“Liz” Madigan, who recently assumed the role of Sigma’s chief executive officer, introduces herself to the organization’s 135,000-plus members located in 90-plus countries.
By now, you’ve probably seen the announcement of my appointment as the fourth CEO of Sigma. That announcement provides a 35,000-foot view of me, so I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know more. Initially, I organized this introduction chronologically and then decided, because I have been a nurse for so long, I would exceed the word limit. Instead, I will introduce myself from the perspectives of Sigma’s three pillars: leadership, scholarship, and service.
My first official leadership position began at age 30 when I was director of home care services for a community hospital in Columbus, Ohio, USA. I was promoted into nursing administration (as we called it at the time), and suddenly, in addition to heading up the home care division, I had responsibility for six medical-surgical units, two ICUs, and various specialty teams. This was before there were many leadership training programs, so, as with most nurses, my leadership skills developed on the job. I emulated leaders around me whom I admired, as I still do. I learned what made them successful and what they did to overcome obstacles that interfered with their abilities to be effective.
But I also learned the importance of authenticity—what worked for them may not work for me. And that’s OK! I have been described as a WYSIWYG—what you see is what you get—which I regard as high praise for my effort to be authentic. I would be remiss not to mention how I have been blessed with many wise mentors over the course of my career—if I name names, I will forget someone—so when I’m asked to mentor, I try to give back.
I spent 21 years as a faculty member at Case Western Reserve University’s (CWRU) Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio. I began as a pre-tenure assistant professor and concluded my time there as a tenured full professor and endowed chair. In my PhD program at CWRU, I learned scholarship, and I applied what I learned by producing scholarly works and assisting others in acquiring the scholarship skills they needed to move through the ranks.
I am immensely proud of those I have mentored—former students and junior colleagues—and they are everywhere within Sigma! I also developed an outcomes research program in home health care (my clinical specialty) and made substantive contributions to the scientific body of evidence. The scientific process appealed to my curious, problem-solving nature. The best part of any study was always the “Hmmm, what’s going on there to lead to this result?” I was a grant reviewer for Sigma and other groups, including the U.S. government and the Italian Ministry of Health. I’ve published widely in peer-reviewed journals and have edited a book. As a result, I value high-quality scholarship that informs nursing practice.
For Sigma, service is defined in many ways. My contributions have been in the global health arena, where I have been fortunate to work with colleagues from many places. Most recently, as part of my involvement with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Research and Clinical Training in Home Care Nursing at CWRU, I provided home health consultation in Suriname. I also had a project in the Caribbean to promote healthy aging that was interprofessional for both leaders and participants. In addition to the important and rewarding outcomes we achieved, I greatly value the professional and personal relationships I was able to make with colleagues in many places. When my appointment as CEO was announced, many of those friends extended not only congratulations but also offers of help. I intend to take them up on those offers. It’s by working with others that we make the most progress.
I am humbled by the opportunity to lead this organization—95 years old and more than 135,000 members strong. We have much work to do and many things to celebrate. Stay tuned!
Elizabeth “Liz” Madigan, PhD, RN, FAAN