UMass Medical School honored its own trailblazing women at the annual Women’s History Month celebration on Tuesday, April 4.
Following a slide show enumerating the pioneering achievements of women in UMMS history from the 1970s to today, keynote speaker Marianne Felice, MD, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics & gynecology and chair emeritus of pediatrics, spoke about her own journey as a nun and high school science teacher who became the first woman chair at UMMS and the interim CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care. Her talk, “All leaders have halos and baggage: One woman’s story,” featured anecdotes, some funny, some outrageous, all vividly recalled with grace and humor the obstacles she faced and how things have changed for women in medicine and society at large during her career.
Her greatest challenge came when, as interim clinical system CEO facing an imminent strike, Dr. Felice agonized over her ultimate decision to “be soft” by granting the employees a raise, then awoke the next morning to see herself heralded as a hero by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for averting the strike.
“I don’t think of myself as a trailblazer here at all. I just came because I wanted to do good stuff for this community and thought maybe if I worked really, really hard with the people around me we could help people, especially the children of the commonwealth,” Felice said. “Thank you for calling me a trailblazer.”
The event was sponsored by the Diversity and Inclusion Office, and the Women’s Faculty and Professional Women Committees.