Latinas Rising in Health and Technology.
By Gloria Romano-Barrera and Christine Bolaños.
Exemplifying visionary leadership in health and technology related fields, highlighted here are two Latinas who take pride in their work and continue to impact the lives of many, including the company they work for.
Geraldine Massuh, MPH.
Research Associate, Global Real-World Evidence, Pfizer Board Member – National Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives (NAHHE).
A bilingual, first-generation daughter of Ecuadorian immigrants, growing up in the inner city of Jamaica, Queens in New York incited Massuh to question the health system in the community at an early age. From long waiting times to see a physician, to being surrounded by fast-food restaurants, she noticed that her neighborhood’s health, including her own, was being burdened by disparities.
“By the time I was in a specialized health professions high school, I learned that health cannot be understood from simply a biological standpoint,” she shares. “But it is situated within a framework of political, economic, and social aspects. At the same, new technologies were rapidly advancing and I became interested in how they could be used to improve the drug development process and improving patient outcomes – because these are also an integral part of a holistic health system.”
As a Research Associate at Pfizer in Patient and Health Impact, Massuh is responsible for work streams to improve efficiencies regarding market access and health economics outcome research (HEOR). She also manages projects for enterprise use of real-world data/evidence and launch preparation. Her role at Pfizer impacts the lives of patients and collaboratively with her team, she works to ensure patients receive access to medicines that are safe, effective, and affordable.
“Technology is rapidly advancing the Geraldine Massuh. use of real-world evidence (data captured outside of traditional clinical research settings, including electronic medical records, registries, and mobile applications among others), which can have an impact on the speed in which vital drugs reach patients in need,” she states. “My greatest accomplishment thus far was spearheading the procurement of a technology platform to provide colleagues with efficient access to internal real-world evidence resources and data tools.”
Massuh believes there is room for more diversity especially for Boards and health executive positions. “It is important to have diversity of thought and identities to better understand patient needs and improve the health of all,” she shares. “More focused programs and resources are needed to retain and continue developing diverse employees to become executives and key decision-makers. Working with a diversity of colleagues towards purpose-driven growth to impact patients’ lives. I enjoy Pfizer’s dynamic inclusive environment and the many opportunities to grow.”
She is a Board Member for the National Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives. In this capacity, she lead initiatives such as the Health Professions Mentorship Program (HPMP), developing students to become healthcare and STEM leaders. She is also responsible for sponsor/partner relations, strategy and marketing, and Editor-in-Chief for the monthly Healthcare Newsbrief. She is an Advisory Board Member for the Hunter College Center for Cancer Health Disparities Research, fostering community engagement in cancer research as part of the Temple University/Fox Chase Cancer Center and Hunter College Regional Comprehensive Cancer Health Disparities Partnership.
Before completing her Master’s in Public Health in management and policy at Columbia University, she was leading community-based research programs using technology, including telehealth, at Weill Cornell Medicine. She has also consulted on nationwide projects regarding cultural competence in the health workforce. She founded LatinXHealth, a curated platform to learn about local health-related and STEM opportunities, programs, and scholarships with a focus on diverse communities.
Massuh is proud to have learned the meaning of integrity from her parents. As a professional, she’s motivated by her parent’s tenacity to succeed in a new country without having resources and without knowing the language.
“I believe in providing opportunities to those who seek them out like my parents did, and thus, I’m proud in helping others to achieve their goals in becoming professionals in the health and STEM field,” she shares. “My advice to aspiring Latinas in STEM is to seek a mentor and/or a sponsor – someone to take a proactive role in helping you navigate your career and personal aspirations. Asking questions and learning from other’s experiences and trajectories has helped me get to where I am today. I enjoy making new connections and advise Latinas to strategically network as much as possible.”
By Christine Bolaños
Deputy Executive Director, Office of Quality, Integration, and Executive Services (AQS) Aviation Safety Organization (AVS) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
To say that aviation is a family affair for Janette Ramos is an understatement. Her husband, father, brother and father-in-law all work or worked in aviation. Ramos has continued that rich tradition by working at the Federal Aviation Administration for more than 30 years and becoming one of the top three highest-ranking Latinas in the FAA.
“My father Jesus Malcon was an electronic technician serving under the same agency, in the FAA, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was extremely proud of his job and his desire to help the American flying public, so he instilled this in my brother, my sisters and I,” she says. “We experienced this pride he felt serving this nation of ours that we decided, ‘Hey, maybe we need to pursue something in the federal government.’”
Today, Ramos serves as Deputy Executive Director of the Office of Quality, Integration, and Executive Services within the Aviation Safety Organization. She is as committed to aviation safety as she is to supporting Latinos in the industry.
Ramos is a longtime member and ardent supporter of the FAA National Hispanic Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NHCFAE). She also actively leads and sponsors interns in the FAA-Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Internship Programs. Ramos served as chairperson of the Women’s Program and Deputy of the Hispanic Employment Program.
“That helped me help individuals inside the FAA to (reach) their maximum potential,” she says. “I really wanted Hispanic women and other minorities to have equal rights and opportunities that I had.”
She is extremely proud of her heritage and culture.
“As Latinos we love to help and contribute to society,” Ramos shares. “I’m very optimistic, positive, motivational and a happy person and most of all my upbringing by my parents, taught my siblings and I, that we have to do everything with integrity, work hard, be respectful and responsible.”
Ramos is responsible for overseeing, managing and providing direction to AQS within AVS and its senior management team. She is the only Hispanic on her senior management team. Her team has 60 employees and four directors report directly to her. The divisions include Quality, Integration & Process, Planning and Performance, Finance and Budget (the budget is $1.2 billion), and, Management and Business Services.
As impressive as her resume is, Ramos says the most fulfilling part of her job is using her skill-set and experience to serve the American public.
“Sometimes it’s really hard to leave my job because I get into it and want to resolve things,” she laughs, emphasizing that she owes her success to her team. She is currently providing direct support to the acting FAA Chief of Staff. Ramos encourages Latinas to pursue their dreams and remember: “Si, se puede.”