Congratulations to Dr. Amelia F. Drake, the Newton D. Fischer Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, for receiving a 2019-20 University Award for the Advancement of Women!
Dr. Drake has been an unparalleled force in elevating the status of women in medicine on campus in sustainable ways. In her more than 30 years at UNC-Chapel Hill, she has steadfastly encouraged women leaders in both the medical and dental schools through institutional and departmental programming, mentoring, and advocacy. As one of the first women to fill a leadership role in the School of Medicine’s Dean’s Office more than ten years ago, she paved the way for future women leaders at the highest levels. As a surgeon in the Department of Otolaryngology, she has created a welcoming, encouraging environment for the women who came behind her. In the words of one of Amelia’s former mentored students, “She is a phenomenal educator, clinician, leader, and above all mentor, who has touched many lives”.
At the School of Medicine, Amelia has led major programs focused on promoting the upward mobility of women through leadership development and social support. In 2012, she co- founded the Academic Career Leadership Academy in Medicine (ACCLAIM), a year-long leadership and career development program for underrepresented junior faculty at the School of Medicine. In addition to running the program’s weekly sessions, Amelia meets with participants of the program throughout the academic year to provide on-going mentoring and support. Eighty-five percent of graduates of ACCLAIM have gone on to leadership roles within the institution and beyond, over half of which are women faculty.
Dr. Alice Chuang, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, stated that, “My success at UNC has been largely due to amazing mentorship and programs such as ACCLAIM. I was so excited to hear about this opportunity from Dr. Drake whom I viewed as a role model. She has always had great professional advice for me along the path and constantly supports women faculty for professional development!”
Recognizing that women in academic medicine tend to have smaller professional networks than male colleagues, and because there are fewer examples of women advancing to higher ranks, the mission of the Association of Professional Women in Medical Sciences (APWIMS) program, another program spearheaded by Dr. Drake, is to support equity, mentoring, networking, and professional development among its members. Past events include the Women in Medicine Conference, which highlighted Executive Dean Cristy Page, MD, as a role model of success and provided space for women at all levels in medicine (students, residents, and faculty of all ranks) to connect on topics unique to their experience.
In the male-dominated field of surgery, Dr. Drake served as a division chief in pediatric otolaryngology from 2001-2010, where she has been one of the longest-standing, clinically active women in surgery. She also served as the director of residency training from 2006-2011 in the Department of Otolaryngology, and she currently serves as director of the UNC Craniofacial Center at the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, a role she has held since 2000.
In addition to her administrative responsibilities, she founded and leads the Women in Otolaryngology (WIO) club. She regularly hosts meetings in her home where she facilitates peer support in a confidential setting for women in a heavily male- dominated (> 80%) discipline.
Among all these prestigious honors, Dr. Drake is also a loving wife, proud mother of two, twin sister, and great friend and colleague. Women seek her mentorship and approach her as a confidant, especially in cases that demand trust, professionalism, and compassion. She loves to provide morale-boosting events to her office colleagues by coordinating team-building events and bringing flowers to the office for everyone to enjoy. She even performs surgery on her pediatric patients’ stuffed animals to help children feel better during their procedures!
Dr. Drake has spent her career advocating for and supporting women. She has nominated countless others for prestigious leadership development programs, awards, and other opportunities, and her impact is felt greatly at UNC and especially within the medical community.