Dr. Amy Acton shares leadership lessons after advising the Governor of Ohio during COVID-19 at WIMS event


“Optimism is hope with a plan.” - Dr. Amy Acton

Wise words from Amy Acton, MD, MPH, who delivered the keynote lecture at The Ohio State University College of Medicine Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS) (external link) annual speaker event on campus Dec. 1, 2022. Dr. Acton is a physician and community leader who has spent over 30 years pursuing her passion for public health and wellness. She served as the Director of the Ohio Department of Health and as cabinet member and advisor to the Governor of Ohio during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. Amy Acton speech

Her talk, entitled "The Leader We Wish We Had is YOU,” shared a behind the scenes look into what it was like to work with public health, local, state and national figures while leading the state of Ohio’s COVID-19 response. She also outlined the leadership traits that are needed in the modern leadership toolbox.

Dr. Acton did not shy away from a candid account of how we as a state, a community and a nation faced not only the virus, but also a contagion of fear, loneliness, unmooring, and collective trauma. She also shared a strong message to WIMS members and others in attendance.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up and find your voice,” Dr. Acton said. “This is a continued time that calls for leaders who have the courage to tell the truth and be brutally honest.”

Considering she was speaking to a group of WIMS members and leaders and other college representatives responsible for the critical work to enhance the college’s commitment to shared values, talent and diversity, her words could not have been more appropriate.

Before introducing Dr. Acton, Tatiana Oberyszyn, PhD, professor of Pathology, vice dean for Faculty Affairs at the Ohio State College of Medicine and WIMS Steering Committee member, drove home the importance of WIMS as an organization and framework at Ohio State.

“You have highlighted areas for opportunity at Ohio State to increase parity and equity,” Dr. Oberyszyn said. “You’ve encouraged our female faculty to step into leadership roles and you’ve created monumental programming for the College of Medicine, such as today’s event.”

The mission of WIMS is to “promote equity and advancement for faculty in the College of Medicine at The Ohio State University by cultivating awareness, advocating for change, and empowering women faculty to achieve personal and professional fulfillment.”

Dr. Acton is currently director of a new nonprofit being created to champion RAPID 5, a movement dedicated to connecting central Ohioans to nature and one another through the region’s five major waterways and the parks and trails along them. In 2022 she was named Woman of the Year for Ohio by USA Today, for the significant impact she has had.