Student Voices: Meet LeWanza Harris, Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership Class of 2022

By: Janice Endresen
headshot of LeWanza Harris

LeWanza M. Harris, MD, MPH, Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership Class of 2022

A physician executive focused on quality and regulatory affairs, meet LeWanza M. Harris, MD, MPH, Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership Class of 2022.

LeWanza took on a new role as vice president of quality and regulatory affairs for the Mount Sinai Health System beginning January 1, 2021. In this role, she will provide strategic leadership and oversight for all clinical quality functions across the Mount Sinai Health System to achieve organizational goals related to clinical excellence, regulatory compliance, and quality management. A doctor of medicine, she earned her MD and her master of public health degrees from the University of Rochester.

As a student in Johnson’s Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership, a dual-degree program offered in partnership with the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, LeWanza connects with classmates on alternate Saturdays and Sundays. Learn more about her in this Q&A.

Why did you decide to pursue an Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership?

I decided to pursue an Executive MBA/MS because I wanted to combine my passions of medicine and problem solving with business to become an excellent manager who understands all perspectives in healthcare.

What career goals will it help you achieve?

Post-MBA/MS, I plan to leverage my business acumen in business strategy, healthcare negotiations, and managing operations to understand the payer, provider, and patient convergence better.

 Why did you choose Johnson and Weill Cornell?

As a physician executive, I need to have a holistic view of the business in healthcare that the program instills. The COVID-19 pandemic shed a light on some need improvements and inequities in healthcare delivery. Developing new healthcare delivery models and optimizing innovation will allow health systems to provide a more efficient service to patients. Johnson and Weill Cornell are the best schools to gain exposure to innovative ideas and the tools to drive innovation across a challenging landscape.

What aspects of the Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership program do you most value?

I look forward to the Lightning Talks to glean insights from business leaders and entrepreneurs on how innovation, design thinking, and creative models have been incorporated into the healthcare ecosystem. It’s also great to hear how these leaders have navigated through their careers.

Did you have second thoughts about starting your MBA/MS during the pandemic? If so, what tipped the scales in favor of starting this year?

I was concerned about starting my MBA/MS during the pandemic because of the uncertainty and challenge of planning anything given the demands at my job and the demands of my family, particularly homeschooling. However, I quickly realized this was the right time for me and that no time is the perfect time. There will always be something that seems more pressing to address.

What, if anything, surprises you about your virtual classes?

Initially, I was apprehensive about the virtual learning model. One of the reasons I chose Cornell was the exposure to world-class faculty and students. I was concerned the natural connection through in-person socialization and instruction may suffer due to the virtual approach. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of the virtual learning model and the high engagement from faculty and students.

Are you connecting with your cohorts and making new friends in spite of virtual classes and social distancing? Can you describe what it’s like to make new connections in a purely virtual setting?

I am connecting with my cohorts and making new friends. Virtual classes and the pandemic make it more of a challenge to socialize. However, my teammates and I have had a virtual social activity to get to know each other better.

What’s one thing you’ve learned so far from your MBA/MS experience?

I have always believed that one should approach a new venture with humility. I recognize that the subject matters are not in my comfort zone given my biomedical and public health background. As a result, I have had to exercise more humility and lean onto my colleagues who have stronger backgrounds in business. This has been a great experience because we all have something to bring to the table and contribute.

What have you most enjoyed about being a Johnson and Weill Cornell MBA/MS student so far?

As a student, I have pushed myself beyond my comfort zone to build a solid business acumen. I have enjoyed the enthusiastic and engaging faculty who make learning fun. I also have enjoyed the resources in the Career Development Office, in which the staff are a wonderful resource for career planning and career advice.