Commonwealth Medicine Executive Vice Chancellor Lisa M. Colombo, DNP, MHA, RN, is a recipient of the 2021 Worcester Business Journal Outstanding Women in Business Award, recognized for her distinguished career and leadership rooted in patient care, quality and safety, and operational management that has brought extraordinary growth to Commonwealth Medicine in its service to the residents of Massachusetts and beyond.
The Outstanding Women in Business Award honors the achievements of strong, talented, and remarkable women who are making their mark in their industries and communities. Colombo and the seven other recipients of this year’s award will be honored at Mechanics Hall in Worcester on November 4, 2021.
Colombo recently marked three years at the helm of Commonwealth Medicine, a period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to its challenges. “Under Dr. Colombo’s direction, Commonwealth Medicine has been involved in more than 50 pandemic-related projects, staying true to its mission and vision to advance the optimal health and well-being of the diverse communities we serve,” said Michael F. Collins, MD, Chancellor of UMass Chan Medical School, in his nomination. Commonwealth Medicine is the public service consulting and operations division of UMass Chan Medical School.
These projects include forming the Medical School’s vital partnership with the Worcester Division of Public Health, leading to further collaboration with the City of Worcester, Saint Vincent Hospital, and Worcester State University (WSU) and the establishment of the only large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site in Central Massachusetts.
Through the UMass Chan Medical School Vaccine Corps, Colombo and her team recruited more than 7,000 volunteers to help vaccinate people around Massachusetts. The Vaccine Corps brought 1,700 volunteers to the WSU site alone, helping to administer 83,000 vaccines in just four months.
In March 2020, shortly after Governor Charlie Baker called for a state of emergency, state officials appealed to Colombo for help at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, where COVID-19 was spreading uncontrollably and killing dozens of veterans. As incident command leader, Colombo and a colleague responded immediately and remained embedded full-time at the Soldiers’ Home for several weeks, helping to develop and implement new safety protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19 and create safe and comfortable living quarters for veterans and their caregivers.
Colombo and her team have expanded that safety work in Massachusetts – for which she and her team were honored with the 2020 Commonwealth Citation for Outstanding Performance – and around the country. “Four other Commonwealth Medicine teams under Dr. Colombo’s direction were also recognized with citations for their extraordinary efforts in helping the state meet the health and financial needs of its most vulnerable citizens, and one team leader was part of a multi-agency team that received the coveted Manuel Carballo Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service,” Chancellor Collins noted.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has waned, the health inequities it exposed have not, and Colombo continues to prioritize advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Commonwealth Medicine and university-wide. She is the executive sponsor of the Commonwealth Medicine Cultural Diversity Committee and served as the co-lead of the search committee for UMass Chan Medical School’s current vice-chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion.
“Under Dr. Colombo’s leadership, the Commonwealth Medicine senior leadership team recently completed a pilot program, the 21-Day Anti-Racism Challenge, to further build a culture of respect, and move us toward a more inclusive community for our employees and the people we serve,” Chancellor Collins said.
Colombo has also served as a member of the executive board of the Organization of Nurse Leaders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and is a member of the American Organization of Nursing Leadership (formerly the American Organization of Nurse Executives) and the American College of Healthcare Executives. She serves as an alumni representative to the Board of Trustees of WSU, which recognized her with an honorary Doctor of Science in Nursing degree in 2020 when she gave the University’s commencement address.