Celebrating the Journey: Insights from the 2022-2023 Ferolyn Fellowship Graduates

by | Nov 2, 2023 | Ferolyn Fellowship, Fogarty Innovation

More than 60 attendees including alumni, medtech leaders and innovators, friends and family converged at Fogarty Innovation to celebrate the Ferolyn Fellowship’s (FF) class of 2022 – 2023: Amy Degenkolb, co-founder and CEO, Novocuff, Bev Tang, co-founder and CEO Starlight Cardio, and Mariel Bolhouse, co-founder and CEO, Taurus Endoscopy. 

Hosted by Angela Macfarlane, FF’s co-founder and guiding host mentor, the inaugural post-pandemic gathering was a celebration of the Fellowship’s evolution, vision and growing community. The event also included remarks from FF co-founder Fred St. Goar, MD, and Ferolyn’s sister Liz McDermott, who founded the FF to perpetuate Ferolyn’s approach to leadership, which was defined by inclusion, precision, curiosity and the power of leading with heart. 

In addition to Angela, this year’s host mentor team included Karen Long, senior managing director at KCK MedTech and Claudia Carasso, FF co-founder and leader of the Brandprint tm  personal leadership brand development program.

Speaking at the event, the graduating fellows captivated the audience with their authenticity and deeply personal stories. Below are their reflections on their experience:

Some alums have described a “before/after” experience in the Fellowship. How have you been changed by the experience?

Amy:  There’s definitely some alchemy going on in the fellowship. It has transformed the way I show up in the world. Now I show up as I am, not as I what I thought a CEO should be. It’s taught me to value all aspects of myself more fully and to embrace my experiences and expertise. It has also helped me interact more wholeheartedly and courageously with the world. An important part of this program is a big dig into excavating our inner blocks and fears that have kept us from showing up boldly. It’s really empowering to realize that the parts of my life that made me doubt myself are the exact things that give me strength today. 

Mariel: My experience completely changed my perspective on how to move through life and the way I interact with the world. In our weekly “what’s in your way” sessions, I realized there was a common thread in the answers, “me”! Having that recognition is a priceless gift because I realize that if I am the problem, I can also be the solution! I have been able to identify and shake up patterns and behaviors that I’ve carried with me my whole life and uncover things about myself that I hadn’t fully understood, like the nurturing energy that I could bring to my company. I realize that when I bring energy to something it can flourish. 

Bev: The biggest change for me was how supported I’ve felt in what Angela refers to as “the work”—the important, hard work of cultivating authentic leadership values. I have been extremely lucky to have numerous mentors and advisors on strategic, business, and technical aspects, but I have often felt a sense of loneliness when it came to the responsibility of true leadership, which to me means building and motivating a team, setting values, and creating the right culture. The fellowship allowed me to do this work every week with five amazing leaders. I had a front row seat to watching others solve hard problems. It has been an amazing experience that will affect the rest of my career!

We talk a lot about unmet needs in our work as innovators. How would you describe the unmet need the Fellowship addresses?

Amy:  Though the push to innovate and improve healthcare is strong in our industry, the underlying focus tends to be on numerical metrics: how much to fundraise, market size, etc. The Ferolyn Fellowship brings leadership and values to the forefront of the conversation. It helps us as leaders define the values that are most important to us and how we put those into action in our companies. These values are important because they become tools that navigate us through large and small decisions. They become the heartbeat or culture of the company that is intentional, not accidental. I know this experience will help me build a company that not only is making life-changing technologies, but also creating positive, life-changing environment for everyone who is part of it.

Mariel:  This is a unique environment that I had never encountered in my professional career. We did discuss the “what” to do and got practical in-context mentoring on our businesses, but the focus was primarily on the “how” and the “why” which is where the magic happens. We were simultaneously pushed to challenge old patterns and to experiment outside of our typical mode of leadership and supported fully in a way that made significant breakthroughs possible.

Bev:  I think that it pulls out the innate leader within each of us. Many leaders may feel like they have to, and may even get coached to, look, act, and respond in a certain way to fit the mold of what people think of in a stereotypical leader, but the Ferolyn Fellowship really flips this thinking on its head. You start to realize that that the only way to be a true leader is to be yourself, to accept yourself, to be vulnerable and authentic, to define and live by your core values, and to be passionate.

How would you describe the Fellowship community and how would you like to see it grow?

Amy: The Ferolyn Fellowship community is both a unique group of people and a feeling of belonging and acceptance. The community just organically shares common values. People in it believe in being open, collaborative, and the general idea that we can do more together than separate. I met some of the alumni for the first time recently over dinner and felt immediately like I belonged and that I could share deeply. 

Mariel: Even if you’re meeting an FF alum for the first time, interacting with Ferolyn Fellowship alums feels familiar, like family. There is no posturing or jockeying for social status, just an immediate desire to “go there;” to deeply understand and support each other in whatever is currently in our way. I cannot wait to join the ranks of the Ferolyn Family alums and be a part of the force for good shaping the leaders of tomorrow.

Bev: For me, now as alumni, it’s become a unique place where I immediately felt welcomed and understood, and I was able to connect deeply on leadership challenges with alumni I had just met. I felt safe being open with them, and they were equally open with me because we all are so appreciative of the experience we had in the fellowship and want to keep helping each other. 

The FF Advisory Board also plays an important role in mentoring and program development and includes Allan Will, Andrew Cleeland, Deb Kilpatrick, Fred St. Goar, Mike Buck, Jon Coe, Kate Garrett, and Maria Sainz. Fogarty Innovation is a partner of the Ferolyn Fellowship and provides access to educational events and resources.

“I have seen the Ferolyn Fellowship change lives, again and again, as it teaches leaders to be stewards of an authentic leadership imperative—one which they then model in their lives, in their companies, and in our community,” concluded Deb Kilpatrick, executive chair, Evidation Health.

About the Ferolyn Fellowship

The Ferolyn Fellowship was founded in 2016 to share and perpetuate the spirit and values of innovator and medtech leader, the late Ferolyn Powell. The Fellowship’s mission is to advance the authentic leadership imperative in healthcare through high-impact, in-context mentoring that changes lives. To date, the Fellowship, in partnership with Fogarty Innovation, has advanced 21 emerging leaders and innovators, all of whom are working to address important unmet needs in multiple therapeutic areas to transform healthcare for patients. Together they form a growing, vibrant and diverse community of thoughtful, aware leaders determined to deliver the next generation of healthcare innovation to patients.

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