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Jody Hoffer Gittell, PhD
Executive Director, Professor
Relational Coordination Research Collaborative, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University 


Transforming Relationships for High Performance
Friday, June 26th at 12:00pm ET

We have arguably entered the “age of relation” where, as human beings, we can either create a more relational society or move further into decline.  Consistent with this argument, there is strong evidence that relational coordination – communicating and relating for the purpose of task integration – helps multiple stakeholders to achieve their desired outcomes under conditions of interdependence, uncertainty and time constraints.  Shared goals work by motivating participants to move beyond sub-goal optimization to act with regard for the whole. Shared knowledge enables systems thinking by informing participants of how their own actions and the actions of others contribute to the whole.  Respect for the work of others encourages participants to value the contributions of others and to consider the impact of their actions on others, reinforcing their ability to act with regard for the whole.  This web of relationships reinforces, and is reinforced by, frequent, timely, accurate, problem-solving communication, enabling participants to effectively coordinate their actions.  Low quality relationships have the opposite effect.  

But less is known about how leaders can facilitate greater visibility and strengthen relational coordination where it is in need of repair.  In this keynote, Dr. Gittell will show how relational coordination works then share the latest knowledge about how leaders facilitate the process of strengthening it in their organizations and communities, working together across multiple levels of systems change. 

About Jody: Jody Hoffer Gittell is a Professor of Management at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management.   Her research explores how stakeholders contribute to quality and efficiency outcomes through their coordination with each other. She developed a theory of relational coordination, proposing that highly interdependent work is most effectively coordinated through frequent, timely, accurate, problem-solving communication, supported by relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge and mutual respect. Research demonstrates that relational coordination is associated with a wide range of positive outcomes, and that organizations can support it through the design of their work systems.  To measure relational coordination, Gittell developed the RC Survey as a validated instrument that is widely used for research, and more recently as a tool for practice, to assess dynamics among stakeholders and inform organizational change. Gittell received her PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management and taught for six years at the Harvard Business School before joining the faculty of Brandeis University in 2001. 

Patient Perspectives on Telehealth Communication Experiences

Friday, June 26th at 2:45pm ET

The rapid expansion of telehealth practice, induced by the recent pandemic and the need for social distancing, has thrust patients into new healthcare experiences. Panelists representing the patient voice will consider telehealth communication experiences from the patient perspective Panelist will discuss:  possibilities for telehealth to improve the patient-provider relationship, , limitations of communication in  in the telehealth space, and questions for our community to consider regarding the future of patient-provider communication via telehealth.   

Curtis Lucas Ph.D.
Organizational Psychologist & Communication Trainer-Coach, U.S. VA Health System 

Curtis Lucas, Ph.D. is an organizational psychologist, starting his career with the Department of Veteran Affairs in 2005 and currently servicing as a trainer-coach focused on communication skills at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, SC.  He served approximately 7 years as an active duty Army officer followed by 7 years in the corporate sector. Curtis received his doctorate degree in Psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1997, and then spent 7 years in university settings at Vanderbilt, UNC Charlotte, and UNC Chapel Hill as a practicing Psychologist. He current interests include running (5k,10k and half-marathons), chess, reading and mindfulness. 
Jessica Caron, MEd
Healthcare professional and patient advocate in the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) community

Jessica Caron, MEd is a passionate healthcare professional and patient advocate in the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) community. As a nationally-recognized speaker on patient advocacy, Jessica shares her experience as a patient living with Crohn’s disease, advocating for a co-facilitated approach to medical care. She has been a Patient Leader with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s IBDQorus program for the last five years, and currently consults with a national team of IBD clinical cohorts. Jessica is also a member of the Patient Engagement Committee with the Academy of Communication in Healthcare and advises other patients across the country with Crohn’s and colitis through the Power of Two mentoring program. She has a Psychology degree from the University of Maine, a Master of Education in Human Relations from Plymouth State University, and recently earned her master’s in health care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College. Jessica currently lives and works in New Hampshire with her husband and two young sons. 
Kirsten Isgro, Ph.D.
Associate Professor in Communication Studies at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh and core faculty in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Department of Biomedical and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont

Kirsten Isgro, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in Communication Studies at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh and core faculty in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Department of Biomedical and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont. She also teaches health communication for Champlain College’s Continuing Professional Studies Healthcare Management program.  
Kirsten serves on the Vermont Pediatric Palliative Care Program Steering Committee and was on the Patient and Parent Advisory Council (PFAC) for the Vermont Children's Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center for seven years. She is a family faculty member for the University of Vermont medical and nursing students, which include teaching collaborative communication skills with families with medically complicated needs.  Her academic interests include gender/sexuality studies, sexual justice and health communication. Much of her patient advocacy focuses on interprofessional collaboration with the explicit purpose of improving organizational systems for individuals seeking health and social services.  

Moderated by: Greta Rosler, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CPXP: ACH Director of Program Strategy and Implementation

Equity Matters

Friday, June 26th at 5:35pm ET

ACH leaders share brief personal narratives and engage in conversation about vision/priorities in prioritizing racial equity in healthcare communication . The session will begin with a brief conversation among panelists. Attendees will then be invited to engage in facilitated small group breakout discussions.


Craig Roth, MD, FACP University of Minnesota Medical School

Craig is a primary care internist. He is the Director of Interprofessional Education and Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, MN. Career interests include health care communication in teams, and education around challenging conversations, such as across differences or when strong emotions are present. He recently completed his term as VP for Internal Education for the Academy of Communication in Healthcare and is a graduate of their Faculty In Training Program. Semi-retirement has afforded more time for volunteering in a free clinic, reading and gardening, and rebuilding a 60 year old rotting garage.

