Blog Post

Sneak Preview: 2015 is a New-Model Year for the Fellows

Today’s blog post was written by Yolanda Caldera-Durant, senior program officer at the Connecticut Health Foundation, and director of the Health Leadership Fellows Program.

One week from today, the Connecticut Health Foundation’s (CT Health) Health Leadership Fellows Program (HLFP) enters its tenth year.

The tenth year of the HLFP is going to be a little different. Think of how car manufacturers tweak one model’s design over the years. They don’t do it for the sake of doing it, but for the sake of improvement, year over year.

So like a car, it’s still the signature leadership program you know and love…we’ve just made it a little better. Some of these changes were underway before I knew I’d be taking the helm of the HLFP so I can’t take all the credit.

Aside from the class now meeting on Friday mornings, here are the three themes of change for the program.

From Coalition to Case Discussion

Before: The program has always had two core components: passive and active learning. The multi-disciplinary coalition work was a place where small groups of class participants could practice their leadership skills and work together to create systems change.

The New Model: The program is still committed to including an active learning component. But instead, the practice will take place via a facilitated, structured case discussion.

A class participant will present a health equity leadership challenge – somewhere they feel “stuck” – to a small group of other participants.

And the goal is not, I must emphasize, to problem-solve! The goal is for the presenter to un-stick themselves as group members provide different perspectives of the case to bring greater clarity to the presenter and the group as a whole.

Why the change? The HLFP has always been a space for learning. Not just for the Fellows, but for us too. We’ve solicited feedback from select Fellows and found that we weren’t quite hitting the mark with what we wanted to achieve in the coalition projects. Fellows were, we found, good at directing their own learning. But the cultivation of a strong culture of support and learning needed to be developed further.

With the more structured format, we believe class participants will have the opportunity to be more successful.

Senior Fellowship

Before: In the past CT Health has invited two Fellows from previous classes to join the newer classes as Senior Fellows. Their role has been to observe the participants from “the balcony” to understand the dynamics occurring during the 10-month incubation period to help further health equity leadership learning.

The New Model: Senior Fellows will come down from the balcony and take a much more hands-on role with the 2015 class participants. In fact, they will lead the small groups in the case discussions.

And here’s where my leadership edge is. I like plans. I like being organized and I like knowing the exact steps of what will happen in a meeting.

With this, I feel more like I’m building the car as I’m driving it. My leadership challenge is trusting the process to get all of us there.

So, I’m grateful that I will have seven Senior Fellows (in addition to lead facilitator Heidi Brooks) building the car alongside me. They are:

  • Linda Barry
  • Yvette Bello
  • Darcey Cobbs-Lomax
  • Brenda DelGado
  • Lateef Habib
  • Brad Plebani
  • Rebecca Santiago

Why the change: We knew we could do a better job of tapping the leadership and talents of our Senior Fellows. The 2015 class is in great hands. And, the Senior Fellows are in great hands too, in that this is the next stage of leadership learning for them. Yes, the class of 2015 is in the driver’s seat too. We’re all learning from each other.

Ten Year Evaluation

As an organization dedicated to continuous learning and quality improvement, CT Health will embark on an evaluation of the HLFP with the Innovation Network. This organization has worked with CT Health for the past few years to evaluate previous HLFP classes. With the ten year evaluation CT Health will engage with our Fellows Network to better understand the long-term impact of the program and how we can improve the program in the future for health equity leaders.

Are you ready for a ride in the new car, class of 2015?


Mahusive Discombobulated Shizzle” by Tom is licensed under CC BY 2.0 *image altered to include CT license plate.