Emerging Leader Program

The New England Society for Healthcare Communications is proud to offer a comprehensive new program for our next generation of leaders.

In this twelve-month program, healthcare communications professionals with aspirations for leadership roles will learn critical skills and insights from leaders in the profession, gain insights into their individual strengths and traits and how they fit into the constellations of skills needed of leaders in our profession.

NESHCo’s mission is to be the resource for success, growth, and professional development in the communications profession. The course is meant to inspire self-discovery and collegial relationships among class members and faculty.


  • Your individual leadership strengths profile
  • How your strengths match up with identified must-have talents of today’s healthcare communications leaders.
  • How your career path compares to those of well-established leaders in our profession.
  • Critical skills for organizing, building and leading a team and maintaining a positive culture
  • Drawing on your own strengths and values to manage through the tough times 
  • What your own experience and that of others can teach you about your leadership vision
  • Insights from a professional career coach about your own career arc 


Ideal candidates have at least five years of experience in the health care communications professions. They will be new in a leadership role, or contemplating a move into leadership, and looking for insights into that transition, and their readiness for it. The best candidates will be curious, willing to share experiences and keep open minds as we explore leadership as a career path.

Online applications will be accepted March 15 - April 5, 2018. Application will consist of a letter detailing current position, intentions and reasons for contemplating a transition to leadership and what the candidate hopes to gain from the class. Participants must commit to attending the six sessions, three in person, and three web-based, and completing the work as assigned between sessions. The application must include a letter of recommendation from a health care leader, sharing insights as to the leadership potential and fitness of the candidate for the program. 

You will be notified by April 13, 2018 if you have been selected. 

A link with payment instructions will follow.



Tuesday May 22 - 2018, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center, Southbridge, MA

Choosing the Leadership Path  

Participants will engage in a discussion of their own characteristics of leadership, as assessed through the Clifton Strengths Assessment Tool (to be completed prior to the meeting). Participants will gain an understanding of their personal signature strengths and how the complementary strengths of others blend to form functional teams.

We will hold panel discussion with leaders from different health care organizations, talking about their career paths, their choices with regard to leadership opportunities, and their tips for success and successful transition. 

Panelists will include:

  • Tricia Denham, APR, Director of Marketing and Communications for Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor, Maine
  • Helayne Lightstone, Senior Director, Marketing & Branding, Hartford Health, Hartford, Connecticut 
  • Dan Dunlop, Principal, Jennings

The panel will be moderated by Diana Pisciotta, President of Denterlein Worldwide, a public relations and crisis communications firm in Boston. Having moved into leadership from staff positions she will share her thoughts about the challenges of that transition and the considerations and preparations required for the evolution from staff position to leadership.

Based upon the Clifton strengths, participants will develop a plan for next steps, with regard to their strengths assessment and career path development.


July 13, 2018 - 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
90 min. Webinar

Building Your Dream Team   

NESHCo’s current president, John Looney, Vice President of Marketing, communications, and Public Affairs at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Newton, Massachusetts will present strategies for building a functioning communication team. The session is a practical discussion of the components of constructing a communication team and advocating for that team within an organization.

Participants will then hear from Nicole Gakidis, executive search consultant for Exceptional Executive Search and Phillips-DePisa, about the search process. How to get the information you need from the resume and the interview, and the do’s and don’ts of the selection process. 


October 12, 2018 - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center, Southbridge, MA

Bridging strengths to today’s must-have healthcare leadership skill sets   

In this session, emerging leaders will learn the industry-specific leadership skills that our nation’s healthcare organizations need in order to succeed in the fast-changing landscape. Colleagues Jeff Steblea, our region’s Board of Directors representative at the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development and recently past president of SHSMD Christine Gallery, Senior Vice President of Planning & Chief Strategy Officer at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts will share insights from the Society’s Bridging Worlds 2.0. Driven by extensive, multi-year research, the Society’s Bridging Worlds 2.0 reveals clusters of strategic and communication skills that are prized by health care organizations as we move forward as an industry. 

We will then delve deeply into individual skillsets (assessed individually prior to the meeting) looking for synergies and opportunities for growth. Participants will have the substantial resources of the Society’s library of resources and presentation materials to help them bridge gaps in their own skills. The group session will provide time for networking among peers, to identify complementary partnerships that can aid in skill development into the future. 

