Q&A with Aimee Ahmed, Morehouse School of Medicine
1. What is your current role at your institution/company?
I am the Senior Director for Philanthropy and Development Strategies, with a focus on our Research and Community Engagement portfolios.
2. How long have you been a NACRO member?
I have been a NACRO member since 2016. A respected colleague and friend, Julie Smith, was leading the Corporate & Foundation Relations Office at Georgia State University when I joined the School of Public Health there. She encouraged me to join NACRO because of the high quality of its professional development programming and networking. After spending a long stretch with the CDC Foundation, which was an incredible experience, but also one where you didn’t really have many similar organizations and peers to look to, the ability to do this as part of working with an academic institution has been incredibly valuable in my own growth and the learning I have been able to bring back to my employers and partners.
3. What do you enjoy most about your NACRO membership?
What I enjoy most about my NACRO membership is the feeling of being around the smartest kids in the class. By that, I mean that both the academic and corporate colleagues that participate in NACRO are at the forefront of academic corporate relations. Both members and the speakers they help us engage are seriously dedicated to innovative partnerships that serve their institutions now and position them as leaders for the future. That’s why I have enjoyed serving on the Curriculum subcommittee of the Conference Planning Committee heading into my third year. We are charged with including programs that address the larger conversations in our industry alongside offering professional development to colleagues at different stages of their corporate relations careers.
4. So far, what has been your greatest Corporate Relations success? What has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest Corporate Relations Success came when I was working with the CDC Foundation to address Hepatitis C during the time that curative therapeutics were on the horizon. We established the Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition (VHAC) which brought together multiple companies who had a vested interest in the area to work together with patient advocates and government public health officials. This work led to a comprehensive cohort study of people living with Hepatitis C, a study that allowed CDC to update its Hepatitis C testing guideline and an educational campaign. I share this example because it showed me the power of what could be achieved on a large scale when the public good aligns with corporate interest, and solidified my interest in continuing to do this in the health space.
My greatest challenge is one I have been working to overcome since joining the Morehouse School of Medicine two years ago. There are many companies that have diversity and inclusion as part of their mission, but the bulk of their engagement has been directed to establishing hiring opportunities to create a more diverse workforce. The challenge that I and my colleagues have faced is finding corporate partners who understand the need and future value in investing in these students, children, communities and institutions. I have been encouraged by the interest and deeper conversations that we have been having both in response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and the national conversations on racial and social justice. I think the partnerships we are starting to create now are more reflective of a holistic commitment to diversity and inclusion and have the ability to foster real social change. I think it’s also significant that NACRO leadership is focusing its attention here as well.
5. What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?
I take great enjoyment in being that person who can be relied on for solid recommendations. If I have found the best of something, whether it’s a pen, kitchen gadget or activity, I want to pass it along. This has come in particularly handy at NACRO Conferences, because I’m always seeking out great restaurants to try or experiences to have in our host cities.