FOCUS Leadership Transition

April 5, 2021

To:Faculty, Students, and Staff

From:J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, EVP/Dean
Lisa M. Bellini, MD, Senior Vice Dean for Academic Affairs

We write to announce that after two decades of exceptional and impactful leadership as Executive Director of FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women, Stephanie B. Abbuhl, MD, will step down from this role at the end of this academic year. This transition will begin a new chapter in her distinguished career at the Perelman School of Medicine, as she assumes emeritus status.

Dr. Abbuhl, who joined the Penn faculty in 1985, is a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and held several leadership positions in the department over the years, including Vice Chair from 2004 until 2020. She is also Co-Director of the PATHWAYS Program for Penn STEM Faculty. Her contributions to elevating the status of women and creating gender equity in PSOM and across the University cannot be overstated.

As Executive Director since 2001, Dr. Abbuhl has tirelessly championed FOCUS’s dual mission of supporting the advancement and leadership of women in academic medicine and promoting education and research in women’s health and careers. She has been involved in many key gender equity initiatives within the School of Medicine, across the University, and nationally, most recently leading career leadership workshops to support women faculty as they navigate the challenges of the Covid pandemic.

Dr. Abbuhl’s experience with numerous innovative FOCUS initiatives led to a unique RO1 funded NIH-TAC (Transforming Academic Culture) interventional trial with broad impact. The study, conducted 2009 - 2016, generated 6 publications and led to the creation of the Penn Faculty PATHWAYS Program to enhance the personal and professional development of faculty members in the first phase of their careers.

Under Dr. Abbuhl’s leadership, FOCUS has played an important role in advancing leadership training and career mentoring for women faculty and in advocating for policies to achieve gender equity, including maternity and child-care leave and PSOM’s lactation program. FOCUS has also worked to promote a more inclusive environment through data collection and monitoring, as well as through scholarship and participation in national programs.

In keeping with its impact, the FOCUS program received the AAMC’s Women in Medicine Leadership Development Award in 2004. Dr. Abbuhl’s honors include the 2012 AAMC Group on Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Development Award, a national honor recognizing her research and programmatic work. At Penn, she received the 2013 Trustee’s Council of Penn Women-Provost Award for her leadership in advancing women at the University.  She is also the recipient of the 2015 PSOM Arthur Asbury Outstanding Mentoring Award. As she transitions from her current role, Dr. Abbuhl has expressed interest in continuing to mentor and play an active role in career leadership programs.

A Search Committee is being organized to identify Dr. Abbuhl’s successor as FOCUS Executive Director, whom we hope to have in place this summer. We are grateful to Dr. Abbuhl for her decades of service as FOCUS Executive Director and its positive impact on gender equity in PSOM and across the University. Please join us in wishing her the very best in the next phase of her exemplary career.