2014 Legacy Laureate Diane Peterson on “Taking the Lead” (video)


On October 24, 2014, Diane Peterson (HPM ’75) spoke with biostatistics chair Sally Morton and the Pitt Public Health community on “Taking the Lead,” the kickoff event of this year’s Pitt Public Health’s One Book, One Community initiative. Peterson had traveled from Houston to receive a 2014 University of Pittsburgh Legacy Laureate award.

Peterson spoke about leadership and her “circuitous route” to founding her health care consulting firm, D. Peterson & Associates. “There are opportunities to lead everywhere,” said Peterson, who looked to volunteer organizations for leadership roles early in her career. Refusing to accept that any barriers existed for her, she went on to hold several elected leadership positions before starting her own business. Then, at her secretary's suggestion, she began sending mystery patients into hospitals to test customer service, increasing the recognition of her firm across the country.

Peterson also spoke about the importance of mentoring, building a network, lifelong learning, and strong ethics. She addressed all aspects of leadership from payroll and finance to hiring employees and setting up office space. Carefully picking your bosses; treating everyone with dignity, respect, and fairness; and not leading by fear and intimidation are just a few of the lessons she shared.

After earning a Master of Public Health, Peterson began her career as vice president of Sewickley Valley Hospital, then executive vice president of corporate development for St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital and Texas Heart Institute in Houston’s Texas Medical Center. She went on to become vice president of marketing and public affairs for Memorial Care Systems in Houston before starting her company. 

The Legacy Laureate award has been bestowed since 2000 by the University of Pittsburgh to honor alumni who demonstrate the pinnacle of achievement in professional and civic leadership.

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