By Ameera Steward
The Birmingham Times
Mona Fouad, MD, a leading medical professional at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and beyond, has a passion that is contagious, say those who work with and for her.
“Because of that [passion], … there’s a lot of loyalty,” said Evelyn Jones, who serves as an inclusion equity advisor and the administrative director of UAB’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. “People work really hard because … she works hard. They see that, and they see how much she brings to it. You want to bring just as much to the table as she does. I think her people make her want to do better, and I think she makes her people want to do better.”
Fouad is a professor in and director of the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine (DOPM), founding director of the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC), and senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion for the UAB School of Medicine; she also has been recognized internationally and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
Tiffany Osborne, MHRC Community Engagement Director, said Fouad truly cares about the individuals living in the underserved communities.
“She fights, … she plans, she strategizes, she prays for them. She gets it, and she knows the messaging that will resonate with potential funders and in grant opportunities that will bring in resources to help us impact those communities. It’s not just work for her. … It’s her life’s passion. It’s her wheelhouse. To work with somebody whose passions align so innately with mine makes it not feel like work.”
Fouad has received tens of millions of dollars in funding and served on dozens of national and international committees. She [also] has published more than 130 peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, and abstracts; delivered more than 50 conference presentations and lectures; and led more than 50 research projects as principal investigator.”
MHRC Training Program Director Ann Smith, who has worked with Fouad for about 18 years, said, “What makes [Fouad] special is her vision and ability to communicate her vision and goals and her positive attitude to encourage us to implement the work.
“I admire her tenacity and her ability to keep going over the long haul. Despite barriers, setbacks, and … changes to the course, she keeps going and keeps all of us going. Regarding the training pipeline, I think she has had a huge influence on helping to increase the number of underrepresented minorities to have progressed through the educational pipeline—undergraduate … to graduate work to doctoral degrees and research.”
Theresa Wallace, DOPM Program Director II, said Fouad has devoted her entire professional career to developing life-changing, life-saving programs designed to “reach unreached” and vulnerable segments of the community.
“What I particularly admire about Fouad’s line of research is that she actively engages the end users and/or intended beneficiaries of her research in the planning, implementation and evaluation phases of her project,” said Wallace, who has known Fouad since 1999. “By leveraging our existing and ongoing dialogue with the community, we are implementation ready and poised to serve as a model for other states in the region, positioning UAB as a national leader in population health.”
Laura Heider, MHRC Communications Manager, said Fouad’s work can be seen in “actual lives of real people. [Her work] is not abstract, … not theoretical; it’s real, it’s concrete, and it’s immediate. People who are living right now are enjoying the fruits of her labor. Their lives are better because of the work she does.”
Heider added that Fouad “saw something in me that I didn’t see, and then she empowered me to learn how to do it. I think it’s very unique to find a boss who sees things in you that you don’t necessarily see. Since I started working for her, I’ve gotten a Master of Business Administration degree, something I didn’t have when I came to work for her. She made it possible for me to go back to school and pursue graduate education, and she’s really encouraged me to use those skills. I mean, she took me out for a celebratory lunch after I graduated. I just don’t know very many bosses that care about their employees on a personal level like that.”
The UAB Reporter (https://www.uab.edu/reporter/people/awards-honors/item/8645-mona-fouad-is-2018-distinguished-faculty-lecturer) contributed to this article.