issue Winter 2023

Leadership Message

By Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM
Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM, President and CEO
Photo by Michael R. Schmidt

This issue of Helix is a reminder of how our students, faculty, alumni and valued partners are shaping a future where everyone has equitable access to high-quality health care, where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full health potential.

We’re educating a diverse body of students whose commitment to education, research and service — and whose resilience and determination in uncertain times — is a source of deep pride and inspiration.

It’s especially gratifying to see so many women in these pages who are building trust through compassionate practice, building knowledge through scholarship and research, and building a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM.

Paula Johnson, MD, MPH, who recently visited our university as the keynote speaker for our 7th Annual Women in Science and Healthcare (WiSH) Symposium, shared an indelible observation: “Who you are influences what you see.” That understanding drives RFU to work toward diversity, equity and inclusion — to educate and mentor more women and people from underrepresented groups into leadership positions in STEM, who will champion equitable policies that advance health and well-being across generations.

We are committed to taking concrete actions in collaboration with our communities to improve health equity, in line with the National Academy of Medicine’s call for an explicit focus in addressing the social determinants of health. We’re also striving to pay closer attention to racial, socioeconomic and gender equity as a means to building a more just world.

Philanthropic partnership is key to building health equity and all our initiatives depend on it. Our generous partners are helping us build a more diverse and inclusive healthcare workforce — health professionals who will truly see and heal the inequities that burden our communities.

Finally, I want to recognize the late Dr. Lucille Heller, a contemporary of our namesake Dr. Rosalind Franklin. Dr. Heller was brought to our attention when her son discovered RFU online, and she shared her memories with us last summer before her passing in late December. Dr. Heller, who assisted Dr. Franklin during the early months of her DNA research at King’s College London 72 years ago, was a Hidden Figure in her own right. A scientist, mathematician and academic leader who helped pave the way for women in STEM, Dr. Heller, like Dr. Franklin, reminds us that the provable truth of science is a force for good across time and history, even when it goes unnoticed.

Wishing you the best of health.