Women’s History Month: the UPHS tradition of Female Leadership

By Corrinne Fahl

To celebrate International Women’s Day which was on March 8 and Women’s History Month, the Office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity celebrates the appointment of Alicia Gresham, MBA, MS as CEO of Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital established in 1752.  This is indeed a historic moment, given the important milestone that the founding of Pennsylvania Hospital represents for the nation and now its new leaders taking over its helm.   Ms. Gresham joined UPHS in January of this year, having previously been Senior Vice President and COO of Network Operations at Mount Sinai Health System. Ms. Gresham is returning to Penn Medicine, where she was previously Director of Access and Operations for the Scheie Eye Institute.

Ms. Gresham joins the ranks of women leaders at UPHS which includes our previous OIDE guest speaker, Delores Brisbon. In 1975 Ms. Brisbon, a Penn Medicine nurse, was appointed as Director of Planning and Systems for University of Pennsylvania Hospital  where she led the construction of the $46 million Silverstein Pavilion and the $116 million Founders Pavilion. In 1980, Brisbon was appointed chief operating officer, managing a budget of over $300 million where she guided a multi-million-dollar construction project. Ms. Brisbon was also responsible for negotiations with the University of Pennsylvania that resulted in the relocation and construction of the Walnut Child Care Center.  When Dr. Brisbon, who has now received national recognition and honorary degrees celebrating her continued work in advancing health equity, was appointed, she was the first woman of color in hold such a position in the United States. 

Indeed within our midst, we have history makers past and current.  These women are extraordinary role models for current and future health professionals nationwide.