35th Anniversary Spotlight: Newly revived Public Health Executive Leadership Program welcomes second cohort

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In 2018, the USF College of Public Health (COPH) resurrected its Public Health Executive Leadership Program, which had been dormant for 10 years.

The program aims to bring rising leaders in the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) together to “collaborate and improve upon their own as well as their agency’s effectiveness,” said Dr. Marissa Levine, a COPH professor and co-director of the program along with Dr. Anthony Masys, an associate professor and director of global disaster management, humanitarian assistance and homeland security. “We revived the program not to teach public health skills, but to bring out leadership skills.”

Last year’s program brought 28 FDOH professionals—everyone from bureau chiefs to doctors and nurses to lab executives—to the USF Tampa campus several times over the course of nine months to attend workshops and presentations. In between the sessions, the group performed online work and discussions.

Anthony Masys, PhD, speaks at last year’s Public Health Executive Leadership Program. (Photo by Caitlin Keough)

“The students evaluated their own leadership skill growth at the beginning and end of the program,” explained Levine. “Based on this, we saw a significant increase in self-assessed leadership skills. In addition, each student completed a capstone project relevant to their work at their base of operations. Each project was impactful and some had the potential for state- or national-level effectiveness.”

As an added bonus, many students in the program who did not initially know each other created professional relationships. “That will not only help them personally, but it will also enhance the work and impact of the department,” noted Levine.

Marissa Levine, MD, MPH (far left) stands with the Public Health Executive Leadership Program’s 2019 cohort. (Photo by Caitlin Keough)

Hurricane season pushed back the start of this year’s program, but in November 30 FDOH workers came to campus to open the 2019 program and begin fine-tuning their leadership skills. 

“This is another dynamic group who we will meet again in person four more times between now and May. Next month we will be exploring leadership in a political context and will convene in Tallahassee where we will view committee meetings and learn about all levels of government budget and policy making,” said Levine.

The Center for Leadership in Public Health Practice, the COPH group that puts on the program, has an annual contract with the FDOH. According to Levine, the group is looking to expand its offerings to engage other public health professionals. “We’re disseminating information to our graduates and others interested in leadership so that we can create a robust resource for leaders working to collaboratively improve health and well-being,” said Levine

.Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health