Now in its seventh year, the Ferolyn Fellowship continues to thrive. The program, which celebrates the legacy of the late Ferolyn Powell, recently held a virtual graduation ceremony for its 2021-2022 class, which included medtech professionals and entrepreneurs Dimitri Augustin, Greta Meyer and Orestis Vardoulis. The upcoming eighth class was also announced.
“We continue to miss Ferolyn’s advice, laughter and passion for the medtch community and life,” said Liz McDermott, Ferolyn’s sister and co-founder of the Fellowship. “Every year I look forward to this gathering where we celebrate the graduating fellows and hear about their extraordinary journeys, while keeping Ferolyn’s spirit front and center.”
The Ferolyn Fellowship executive committee encompasses Liz, Marian Powell, also sister to the late Ferolyn and co-founder of the program; and Marga Ortigas-Wedekind, who represents Fogarty Innovation. The three host mentors include Angela Macfarlane, Claudia Carasso and Kate Garrett, who is being replaced by Karen Long in 2023. The advisory committee is led by industry luminaries such as Andrew Cleeland, Allan Will and Fred St Goar.
Highlights from the 2022 Ferolyn Fellows
Dimitri Augustin, MD, director of medical affairs at ReCor Medical
“I’ve never met a more multifaceted individual. He is a nephrologist, an innovator, and a leader who successfully led the completion of ReCor’s pivotal clinical trial. He is also an avid painter and now a new dad,” said Claudia Carasso, Dimitri’s host mentor. “His commitment to the Fellowship never wavered, despite a busy work and family life.”
“The Fellowship has been a great place to grow and accomplish goals that I didn’t even know I had,” said Dimitri. He learned to adapt to any situation and seize opportunities when they present themselves. “You hear all the ‘nos’ when you’re pitching an idea, but I’ve remained resolute, and my drive toward finding ways to bridge my love of nephrology to medical device innovation has never faltered.”
When his daughter was born five weeks early, Dimitri recognized the parallels between how the best-laid plans can go awry and the unpredictability of a startup company. Throughout the nearly 10 weeks she spent in the NICU, his thoughts continually gravitated toward the unmet clinical needs he was experiencing, which gave him even more motivation to continue to innovate in his field.
Greta Meyer, co-founder at Sequel
“Greta is a warrior who combines discipline, determination, creativity and an openness that’s rare to find all in one person,” said Claudia. “She reminds me of Ferolyn, in the sense that what she is doing with her company, Sequel is audacious, ambitious, and meeting a real need for women.”
Greta started benefitting from the Fellowship even during the interview process. “I received some very blunt feedback and action items right then and there, which gave me a glimpse into what this Fellowship would entail and the kind of candor that was valued in this group,” she said. That assessment carried on throughout the program, where her mentor Kate, as well as Angela and Claudia helped her work through understanding her role as CEO, including how to shape the right team.
“This Fellowship helps you become a better leader, not because they give you a roadmap, but by engaging in collaborative conversations where you can ask hard questions. We became a very tight-knit group where we learned from each other and watched each other grow, which has been very special.”
Orestis Vardoulis, co-founder and CEO of Zeit Medical
Soon after Orestis joined the Fellowship, he and host mentor Angela Macfarlane addressed the start-up’s business model and clinical trials. “I watched Orestis grow the company in a way that was consistent with his values, hierarchy and talent, while engaging in hard conversations about learning to trust his gut as he experienced strategic challenges,” she said.
“As a first time CEO, I can’t stress enough how valuable the Ferolyn Fellowship, combined with the great mentoring of Angela, Claudia and Kate, has been for my personal growth and the success of our team,” said Orestis. The focus on his personal brand and leadership values proved to be invaluable while navigating tough situations at Zeit Medical, for example identifying a new service provider after negotiations with the initial one broke down. “You have to be transparent and open, but also agile enough to move in a different direction when needed,” said Orestis.
Zeit has gained significant traction over the past year, expanding its team and launching its first large clinical study, a major milestone. “I can’t thank the Ferolyn Fellowship and Fogarty Innovation team enough for the role they played in all the advancements we have made. I look forward to staying in touch with our current, past and future Fellowship classes and sharing any insights that may be helpful,” Orestis said.
After the graduating fellows shared their perspective, Angela introduced the Fellowship’s new host mentor, Karen Long, whose deep experience in the industry includes her current roles as managing director of KCK MedTech and board member of several portfolio companies. “Beyond her credentials, this is a person who I wanted to have as a host mentor for many years because of her passion for the industry, and how she really cares about not only the products and the company she’s involved with, but also the people,” Angela said.
“I am truly honored to be a host mentor for the Ferolyn Fellowship,” said Karen. “The opportunity to mentor happened at just the right time. I was reflecting on ways I could make a greater impact on others. I didn’t expect it to be in the same arena as my professional work! But as I always say, the signs are there, it’s just whether or not you choose to see them.”
New class poised to make their indelible mark
As the graduates shared their highlights, it was also a time to welcome the new class, about whom we will learn more in future issues. When introducing them, Angela said, “I don’t think graduation is the hardest part for me because I know this is a lifelong connection. The hardest part is selection because people put their heart and soul into the nominations, then we meet the candidates and learn more about their needs, the perspectives and accomplishments. Narrowing these impressive candidates down to three is always very difficult.”
After a very competitive interview process, the 2023 Ferolyn Fellows are:
- Mariel Bolhouse, CEO and co-founder of Tarous Endoscopy; and VP at Inventure Group
- Amelia Degenkolb, CEO and co-founder of Novocuff
- Beverly Tang, CEO and co-founder of Starlight Cardiovascular
Fred St Goar wrapped up the graduation with his own words of wisdom. “Throughout this event, I’ve been smiling as I think about how the Fellowship has evolved in the last six years and what has been achieved in improving patients’ lives. I’m always so impressed because the Fellows who come in are clearly remarkably accomplished, and yet still absorb all they can from the mentors.” He also reminded them that they were now part of the family for life. “All these faces you’re seeing on the screen here—every one of them will respond when you reach out.”
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. Ferolyn’s approach to leadership was defined by inclusion, precision, curiosity and the power of leading with heart. 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 18 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.