The Ascension Leadership Academy – a professional and spiritual formation and development program that provides space for senior leaders to grow competencies that strengthen strategic capabilities, test new concepts and launch innovative initiatives – is featured on the cover of the most recent edition of Catholic Health World.
The Leadership Academy, part of the Ascension Leader Institute, “is designed for formative development, to look at the whole person, their formation and development to lead a ministry of Catholic healthcare and to do it in a way that is creative, and that they are capable of shaping the future,” Sr. Maureen McGuire, DC, Executive Vice President, Mission Integration, tells Catholic Health World.
A Community of Leaders
The program supports development of “a community of virtuous servant leaders” through active learning, she says.
Leadership Academy members are nominated and chosen to participate in integrated residential and field experiences led by distinguished thought leaders and experts from both inside and outside of healthcare. Each group, made up of 10 to 20 Ascension associates, meets three times a year for a week at a time in face-to-face sessions called “residentials” over two and a half years.
Participants take part in spiritual reflections, talk with business leaders across industries and collaborate on projects.
“As part of the academy’s active learning, participants break into smaller groups to identify an opportunity that would benefit Ascension, and they design and pilot a program to operationalize their ideas,” Catholic Health World says. A recent example was expanding telehealth or virtual care services.
These projects often explore ways to integrate rapid innovation to advance the services Ascension provides in the communities it serves.
“We have got to become more agile, engage our associates in a way that we haven’t, perhaps, done in the past,” Herb Vallier, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, tells Catholic Health World.
Rooted in Tradition
Another key goal of the Ascension Leadership Academy is to ensure participants have a solid grounding in the spiritual tradition of the Catholic health ministry. Spiritual and theological formation activities help each participant to be “a leader, be an innovator, be the courageous creator they need to be,” Sr. Maureen says.
“A community of leaders needs to able to be very transparent with one another. You do not have to know how to do everything. You have to know how to talk with one another about the things that perhaps for you, are a challenge,” she says.