I help curious, motivated, and mission-driven professionals to achieve their highest potential by identifying personal and organizational goals and then providing them with the roadmap and guidance to get there. I can help you shine a light on the tasks that are eating up valuable time and help you focus on what matters.
I grew up a middle-class, suburban kid in the southeast U.S. going on family vacations to Florida, but I always knew that big adventure and travel were in my future. And making things work – I have always loved to make things work! For as long as I remember, I have visualized problems and their solutions in spreadsheets and flow charts; it was tough to be such a nerdy kid but, it’s a great skill to have as an adult! Moving homes and changing schools 9 times before I finished high school, I was a young pro at adjusting to change and quickly assessing relationships, organizations and systems.
I couldn’t wait for my adventure to start, so I passed on going directly to college to join the military instead. I spent four years as an Army photojournalist in Europe, Southwest Asia, and the California high desert. Supported by Uncle Sam, I photographed U.S. military troops at WW2 memorial services in France; interviewed competitive 100-mile marchers in Nijmegen, Holland; visited and wrote about air defense troops stationed in the Middle East; and trained soldiers in Mojave Desert war simulations how to interact with the media. Taking every college class I could and writing in military newspapers about Army life, I knew when I got out of the military that I wanted to learn more about what makes people tick.
I went to graduate school in Washington DC and soaked up clinical psychology training like a sponge. Once again, I wanted to do everything: I took classes, taught classes, conducted psychological testing, trained as a therapist, and conducted research projects. I also learned how to downhill ski during some spring break trips to West Virginia. After three intense years of graduate school, I moved to Oregon for some additional adventure (including the fun of a long-distance dissertation!). By the time I finished my PhD a few years later, I saw opportunities to improve the organization and delivery of behavioral health services. In looking for how to “intervene upstream,” I found public health, and I was hooked.
I did post-graduate study in Health Services Research, which learning how to deliver high quality health care efficiently and effectively … and what to do when things don’t go as planned. I loved working in complex endeavors, such as integrating mental health services into primary care, and coordinating between emergency rooms and drug treatment centers so people who need help can get it fast. These systems have lots of moving parts, too: quality guidelines, staff personalities, training opportunities, management and leadership strategies, financial regulations, reporting requirements … the list is endlessly complex, and utterly fascinating to me to get all of these pieces to work together well. I accepted a faculty position in Oregon and dug into behavioral health service delivery systems. I also
traded the ski slopes for the sea: I learned to surf on the cold Oregon coast. I bought an old Sears kit house (built in 1910), and divided my time between working, remodeling, running, and surfing.
Managing, Leading, and Public Speaking
When I moved back to the east coast for new opportunities to address health care issues, I started focusing on two main aspects of service delivery: (1) How do the people experiencing health care treatment (the customers or consumers) make sense of it? And (2) how do managers and leaders make change happen? As I moved into more senior leadership positions, these perspectives of appreciating the insights of your customers and leading a team through change were very helpful. Around this time, I also started teaching many more workshops and seminars globally. I taught seminars about leadership, advancement, and job transitions with the Association of American Medical Colleges in their Early Career and Mid Career Women Faculty Leadership programs. I traveled to Kenya and South Africa for the Africa Population Health Research Center to consult on their work to implement policies to reduce chronic disease and improve maternal health. I studied cross-cultural psychology and Spanish in Guatemala. I worked in Peru and Brazil on how to create and lead effective research administration systems (I also worked on my surfing in Peru and Brazil). I remodeled an old Victorian house in Washington DC (built in 1890). I kept traveling, learning, and teaching.
After nearly 20 years in academia and having worked all over the world, I’m now leading Wisdom Consulting to help leaders and teams get things done. I know even really smart people can’t always see far enough ahead, and I can help light the way. I have worked with complex health care, government, and educational organizations including the following:
- U.S. Veterans Health Administration (Minneapolis and Palo Alto)
- Africa Population Health Research Center (Nairobi, Kenya)
- University of Michigan
- Columbia University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Harvard University/Brigham Women’s Hospital
- Instituto Nacional de Salud (Lima Peru)
- Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou (Belo Horizonte Brazil)
- Instituto Nacional do Câncer (Rio de Janeiro Brazil)
- Association of American Medical Colleges (Washington DC)
- CODA Inc. Substance Abuse Treatment Center (Portland OR)
- University of South Florida College of Public Health (Tampa FL)
- George Washington University (Washington DC)
I am a member of the American Public Health Association, Mixed Methods International Research Association, American Psychological Association, and the Society for Psychologists in Management, and I have been on the faculty at Columbia University in New York, Oregon Health & Science University, George Washington University in Washington DC, and the City University of New York. I am active in Toastmasters International and the National Speakers Association. I am currently an Affiliated Investigator at the Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health at the City University of New York.
My professional experience and travels have taken me to 36 countries and 48 states (all but Nebraska and Alaska). Along the adventure, I:
- Rappelled off a cliff in Germany
- Earned a German marksmanship award (silver)
- Threw a live hand grenade
- Surfed on four continents
- Floated in a hot air balloon
- Danced salsa in Havana, Cuba
- Hiked up a volcano in Iceland
- Driven coast-to-coast across the U.S. three times
- Skied, snowboarded, snowshoed and snowmobiled
- Went skydiving once (once was enough)
- Flew around the world
- Did yoga overlooking rice terraces in Bali
- Played with a lion cub in South Africa
- Ran two marathons and four triathlons
- Was pecked by a penguin in Antarctica
Adventures on my wish list (let me know if you have ideas!)
- Cherry blossoms in Japan
- Speaking engagements in Nebraska and Alaska to visit my 49th and 50th states
- River cruise down the Amazon
- Kayak in the Chilean Lakes District
- Hike in New Zealand
- Prague in the spring
- Ride a camel in Morocco
Dr. Wisdom has worked in complex health care, government, and educational environments for 25 years, including the serving in the U.S. military, non-profit service delivery programs, and higher education. She has a PhD in Clinical Psychology (2001) from The George Washington University in Washington, DC, and a Master’s of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics (2003) from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon. She is an intrepid adventurer and licensed clinical psychologist based in New York City and Portland, Oregon.
Dr. Wisdom’s CV is here.