In the final portion of the day, we will introduce the concept of career coaching and its value at any point during the arc of a career. How to assess readiness for change, how to prepare for it and pursue it, putting your best self forward for consideration. 


January 11, 2019 - 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
90 min. Webinar

The career coaching experience, Benefits and Learnings       

While many professionals may never engage with a career coach, those who do realize the benefit of a subjective, expert opinion on readiness, strengths, presentation, and preparation for career advancement. Our participants will have individual phone sessions with our career coaching company, Heart at Work. 

During this webinar, they will hear from the coach about the general benefits and process of coaching as a construct in career development. They will also have an opportunity, as a group, to discuss their learnings from their own process, share impressions of the insights they gained, and with their growing knowledge of each other, share reactions to the information they are sharing with the group. 


March 8, 2019 - 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
90 min. Webinar

Leading teams through positive culture        

Teams with a positive culture and a sense of purpose and belonging are more productive, more creative, and more committed to both the team and their organization. In addition to the monetary benefits of a good job, members of a positive team gain intrinsic personal and professional reinforcement and satisfaction. 

Keith Fontaine, Vice President of Marketing and Branding at Hartford Health, has successfully blended the teams of six hospitals, as well as many community-based health services across central Connecticut into one team. His leadership philosophy and ability to acknowledge and celebrate talents and successes, and foster individual development have produced a culture at Hartford Health that is well recognized as positive, innovative and productive. 

Our emerging leaders will learn from Keith the component parts to building a positive team culture and have the opportunity to ask their own questions and learn from his insights. 


June 2019 - 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Pre-conference workshop at the 2019 NESHCo Spring Conference

The resilient leader, leading through challenge and disaster   

Failure is inevitable. How do the best leaders make it through the tough times, when a team member is poisoning the well, or when the bottom falls out of a job completely. In this session, emerging leaders will learn some strategies for addressing a poison apple on a team and for recovering and moving forward after losing a leadership position. 

Presenters will include

  • Jill McDonald Halsey, APR, Chief Marketing & Communication Officer at Lawrence General Hospital, Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • Lynn Robbins, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Portsmouth, NH
  • Susan McDonald, Senior Health Writer, Hartford Health, Hartford, Connecticut

In this final session, our expert facilitator will delve deeply into the concept of resiliency and its importance for leaders and help our emerging leaders to understand what strengths in their individual tool box they can rely upon and leverage in times of trouble. 

Program Facilitator

Linda Meccouri, PHD

Linda is a masterful Appreciative Inquiry facilitator, using this powerful model to enable individuals and organizations to understand and unleash their strengths, co-create visionary change, and build resiliency through self-awareness and reliance on their positive core. With more than 30 years of teaching experience at the community college, undergraduate, and graduate level, Dr. Meccouri is the recipient of two Endowed Chairs for Teaching Excellence and is highly respected for her creative approaches to leadership and positive change.

What she does best is cultivate the strengths of individuals and organizations, walking the visionary path with practical feet. Linda has a reputation for getting things done while maintaining integrity and promoting human dignity, and facilitates learning using a strengths-based, appreciative inquiry approach.

Career Coaching

Amy Jaffe, MA

Amy is the current President of the Maine Career Development Association and holds a Masters Degree in Career Development. Her approach to career counseling combines empathy and sensitivity with practical, actionable counsel. Amy incorporates interests, skills, and personality assessments into her work with clients and works with mid career professionals interested in their next career step.  www.heartatworkassociates.com     


NESHCo Member

12 Month Emerging Leaders Program - $1200 per person (*$1300 for SHSMD non-members.) Tuition is payable over four quarters.

Membership in SHSMD is encouraged, as an element of the course is included with SHSMD membership, and will cost an additional $100 for non-members of SHSMD. (join SHSMD)

Tuition includes meals for in-person meeting, but overnight accommodations are extra for those who need them.


12 Month Emerging Leaders Program - $1400 per person (*$1500 for SHSMD non-members.) Tuition is payable over four quarters.

**Tuition includes a one-year NESHCo Membership. (join NESHCo)

Membership in SHSMD is encouraged, as an element of the course is included with SHSMD membership, and will cost an additional $100 for non-members of SHSMD. (join SHSMD)

Tuition includes meals for in-person meeting, but overnight accommodations are extra for those who need them.


Our program sponsors are an exclusive group of committed healthcare leaders who are dedicated to our mission. NESHCo recognizes and acknowledges their generous contributions, helping to underwrite and make this program possible.