Education at OHSU

Women's Leadership Development Program

WLDP 2023-2024 Cohort gather at their opening session
WLDP 2023-2024 Cohort at their opening session. The group includes MD, PA, and DNP students.

The Women’s Leadership Development Program (WLDP) was founded in 2015 by Dr. Megan Furnari with a group of inspired women medical students committed to improving the healthcare journey for women trainees. In 2021, the WLDP moved programming to the Provost’s Office at OHSU and expanded to include more women healthcare learners including the P.A. and D.N.P. Program. Moving forward, WLDP will continue to cultivate an inter-professional space for women’s leadership development for learners.

WLDP supports a much-needed strategy for women in medicine to speak their truth, show up as leaders, support each other and affirm the value of personal and collective narrative.

WLDP women participants are taking risks, being elected to student council positions, leading student organizations, receiving awards, and getting scholarships. WLDP is a critical liftoff point for OHSU women student leaders to take risks, achieve successes, and see their impact from early on in their medical training.

For more information, contact us.


To cultivate a community of healthcare leaders identifying as women to:

  • Advance collaborative relationships
  • Build and apply professional skills and opportunities
  • Foster a culture of curiosity, equity, and advocacy


To create opportunities for intersectional women to lead and promote gender equity in healthcare.


  • Authenticity
  • Intentionality
  • Growth
  • Camaraderie
  • Iterative
  • Adaptive
  • Elevation
  • Celebration


M.D. WLDP Program

Since the creation of WLDP in 2015, greater than 100 incredible women medical student scholars and alumni have participated in the WLDP program. Some are currently in medical school and many others are in residency.

First-year WLDP women participate in approximately 10 sessions led by invited OHSU faculty and expert speakers on topics that emphasize our core pillars: leadership, community, mentorship and wellness.

Second-year WLDP women mentor and facilitate the program for new members if they desire to continue in the curriculum.

Third- and fourth-year women have opportunities to join in large community events, mentor younger women in the program, teach content, and attend conferences.

P.A. WLDP Program

Launching in 2021, the P.A. WLDP will cultivate a unique approach to fit the needs of women leaders in the P.A. program, while also synergizing with M.D. women leaders regularly to grow in an understanding of how they can work together and collectively grow as leaders together. We are expanding the current content to include the experience of P.A. women learners.

Nursing WLDP Program

Launching in 2022, WLDP included the first D.N.P. participants with the P.A. and M.D. students in the same cohort. Kristen Ash, D.N.P. faculty, helped to build the program to be inclusive of nursing language and needs. Now D.N.P. learners are fully integrated into the WLDP experience and add depth and unique experiences to the community.


The WLDP leadership team consists of faculty and senior students.

  • WLDP Founder and Director: Megan Furnari, M.D.
  • Faculty P.A. Leader: Brianna Hanson
  • Faculty D.N.P. Leader: Kristen Ash
  • Student leadership teams are WLDP scholars who completed the first year of the program and were selected by peers and faculty as expert mentors/leaders to help our community thrive and grow.


WLDP consists of monthly interactive lectures taught by expert leaders from the OHSU faculty paired with WLPD student leaders. The curriculum focuses on dynamic conversations empowering trainees to become current and future leaders in healthcare. Leadership development and mentorship are two core areas of the program. Each session also includes valuable teaching and reflection on gender equity, well-being, and community building skills.

Leadership skill development

  • Sessions with accomplished women including female deans, chairs, and executive leaders in the OHSU community reflecting on their careers and leadership skills.
  • Encouragement of WLDP participants to run for leadership positions (successes have been numerous including multiple presidents of the student government, student group leaders, multiple scholarship/award recipients).
  • Session on advocating for yourself and other women in the healthcare space.
  • Brian Park, M.D., Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Director of the Relate Lab in the Department of Family Medicine and Relational Leadership Institute. Teaches about narrative leadership and how to turn your personal narrative into action and advocacy.
  • Laura Zeigen, M.P.H., M.L.I.S., liaison librarian and assistant professor, OHSU School of Medicine. Teaches on history of women entering the healthcare space and the role of gender.


