the goal of fostering their career development.

Pooja Dogra, PharmD, BCAP, CDCES

A key aspect of the program sets it apart: each cohort focuses on caregivers with a shared experience, such as race or ethnicity. The most recent group of 15 caregivers, all who identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander, met weekly from September to December 2022.

Pooja Dogra, PharmD, BCAP, CDCES, clinical pharmacy supervisor for Ambulatory Pharmacy Services, said the group bonded immediately. Each week, they cheered each other on professionally while also learning more about ChristianaCare as an organization.

“I wanted to engage with other leaders that shared similar cultural backgrounds, challenges and experiences,” Dogra said.

“The program allowed me an opportunity to learn from others, network, leverage and combine resources, and improve my self-confidence by focusing on my strengths instead of weaknesses.”

Another unique component of LeadershipDNA is working with an external facilitator who identifies as the ethnicity of the group. For this cohort, that facilitator was Parul Agarwal. The facilitator creates the atmosphere over the 11-week program that allows genuine cohort bonding and self-discovery to occur.

Seated: Lija Gireesh, manager, Caregiver Health; Huaiying Gao, director, Content Development & Learning Technologies; Kunal Bhagat, chief, Hospital Medicine; Kimberly McDermott, manager, Practice Operations; Pooja Dogra, supervisor, Clinical Pharmacy; Prathibha Krishna Reddy, data team leader, Campus Operations; Tia Park, manager, Case Management; Natalie Torres, director, Inclusion & Diversity. Standing: Vamshi Kaveti, assistant medical director, Medical Director, Newark Campus lead, Hospitalist Partners; Wei Liu, lead data scientiest; Tom Hendrich, senior digital content editor, External Affairs; Mahamed Allimulla, IT manager, cloud infrastructure; Jeanana Lloyd, director, Talent Optimization & Planning; Santosh Kadel, chief architect, Laboratory Medicine; Parul Agarwal, facilitator; Kelly Bald, care coordinator, HomeHealth; Eileen Evangelista, lead nurse practitioner, Neurology; Shabnaum Singh, assistant privacy officer.

Charting a career roadmap

Since its inception in 2021, 45 caregivers have graduated from LeadershipDNA, said Beth Boone, senior talent optimization partner and a champion of the program. The connection continues even after the program ends, with cohorts regularly gathering in-person and virtually.

“We have found with our other two LeadershipDNA cohorts that communicating and meeting really build upon the relationships built throughout the program,” she said.

Gireesh said she was drawn to the leadership development opportunities, specifically acknowledging the unique challenges of racially diverse groups.

Tom Hendrich

“The program was not prescriptive, but as the name implies, this coached us to pivot and refocus on the innate leadership qualities embedded in our DNA and helped broaden our scope of what we can offer to the organization. This broadened my network, visibility and ability to connect differently with caregivers at all levels,” Gireesh said.

“The biggest learning that I had from this program is insight to my own self, which helped synthesize my career aspirations and create my own career roadmap.”

Programs like LeadershipDNA are one way to help the organizational culture be more inclusive and representative of the patients ChristianaCare serves. They are also part of the reason why for the second consecutive year, Forbes magazine named ChristianaCare in its list of Best Employers for Diversity. ChristianaCare ranked as the No. 2 employer for diversity and inclusion in the health care industry and the No. 40 employer in the nation overall.

“I feel very fortunate to have shared this experience with other talented caregivers and super human beings,” said Tom Hendrich, senior digital content editor in External Affairs and LeadershipDNA graduate.