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What Was Your Path: Nicolette Louissaint

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Name: Nicolette Louissaint, Ph.D.
Title: Executive Director, Healthcare Ready

How did you choose your career path?
I have always been a nerd, and my interests drew me to STEM fields. I eventually pursued education in biomedical sciences (clinical pharmacology), and decided to use my scientific training to influence global health policy. That interest in health policy exposed me to disaster science and healthcare resilience, which led me down this path.

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
It was not easy to pursue STEM education, especially at the graduate level. However, that training taught me a lot about being able to remain committed to your dreams, and draw support from those who want to see you succeed. In my professional career, it was difficult to transition from the lab environment to the policy world (federal government). I overcame these challenges by reading everything I could and overpreparing until I was comfortable with the subject matter. Focusing on learning and becoming the strongest subject matter expert and communicator opened a lot of doors for me – I was able to understand the complex issues and communicate them in layman’s terms.

What lessons did you learn?
I learned that being creative helped me find solutions to the challenges I’ve faced – or even to find ways to improve on things. Being diligent in finding solutions and continuing to think outside of the box have been valuable lessons in my career.

How do you maintain your passion for the job?
With such an intensive cycle of disaster responses, it is easy to remain focused on the mission and the ability to help patients during crises. Fatigue, on the other hand, can set in after a series of continuous activations. Learning how to balance my passion with self-care and pacing has been pretty important.

What’s next for you, personally or professionally?
Right now, I’m focused on growing the nonprofit that I lead – Healthcare Ready – as we enter the 12th year of operations. We continue to expand our capacity to deal with disasters and disease outbreaks on the horizon, while still supporting recovery efforts in places like Houston (after Hurricane Harvey) and Puerto Rico/US Virgin Islands (after Hurricane Maria). As for me, I’m hoping to find time for a great vacation or two in the next few months!

What advice do you have for younger women hoping to follow your career path?
In my professional career, it has been a challenge to often be the youngest in the room, or the only woman or person of color. While it is a tremendous challenge, it can also feel like a lot of responsibility. I have learned that the best way to navigate these spaces is to stay true to who I am. It can be difficult at times, conforming can feel like the path of least resistance, but bringing your full self “to the table” can be transformative for you and those around you.

BIO BOX
NAME: Nicolette Louissaint

Personal: Avid baker and yogini, self-proclaimed bibliophile! Supporter of the Greater Baltimore Urban League (the young professional auxiliary, the Greater Baltimore Leadership Association).

Education:

  • BS, Chemical Engineering (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • BS, Biological Sciences (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • PhD, Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences (Johns Hopkins University)

Professional:

  • Member of the Leadership Advisory Council for Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security.
  • Op-ed contributor, The Hill and UPTOWN.

 Three things most people don’t know about me:

  1. I’m the first person in my family born in the United States.
  2. I’m a huge fan of WWE wrestling!
  3. I love cheesy 80s songs.

This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Path To Excellence: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Path to Excellence magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Path to Excellence.

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