  • Pairing of second-year year WLDP women with first-year year WLDP women to encourage growth and peer mentoring.
  • Mentorship from expert teachers in the WLDP curriculum and from the WLDP board of women faculty and staff leaders from across OHSU.
  • Megan Furnari, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, teaches on mentorship, sponsorship and networking.


  • Financial support and grants from the Oregon Medical Education Foundation, Medical Society of Metropolitan Portland, the OHSU School of Medicine Dean's Office & Bacon Grant, American Medical Women's Association Scholarships.
  • Presentations at the American Medical Women's Association Annual Conference 2017 (3rd place win in student poster competition), American Medical Association Education Innovation Conference 2017 workshop presentation, Oregon Medical Association Annual Conference 2017 and 2018 workshop presentations, Association of American Medical Colleges annual western states meeting 2018 workshop presentation and poster.
  • Multiple WLDP women becoming leaders in the School of Medicine and beyond, including: two presidents of student government, co-chair of a clinic to support health and social services for the under-served in Portland, student founders of the OHSU Gender Equity Center, student health advisory committee president addressing mental health needs of medical students, AMWA student chapter president and the majority of the leadership team, Institute for Healthcare Improvement co-president and IHI Change Agent of the Year Award Recipient.

Participant reflections

I've been a nurse practitioner for many years and I serve in a couple of leadership roles at OHSU.

I am enrolled in OHSU’s Post-Master's Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, so when this opportunity came up to be a part of the Women's Leadership Development Program I couldn't wait to get started!

I'm thrilled to see how WLDP can expand to other disciplines and I am honored to be involved.

Kristen Ash, ANP-BC, D.N.P., WLDP D.N.P. Faculty Leader, WLDP participant

Joining Women's Leadership Development Program (WLDP) meant I had an immediate community of powerful, thoughtful female-identifying leaders eager to connect and support one another.

Early on as a student leader in the OHSU School of Medicine, I was connected through WLDP to the third-year President of Student Council, Monique Hedmann, M.D.

Not only did we get to serve our classes at a time when all the Student Council Presidents were women, her support and wisdom as a powerful female-identifying leader helped me to develop a more authentic professional identity and navigate many complex leadership challenges.

Much of my professional development can be attributed to the professional relationships I made through WLDP.

Meghan Vandewettering, WLDP Leader and Medical Student, Class of 2022, OHSU School of Medicine

I am really excited to be involved with WLDP both on a personal and profession level.  A shift in the culture of medical practice and education is needed to retain and promote women. 

I hope that we can start to recognize the importance of alternate pathways to and within our careers to make leadership roles appealing and accessible to more women.  

This is a place for true inter-professional collaboration.  We can bring together diverse experiences to recognize and solve problems and decrease barriers.  I look forward to seeing what we can develop at the intersection of our professions.

Lillian Navarro-Reynolds, WLDP P.A. Program Faculty Leader, OHSU

The Women's Leadership Development Program at OHSU was an inimitable component of my education as a medical student at OHSU – it provided me with leadership skills I would not have had the chance to develop otherwise (and, perhaps more critically, encouragement to leverage those skills). It also provided me with a rich community of bright, bold women that pushed me to the edge of my potential.

Now that I am in the residency phase of my training, I've found joy in offering mentorship and guidance to current WLDP student members.

One thing I love about the WLDP is the respectful flattening of hierarchy: there are many women-identified attendings I've felt comfortable reaching out to because of their involvement in our network, and similarly I have been a resource to students who may not have contacted me without the WLDP.

Hannah Dischinger, M.D., Internal Medicine Resident OHSU and WLDP Alumni and Senior Leader, Class of 2020, OHSU School of Medicine