Mentors are a critical part of both professional and personal development. They help develop a leadership pipeline for communities and help people ideate what they will become. It is even more critical for women – particularly for those women who might not feel comfortable with self-advocacy. Having role models provides a safe space for women to openly discuss their ambitions. Whether the problem is with confidence or lack of necessary skills, mentors can work with women to overcome challenges.
We have heard from many women in the healthcare sector about the lack of representation in leadership roles. Thankfully, there has been a notable push for more diversity and gender balance in this field. Women bring new insight and so much more to our community, our businesses and healthcare. Having the opportunity to see other women achieve their goals makes it easier for the rest of us to see what is possible.
We are thrilled to be honoring Dr. Felina Cordova-Marks for our January 2021 #LeadHership spotlight. Dr. Cordova-Marks is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Arizona's (UA) Cancer Center, Director of Community Engagement for the U A College of Public Health CoVHORT: COVID-19 Research Study and is a Chairperson for the Hopi Education Endowment Fund Board. Helping to prepare the next generation, Dr. Cordova-Marks has established an emergency fund and scholarship for U A American Indian Students and acts as a mentor to UA undergraduate and graduate students.
Dr. Cordova-Marks recalls that it took her quite a while to find mentors in academia, medicine and in healthcare. She did find mentorship at U Arizona under Dr. Louise Canfield, Dr. Robin Harris, and Dr Teshia Solomon. Her mentors helped her understand that you can be smart and do everything with kindness. This advice has made an impact on how she interacts with the students she mentors.
Kindness is a fundamental piece of human nature and is certainly part of what makes Dr. Cordova-Marks so successful. During the pandemic she has organized mask drives for the Hopi Tribe and Gallup Indian Medical Center. In addition, she is providing groceries and supplies to those in need as Lead Organizer of the ongoing Southern AZ Urban Native and Indigenous COVID-19 Relief fundraising and outreach effort.
“Everything I do is done with a slant of how I can help my tribe and other indigenous people. Both in outreach and academic support.”
The pandemic has also had an effect on how she conducts her research. It has impacted how she recruits and interviews participants. She has broadened her approach to caregivers by looking at how this is affecting them and their mental health. Furthermore, she has had to re-think how she gets this research information to indigenous populations – one of many groups that has been disproportionately affected by both the health and economic impact of the pandemic.
In December, Dr. Cordova-Marks was awarded the 40 under 40 Woman of the Year award by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. And while she is still in shock, this is not her first award of this kind. In 2019 she received the National Native American 40 under 40 award, American Indian Center for Economic Development. She said that winning the award this year added a different dimension to being recognized. She feels some guilt over winning an award at a time when many people are suffering; however, she is grateful to those who put in the time and effort to nominate and select her.
While she does not let her accomplishments define her, it has forced her to be more selective with how she spends her time. She hopes these recognitions will bring awareness to the outreach programs and issues she dedicates her time to and are important to her and the community.
I asked her what advice she has for today’s emerging female leaders. She responded:
“Simply. Go for it. Go for that job, go for that raise. Go for any opportunity you want. Even if you don’t think you meet every criteria.”
Her accomplishments and heart for the community are why we are so proud to honor Dr. Felina Cordova-Marks for our January 2021 #LeadHership spotlight. Thank you for all you are doing for our community!