January 25, 2022

Momentum in Medicine at UAB series: Kristi Gidley and Cindy Joiner, Ph.D.

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MMNTM ExecutiveLeadership Logo 1In 2021, the Heersink School of Medicine, HSF, and the UAB Health System, partnered to host a Momentum Executive Leadership pilot program on UAB’s campus called Momentum in Medicine at UAB.

Led by Jean Ann Larson, Ed.D., FACHE, senior associate dean of Leadership Development, the competitive, nine month program helps women leaders identify their grow in leadership traits and skill sets. Momentum connects women leaders across Alabama and offers networking opportunities and tools for ongoing development.

To celebrate, Heersink is featuring each of the women selected for this year’s program and hosting one-on-one interviews to learn their stories. In January, the Heersink communications team sat down with Cindy Joiner, Ph.D., and Kristi Gidley.

KGidley Head Shot 9.20resizeMeet Kristi Gidley

Kristi Gidley is the executive administrator for the Department of Otolaryngology.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a part of the UAB pilot of Momentum’s Executive Leadership Program?

Being selected for and participating in this program is an incredible honor. I am truly humbled to have been recognized and nominated for the inaugural class of this unique program. Learning and growing among such an amazing group of women, all from the same organization, is a remarkable experience.

Q: Momentum trains extraordinary women leaders. Who has been an extraordinary woman leader in your life?

My grandmothers immediately come to mind. They were both strong women who challenged the social norms of their generation. My paternal grandmother, in particular, demonstrated faith, strength and adaptability. She catered when her children were young. When she was an empty-nester, she took shorthand classes and went on to work for the American Red Cross for years. When tragedy struck our family, she immediately quit her job that very day to stand in the gap. She did so selflessly and without hesitation. She was 95 years old when she passed away and right up to the end she was serving others. She modeled strength with humility and purpose and I strive to do the same.

Q: What is the biggest takeaway from the program so far?

There have been many “aha moments” but one really stands out. We did an exercise where we look in a mirror and answer the question “What do you see?” And of course, the tendency is to see what is wrong or imperfect—grey hair, wrinkles, looking tired, etc. The challenge is to see what is right and focus on the positive. This is a helpful reminder for me as well as the people and teams I lead. There is purpose and power in celebrating the strengths of others. Excellence is a product of cultivating our strengths and yet we tend to fixate or obsess over our weaknesses. I am learning to lean into those strengths and to recognize and promote the strengths of others.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give women who want to become leaders in their field?

Be curious! My current position and role within UAB were not on a vision board. I am a Physician Assistant that just asked a lot of questions about how things work and are interconnected. Coming from a small solo-physician private practice, I was fascinated by the complexity of UAB Medicine and wanted to better understand how all the pieces fit together. This curiosity led to committee work and task forces, and ultimately the Executive Administrator position for the Department of Otolaryngology. A parallel piece of advice is to never stop learning. I recognized that my clinical training was very helpful but I did not have the traditional finance or business background that many of my peers have so I went back to school to obtain a Master of Science in Health Administration. Every day presents learning opportunities and that inquisitive spirit will open doors and opportunities you may not know exist.

RS14666 Cynthia Joiner 3resizeMeet Dr. Cindy Joiner

Cindy Joiner, Ph.D., is vice chair and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a part of the UAB pilot of Momentum’s Executive Leadership Program?

It’s an unbelievable honor. To be in the room with all of these female leaders and to be someone that UAB has invested in as a leader is humbling.

Q: How do you stay motivated to continue personal and professional growth?

So many things motivate me, our patients, my team, my family. At the heart of our work is patient care and being part of something that ultimately helps improve the health of people is inspiring. I want my team to strive for more in their professional lives and hopefully by me taking risks and opportunities it motivates them to do the same. I am so proud when someone from my team grows into a leader and takes on new opportunities. Hopefully I had a little something to do with their success. I would also love to see more women leaders supporting and growing leaders who are also champions for women in leadership roles. Personally, my kids and husband motivate me. I have two sons, I want them to grow up with an appreciation, respect, and understanding of the value that women leaders have in our world.

Q: Momentum trains extraordinary women leaders. Who has been an extraordinary woman leader in your life?

I have been very lucky to have some fantastic leaders, female and male, help guide me in my life. The most extraordinary female in my life is hands down my mom. She was an executive in bank marketing and usually the only woman at the board meetings. She was, and still is, tough as nails, direct, and does not back down. She showed me that women could have a profession and be a fantastic mom. She always encouraged me to take risks and not be afraid to do something different. My dad was the other leader in my life, not a woman I know, but he always said what he loved most about my mom was her strength. He encouraged me to be myself, not be discouraged when something didn’t go my way, to get back up and pick another door/path to obtain my goal. My parents set out to raise a strong, independent daughter, I would like to think they accomplished that goal.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give women who want to become leaders in their field?

Don’t sit back and wait for something to happen, the sidelines are no fun, you can’t be afraid to take a chance. If you really want something you need to speak up, be clear about what you want, share your vision, ask how you can make it happen, and listen. You are not always going to get what you want, but you don’t want to regret never taking the chance.