Katherine McCormack is the retired Director of Emergency Management for the City of Hartford, CT. Prior to assuming EM responsibilities, Katherine held the position of Hartford’s Director of Health and served in that capacity for eight years.
As a loaned executive to the City of Hartford from St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center, Katherine served as the interim Director of Health. The City of Hartford ultimately hired Katherine and challenged her to change the face of public health and lead Hartford’s Community Health Partnership. Prior to moving to emergency management, Katherine and her partners completed the third Hartford Health Survey and the second Hartford Homeless Health Survey using population data to support the direction of resources. Public health initiatives had measurable outcomes based on a strategic health improvement plan and the Healthy People 2010 objectives.
Ms. McCormack launched her public health career in Waterbury, Connecticut where she began as a public health nurse and retired as the Director of Public Nursing supervising school health, maternal and child health and communicable disease control programs.
Ms. McCormack is an accomplished healthcare executive. Her leadership strengths include development of multiorganization coalitions, crisis management to include bioterrorism threats and operations management, department and fiscal restructuring and oversight. Her funding applications on behalf of the City of Hartford secured awards that included the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) and the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). Ms. McCormack is currently the Director of the Capitol Region Medical Reserve Corps. Ms. McCormack was recently hired by the University of New Haven to teach master level online public safety courses.
Ms. McCormack holds a B.S. in nursing from Russell Sage College and a Master of Public Health from Yale University. She was recognized in 2001 as a member of Yale’s Public Service Honor Roll. Katherine completed the inaugural Health Care Master Exercise Practitioner (MEP) health care program in April 2006 and currentlycollaborates with several private healthcare management companies (Tetra Tech and Witt O’Brien) on public safety training and exercises.
What skills and characteristics are needed to be successful in your field?
I have been a “public servant” the majority of my career; however, today I am a private consultant representing a sum of my forty plus years of education, training, and employment. As an independent contractor, I market myself as a public health/public safety specialist. Although I have an active CT nursing license, I have been employed as an administrator and I do not suggest I have current clinical nursing skills. My license represents a nursing education and early years of nursing practice which has allowed me to understand nursing theory, interpret medical data and assess clinical operations.
My retirement goal was to be a public health/public safety planner/exercise controller/evaluator who has a successfully organized departments, programs, projects, and people in for-profit, non-profit, and government environments. My background, reputation, flexibility, and results oriented productivity are reasons I continue to have a successful rewarding career.
My field(s) requires having a strong, well-maintained network across public health/public safety systems that has proven success and outcomes. I am recognized for being fiscally responsible and capable of working independently in formal and informal settings. I have successfully managed multiple projects, have met deadlines, and with my peers and partners have published results of the work.
I am passionate about the work I have done and the work I am doing. I embrace change and I love the flexibility of having multiple projects that have something and nothing to do with each other. I recommend being open to change, embracing change and seeing opportunities as healthy challenges. I have always prided myself as being a confident leader, a no nonsense decision-maker, who accepted responsibility for success and failure. I learned that my staff, my team, respected me because they knew what to expect, no surprises. Most of all, I valued staff and I treated them with respect.
I have been fortunate to have worked with and met extraordinary people. I have traveled through-out the country. I have visited (attending conferences) and have had assignments in many of the major U. S. cities. I enjoyed “going” downtown at lunchtime and watching and listening to the people. I learned the demographics of communities and the challenges of living and working in particular cities and neighborhoods. My trips and visits added to my capability of assessing populations and characteristics of populations one of the core functions of public health.
I always believed in the importance of knowing personal strengths and weaknesses. Thus, I have surrounded myself with trusted individuals who compliment my skills and limitations. I consider myself to be an individual who sees the “big picture” and then I remind myself not to miss or overlook critical details. In my field(s) details are critical to maintaining health and safety. I have extremely high standards, always have, and I realize the importance of not imposing my standards on people and situations.
What advice would you give someone who is starting in your field?
Know who you are and be true to yourself
Education, never stop learning both formal and informal; learn as much as you can about many people, places, and things
Have integrity and do not compromise values
Go through the open doors and keep an open mind
Explore different types of opportunities
Build a network of people who share your vision
Be a part of the communities you live and work in and never stop giving back
Pay attention to personal health
Be prepared for personal life changes and always have Plan B
What do you like most about what you do? What are the challenges you face?
Today I work when I want to work. I accept work that I enjoy without being accountable for outcomes that have insufficient resources to produce the outcomes I was hired to produce. Today I truly like the people I work for and with and Ihave a combination of long and short term projects/jobs. Not having a “regular” job with set hours allows me to be available to watch my grandchildren on sick days or days off from school. I am able to attend their sporting events or school productions. I am free to volunteer as the Director of the Capitol Region Medical Reserve Corps; I volunteer at a local hospital cuddling babies who need to be held;and I have availability to play golf, exercise or read a book. Today I am kinder to myself and I value free time.
The biggest challenge for me is aging and the possibility of failing health. I have always been independent and capable of providing for and taking care of myselfand my family. Slowing down for now is not an option. I stay active and involved in my community and with my family. I work because I choose to work and I feel good about myself because people and organizations choose to hire me. I continue to contribute to my community. I am a hospital corporator; I volunteer on amagnet school advisory board and I serve on a non-profit board that represents the people who live in my community. I belong to and contribute time and energy to my professional organizations. I have been a Russell Sage College Class Agent for more than 40 years and I continue as an active Board member of the Yale Club of Hartford. I am adding teaching to my list of “what next” which I anticipate starting in the fall of 2014.
What is one motto that has served you well in your life and career? Why?
I was pleased to learn that when several of my employees were asked for a word or two to describe Katherine McCormack the response was that I was fair. I accept that as a great compliment. I always tried to lead by example and to conduct business in a professional manner. Being described as fair makes me believe I have accomplished my goal.
Personally, I wanted to provide for my family, to make education a priority and at the end of the day to know that I have made a difference in the lives of people by providing opportunities that have been afforded to me. I have never needed or desired to be rich and famous. I live a very simple life and I believe my fame and fortune comes from watching a young boy grow into a wonderful son, husband, father and human being.