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More than 120 attend Women in Leadership seminar

The UTHealth Houston Women in Leadership Series held its first in-person seminar since 2019 on Thursday, Feb. 2 at the Beth Robertson Auditorium in the Fayez S. and Susan K. Sarofim Research Building.  

Due to inclement weather, scheduled speaker Julie Goonewardene was unable to travel and will join the Women in Leadership Series at a later date.

In Goonewardene’s place, a previously recorded Women in Leadership presentation by Vivian Pinn, MD, from 2017 was shown to the audience.

The only woman and African-American student from her 1967 graduating class at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Pinn served as associate director for research on women’s health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was the inaugural director of NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health.

Pinn previously taught at Harvard University, Tufts University, and Howard University College of Medicine. After retiring in 2011 from NIH, Pin continued working as senior scientist emerita at the Fogarty International Center.

Pinn spoke about overcoming her challenges as not only a female but also an African-American trying to make a career for herself in a field dominated by white men.

“Those were days when women were excluded – both overtly but sometimes with subtlety – from many specialties, especially surgical, and/or certain scientific disciplines or leadership positions,” Pinn said. “But, over the years, as more women entered health professional and scientific fields and led the chorus for change, with many male colleagues in support of the need for institutional and attitudinal changes, women are coming – or have come into their place of respect in biomedical careers.” 

Julianne Cenac, PhD, associate vice president of organizational and talent development and Valerie Christian Hainley, assistant director of leadership development programs, both addressed the in-person UTHealth Houston audience, as well as those watching virtually.

Now in its seventh year, the Women in Leadership Seminar Series is sponsored by the university administration through Human Resources Organizational and Talent Development in collaboration with the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development.

The series creates an environment for employees to learn about the experiences, challenges, and achievements of women in leadership. Open to all UTHealth Houston faculty, staff, and students of any gender, participants gain leadership insights and techniques while also connecting with colleagues from across the institution.

The next scheduled speaker series is set for Thursday, Feb. 23, at 11:30 a.m. via Zoom, featuring Taylor Harrell, PhD. 

For additional information, visit Questions can be directed to or 713-500-3169.

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