Brooke Cunningham, MD, PhD
University of Minnesota Medical School

I am a general internist, a sociologist, and an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at University of Minnesota. As a clinician, I practice internal medicine at the Community-University Health Care Clinic (CUHCC), a federally-qualified health clinic that serves a diverse patient population, most of whom live in poverty. As an educator, I teach first year medical students at the University of Minnesota about race as a social construct and the mechanisms through which racism affects health. I have also begun training internal medicine residents to communicate with their patients about their experiences of racism. In addition, I have been invited to speak about race, racism and health to a variety of local and national groups, including the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Minnesota Medical Association, and medical schools around the country. As a researcher, I use mixed methods to examine factors that impede or facilitate health systems’ efforts to address health equity, such as colorblindness, implicit bias, and conceptualizing race as a biological variable. I was recently awarded an NIH NHLBI K23 Mentored Career Development Award to develop and test a feasible, acceptable, and evidence-based method for health care providers to communicate about racism with multigenerational African-American patients.

Daniella Cordero
University of California, San Francisco

Daniella Cordero, B.S. is a fourth year medical student at University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Daniella completed her undergraduate studies at Duke University, where she received a B.S. in Neuroscience and a certificate in Ethics. She has a background in global health, including HIV and substance abuse research.

Since beginning medical school, Daniella has been very active as a leader in campus organizations devoted to supporting students of color and marginalized patients. She has been a student of facilitation in the UCSF Women of Color in Medicine, Surgery and Research meetings. Daniella has also organized intra- and extra-curricular education on gun violence prevention using relationship-centered principles. She views communication as an invaluable tool for promoting health equity and improving patient outcomes. She is currently serving a 2-year term in the Student/Trainee Member at Large position on the ACH Board of Directors. Daniella is committed to a career in surgery and hopes to become a faculty advocate for communication in academic medicine.

Moderated by:
Denise Davis, MD
University of California, San Francisco

Denise L. Davis is a general internist, Clinical Professor of Medicine at University of California San Francisco and she serves as Associate Director for Faculty Development for the San Francisco VA Center of Excellence in Primary Care Education. Dr. Davis teaches faculty development workshops locally and nationally on communication skills, including ground breaking workshops for the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare on opening discussions about race in clinical settings and facilitating small groups with cultural humility. She has conducted focus groups with African American patients about health and doctor-patient communication, the results of which inform her teaching. Dr. Davis consults and teaches for medical groups including Florida Hospital Orlando, Colon Rectal Surgery Associates Limited in Minneapolis, Fairview Medical Group of Minneapolis, San Mateo Medical Center, San Mateo California and Franciscan Medical Group in Tacoma Washington on topics including improving doctor-patient communication, obtaining informed consent, negotiating cultural differences in clinical relationships, disclosing medical errors and giving effective feedback. Dr. Davis is a past recipient of the prestigious Kaiser Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching for her work with students at UCSF School of Medicine and was recognized by the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators as an outstanding teacher in 2013. Dr. Davis was elected to the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators in 2015.

Dr. Davis piloted “Mentoring Across Differences,” a 3 hour faculty development training designed to improve the skills and confidence of faculty mentors in building relationships with minority learners at the for San Francisco VA. She also co-facilitated and helped design a well-received longitudinal “Faculty Peer Consultation Group on Race, Ethnicity and Power” for UCSF faculty. Dr. Davis is also lead faculty for the “Differences Matter Orientation” a 3 day intensive on communication skills for diversity and inclusion designed to help incoming first year UCSF medical students understand and participate fully in the school of medicine’s culture of equity. Dr. Davis also serves as specialist for minority medical students through the UCSF Student Experience Team.

Online Facilitation: Teaching Communication Skills in the Virtual Space

Saturday, June 27th at 12pm ET

Adapting teaching practices to the virtual space presents both challenges and opportunities. This session features a panel discussion with communication skills educators as they share perspectives, experiences, and practical tips on teaching communication online. Panelists will discuss techniques for online facilitation, including how to deliver didactic content, set up demos, run role-plays, share feedback, and manage participant and technology challenges. 


  • Consider challenges and opportunities of teaching online
  • Identify tools and practices for teaching communication skills online 
  • Discuss equity and inclusion as learners’ interface in the online space
  • Explore techniques for effective online facilitation 
Calvin Chou, MD, PhD, FACH is Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, and staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Health Care System in San Francisco. As Senior Faculty Advisor for External Education with the Academy of Communication in Healthcare, he is recognized internationally for leading workshops in relationship-centered communication, feedback, conflict, and remediation in health professions education. He is co-editor of the books Remediation in Medical Education: A Midcourse Correction, and Communication Rx: Transforming Healthcare Through Relationship-Centered Communication.
Gregorie Constant-Peter MD, FAAFP,
Orlando VA Medical Center, Florida, is a Family Medicine & Women’s Health physician. She earned her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine, Dominica and completed a Family Medicine residency at Robert Wood Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ. Currently a Faculty-in-Training-Academy on Communication in Healthcare.
Taranjeet Kalra Ahuja, DO
is an Assistant Professor of Science Education & Pediatrics at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. Currently she is the Co-Leader of the four-year Communication Skills Curricular Thread and in addition to her medical education responsibilities, maintains an outpatient pediatric clinical practice.
Adina Kalet, MD, MPH, FACH
Director of the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education at The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). Dr. Kalet leads this innovative and collaborative institute and was awarded the Stephen and Shelagh Roell Endowed Chair. She is co-editor of the book Remediation in Medical Education: A Midcourse Correction.

Moderated by:
Laura Cooley, PhD, ACH Senior Director of Education and Outreach