Morehouse School of Medicine’s “Danforth Dialogues” Features CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky


Courtesy of Morehouse School of Medicine

Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) today published the latest edition of its “Danforth Dialogues” podcast, featuring a conversation between MSM’s President and CEO Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Dr. Montgomery Rice and Dr. Walensky had a wide-ranging conversation touching on COVID-19, leadership in the midst of a crisis and health equity. “We are so pleased to have Dr. Walensky join us for our final Danforth Dialogues of 2022,” said Dr. Montgomery Rice. “There is perhaps no other person in the country who has more insight into the battle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and where we stand as we enter the third year of the pandemic.”

A graduate of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Walensky rose to prominence as one of the country’s leading experts in HIV/AIDS, taking over the CDC during the pandemic. She talked to Dr. Montgomery Rice about her leadership style and how it has helped her during this historic public healthcare challenge.

“One of the things that people fail to realize is that leadership is a selfless act,” Dr. Walensky said. “What you are doing as a leader is giving back to everyone. It’s not about power but making sure you are leading the organization in the right direction. Second, conflict avoidance is impossible as a leader. You have to make the hard decisions when you know some people will be disappointed.”

Dr. Walensky and Dr. Montgomery Rice also discussed health disparities and the critical need for more diversity in the healthcare workforce. “One of the things we often highlight as a positive from the pandemic is that it shined a bright spotlight on health disparities, particularly in communities of color,” said Dr. Montgomery Rice.

Pointing out that the healthcare workforce needs more diversity to address health disparities, Dr. Walensky said, “When you think about how we are going to develop a public health workforce that is as diverse as the communities we serve, we absolutely need a diversity of workforce. Communities really want to talk to people who understand their community.”

Launched earlier this year, Danforth Dialogues focuses on the leadership lessons from the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and their broader implication for society. Named after the historic Danforth Chapel on the Morehouse College campus, the podcast series features a cross-section of guests and topics.