Now in its sixth year, the Ferolyn Fellowship continues its strong trajectory, and in a recent lively virtual event it celebrated the success of its most recent class of graduates, Holly Rockweiler, Ayo Roberts and Rachel Kuperman, and welcomed the incoming Fellows for 2021-2022.
The Ferolyn Fellowship was co-founded in 2016 by Ferolyn Powell’s sisters, Liz McDermott and Marian Powell Fogarty Innovation and Fogarty Innovation’s vice chairman Fred St Goar and board member Allan Will. Liz also collaborated with Ferolyn’s close colleagues Angela Macfarlane and Claudia Carasso to establish and build the program.
They wanted to honor, share and perpetuate Ferolyn’s approach to leadership, which was rooted in strength, tenacity, empathy and compassion—along with her commitment to mentoring, which she generously shared with many talented emerging healthcare leaders.
“While it’s a bittersweet day as Ferolyn is not here to celebrate with us, it’s incredibly rewarding to see how this program has become such a strong and highly successful expression of her legacy,” said Liz, urging the graduates to embrace their contributions and roles in continuing its success.
To date, this highly impactful mentoring program has served 15 fellows who have joined at various points in their educational careers, from those with bachelor’s degrees to PhDs and MDs. Twelve of the participants were either founders or co-founders of companies working on innovative technologies addressing a variety of therapeutic areas, including women’s health, men’s health, neonatal care, epilepsy, structural heart and pulmonary disease. Others are successfully working in health and medtech venture and consulting.
“It’s been a joy to work so closely with colleagues who knew Ferolyn so well and have brought her spirit into the program,” she continued. “Fogarty Innovation has supported the Fellowship since inception and their support has been invaluable. It’s exciting to see the type of talent the Fellowship has attracted and the broad range of clinical needs that are being addressed in such a short period of time.”
Angela Macfarlane, host mentor and co-developer of curriculum and host mentoring initiatives reflected, “It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to work with the Ferolyn Fellows and create a unique experience that reflects our mission of invested, in-context mentoring that changes lives,” said Angela. “With each class of fellows, we learn so much about how powerful the imperative of authentic leadership really is. We’re continuing to apply those learnings to new program initiatives to broaden the impact of what Ferolyn taught us.”
One of the highlights of the event is hearing the Fellows share their journey and experiences:
Dr. Rachel Kuperman, co-founder and CEO of Eysz
During her Fellowship, Rachel raised over $1 million in funding from sources that included angel investors, foundations and government grants, doubled her team size, began enrollment in a multi-site clinical trial, and formed partnerships with several pharmaceutical companies.
One of Rachel’s goals was to hone her skills as a CEO, and the program helped her learn how to lead from her core values and articulate her vision for Eysz. These strengths will be important for fundraising, attracting top talent to work for the startup and developing a strong go-to-market strategy. The company also developed a new product, which will allow Eysz to get to market faster and impact patients sooner. “Ultimately our goal is to get FDA clearance and really change the way we manage people with epilepsy. I’m incredibly grateful to have been included in this Fellowship,” she said.
“I’m convinced there’s nothing Rachel can’t do,” said Kate, her host mentor. “We made a great connection, and I’m truly impressed by how much she has accomplished during this short period of time, especially during the challenging times of the pandemic.”
Ayo Roberts, Medical Technology Consultant
“Ayo was absolutely fearless in the exploration of her own personal traits, strengths and goals. She was incredibly open to this process, and as a result, completely pivoted her career pathway,” said Claudia, her host mentor. During the fellowship Ayo began building a growing consulting business, adding firms such as Sonder Capital to her list of clients.
The program helped Ayo lean into her innate curiosity and focus on advancing her mission of improving patient outcomes. She was able to gain a broader perspective on her career and pursue opportunities that she may have shied away from in the past. “I have really enjoyed working on a variety of projects with investors and startup clients, and am excited to continue exploring how I can support innovators in charting their paths forward,” she said. “This has truly been a life-changing experience, and I’m so grateful for the connections I’ve made, the support of the Advisory Committee, getting to work in-depth with Claudia, Angela and Kate, along with the chance to learn more about the personal impact of Ferolyn’s leadership on so many in the community.”
Holly Rockweiler, CEO and co-founder of Madorra Health
During her Fellowship, Holly’s company, Madorra won FDA Breakthrough Status and balanced running a key clinical trial during COVID.
Holly came to the program based on its strong reputation via past Fellows and open to its possibilities. The program quickly exceeded her expectations as Angela worked closely with her to lead the company as her authentic self. “I’m so appreciative to have been part of this program that has made such an impact on me. I’ve learned that there are many different styles of leadership and to embrace my unique style, and I now feel even more passionate to fight for women’s health moving forward,” said Holly.
“It has been a privilege and a joy over this past year to see Holly fully embrace the opportunity to grow as an authentic leader,” said Angela. “I watched her put into action her insights and reshape how she tackled challenges and drove to milestones.”
A remembrance of Ferolyn
Fred wrapped up the event by recalling Ferolyn’s passion for the industry and her extraordinary compassion towards the people around her, as she deeply cared for the grander mission to vastly improve patient care and people’s lives. “It’s truly wonderful to see that spirit embodied in this program’s participants and now graduates, and I am confident you are going to make a very positive difference in patients’ lives,” said he said.
Introducing the class of 2021-2022
As the graduates shared their highlights, the Ferolyn Fellowship Executive Committee announced the three candidates who were selected as the sixth class, whom we will meet in future issues.
After a competitive and in-depth interview process, the new Fellows selected for 2021-2022 are:
- Dimitri Augustin, MD – Dimitri is a nephrologist, who did his fellowship and post-doctoral research work at Stanford and is a Stanford Biodesign alumni. He is the director of Medical Affairs at ReCor Medical, a commercial stage medical device company that designs and manufactures a proprietary ultrasound ablation system for renal denervation for the treatment of hypertension.
- Greta Meyer, BS – Greta, a former world-class lacrosse player and graduate of the Stanford Design School, where she and her co-founder formed Sequel, to advance innovative idea in women’s health. Greta is passionate about their first product, a re-engineered tampon, and how it resonates strongly with users.
- Orestis Vardoulis Ph.D. – Orestis is the CEO of Zeit Medical, which was formed at Stanford BioDesign, and a recent graduate of Y Combinator. Zeit Medical designed a smart wearable that comfortably monitors the brain’s electric activity during sleep to help prevent stroke damage. Every minute a stroke goes untreated, two million brain cells are lost, resulting in further disability.
About the Ferolyn Fellowship
Founded in 2015 in tribute to Ferolyn Powell, CEO of the start-up Evalve (MitraClip, Abbott Labs) and a dynamic leader in the medtech startup world. Ferolyn’s leadership journey was defined by inclusion, precision, curiosity and learning the power of leading with a whole heart. The program supports rising leaders with a strong passion and aptitude to transform healthcare. Its mission is to provide high impact, in-context mentorship that changes lives.
Participants undergo an immersive 10-month program of customized mentoring and personal development around values-based leadership, personal brand development, and guest mentors on topics such as venture funding, company pitching/storytelling, and clinical/regulatory challenges. The fellowship is run with the key support of Fogarty Innovation, which provides fellows with access to educational programming and team resources.