Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Riza Lavizzo-Mourey

Named one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” by Forbes, Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey is the first woman and African-American President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest health-focused philanthropic organization in the United States. A native of Seattle, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey holds a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Business Administration in Health Care Administration from Wharton School of Business.

In June 2015, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey was invited to the Forbes Women’s Summit in New York City, where she took part in a panel titled, “The Longevity Paradox: Is Living Longer Really Better?” The summit, of which the Forbes School of Business® at Ashford University was a sponsor, featured 250 women from a number of industries, including education, business, media, entertainment, and philanthropy.

Forward Thinking sat down with Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey to discuss a number of topics relevant to women in business:

On Mentorship:

On mentorship, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey urged professionals to be “persistent” and look for many different mentors because time is valuable.

“Try to ask yourself, ‘What is the one or two things that this person can help me with, and I’m just gonna try to limit it to that,’ because that may be all the time they can give you, and yet that would be such a gift.”

On Finding Your Passion:

Not every professional is working in the field s/he wants to work, and some are facing roadblocks as they try to get ahead. To this, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey said, “Follow your passion. If you’re not passionate about it, it’s gonna be hard work, and you may not want to do it in the long run. Secondly, there is no substitute for persistence.”

On Business Acumen:

Taking smart risks, and learning from the results, can help improve your chances in business, according to Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey. At the same time, building a quality team can be a recipe for success.

“One of the people here at the summit said you want to definitely have people smarter than you, and if you’re the smartest one on your team, you probably haven’t put together the right team.”

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