How Black Role Models and Colleagues Came to Help Shape the Future of Healthcare Cybersecurity

Sherri Douville
8 min readFeb 19, 2023

With the Non-Traditional Path to Occasional University Lecturing

I have grown tremendously from teaching cybersecurity to black and women board directors at the Silicon Valley Executive Center at Leavey School of Business at SCU. It has been synergistic with the book series we lead at Medigram to rapidly and efficiently upskill our ecosystem and industries. This article is inspired by coauthors who have asked how to get involved in lecturing in the University setting. I provide the link to apply to advise and potentially qualify to facilitate at the bottom of this article.

Our network led by the Medigram team and several of the top people in healthcare cybersecurity are building a groundbreaking cybersecurity handbook for board directors published by top academic publisher and the undisputed leader in healthcare IT, Taylor &Francis. This is the story of how black leaders helped inspire us and the journey there. For background context, Corporate board directors are struggling to oversee the rapidly evolving threat of cyberattacks, according to a report from Diligent Institute, which specializes in corporate governance issues. They consider cybersecurity their most challenging board responsibility.

Image Credit Bob Zukis, DDN

Teaching cybersecurity to diverse corporate directors through the Silicon Valley Executive Center at SCU happened over the course of a 12-year journey. It’s a story of campus re-connection, friendship, sponsorship, luck, and serendipity.

I had initially taught my first time in 2017 (where I met our Medigram CTO/CSO and international cybersecurity thought leader, Eric Svetcov who was also teaching there) continuing education, CE for Certified Information Systems Security Professional CISSP at ISC2 and found that enjoyable. I had also given several other lectures and moderated or participated in various industry discussions. This way when a lecturing opportunity arose in the University setting, I wasn’t intimidated, it was a no brainer.

The journey began originally when I earned a multidisciplinary STEM degree at Santa Clara University. Many years later, I reconnected with the school when I joined the Board of Fellows at SCU. I was sponsored into the board by mentors, Maria and Wim Roelandts who has been coach to 35 international CEOs. Through the regular meetings and annual Golden Circle endowment for scholarships fundraiser, we met many friends affiliated with the University. Unlike public schools, private schools have small communities that largely drive, govern, and help fund the University enterprise. Some hundreds of officers/staff, faculty, board members, and alumni families, some for multiple generations. Other interesting county, state, and federal ties exist, but I’m not sure how much of that is specific to SCU. I am certain that all these details are contextual to the nature of private schools which I like for their openness, striking multi context ambition, intellectual drive and flexibility paired with a rich heritage of philanthropic impact. I’m sure top public schools have many merits including a typically greater quantity of research output. Of course, there’s variance in both types. It really is apples and pears.

One advisor persona is the former Dean of the Business school, Caryn Beck Dudley. I met Caryn through a dear friend, Kristi Markkula Bowers who I met through my sponsors at the board of fellows. Kristi is on the SCU “big board” of the trustees who hold fiduciary responsibility for the University. The Board of Fellows to be clear, is a fun raising board. We don’t do operations or govern much. We attend meetings to learn about what’s happening on campus, raise money, and have fun. That’s it. Caryn, then the business school dean who is now an international leader of business school standards as the CEO of the business school accreditation body to top B schools, AACSB got me involved with the Women’s Corporate Board Readiness program. When I was asked to advise the program, I said, “why me?” and Caryn is one of those people who doesn’t have hearing for the word no. (I mean this with love and respect). So, there I was advising. Thank God I did this so I could meet a life-changing and incredible contributor to our work, Marketing genius, Allison J. Taylor. I was assigned to advise Allison and now she advises me back, including being largely responsible for the fact that Mobile Medicine, our first book remains a Kindle medical Informatics best-seller with Advanced Health Technology launching into the less than 1/2 of 1% top rankings of all books on Amazon on day 1. But I digress.

After I had advised WCBR a few times, the inaugural director of the program, and Nike Global innovation dynamo, Theresa Strickland asked if I could chat about the possibility of adding cybersecurity curriculum. I said, OK. Then they asked, what would it entail? I said, well I’m more of a general manager, GM. Let me check with a head of privacy and compliance and a CISO. Thankfully, Lucia Savage, who has been referred to as the greatest of all time, GOAT privacy counsel and Eric Svetcov were glad to help and together, we designed and launched the first curriculum for Women’s Corporate Board Readiness.

Right after the George Floyd tragedy and when the Black Board Director’s program came online and I was asked to advise, I jumped at the chance. After a few sessions, they added cybersecurity and the program founders asked if I would kick it off. I was honored to. I will teach my 7th cybersecurity board class in March, the 4th cybersecurity class to Black Board Directors at SCU.

Unlike WCBR where I designed the team, for BCBR I defer to university program staff who select co-leads who are alumni from the BCBR community, such as rising star in Digital and Cybersecurity corporate governance Anita Lynch and cybersecurity thought leader and the industry’s funniest man, Keyaan Williams, founder and Managing Director of CLASS-LLC, the Cybersecurity professional services firm. We really lucked out because unlike a lot of Nonprofits, the founders, Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., and Dennis Lanham are real world class operators. I’m thrilled to help build the most informed, cyber literate and prepared board director candidates in the market who happen to be of color and women. The Cybersecurity Handbook for Board Directors is part of that mission and will also have a much broader reach. The cohorts have shown me what board directors wish to know and need to know.

One of the other program advisors, a Fortune 100 board chair, just finished her master’s in Cybersecurity at NYU and her thesis was on board gaps in cybersecurity knowledge. The interaction with her informed the foundation of the Table of Contents for the forthcoming Cybersecurity Handbook for Boards built together with many of the top minds in healthcare cybersecurity. My time spent with women and then black board directors and students of board governance at SCU largely inspired this book. The team around the book is having a dramatic impact on several parts of the healthcare IT ecosystem in its effectiveness in building leaders. Building a graduate STEM textbook is an outstanding test of general management acumen, in particular if you pair that team with dozens of working group members. Standing up and running successful multidisciplinary work groups for alignment and execution with shared ownership is what increasingly separates success from failure in most fields related to healthcare.

I’m thrilled that our board advisor and serial CFO with hundreds of financing deals to his name, Tom Bondi also lectures and advises the program on the unique challenges of innovation finance. It’s fun to support the program together. Many gifts have manifested from being involved such as re-connecting with the legendary Silicon Valley leader and seasoned hospital board director, Caretha Coleman.

Journey Elements:

1) Institutional relationship

2) Entry point/sponsor

3) The bridge to the sponsor

4) An arc of increasing engagement between me and the institution over 12 years

5) Recognizing uniquely and highly skilled university staff and faculty and partnering/capitalizing on that

6) Building/leveraging teams

7) Alignment with my work colleagues at Medigram and in my personal life with my spouse, Dr. Arthur Douville with shared mission and values.

Learn more about BCBR at https://lnkd.in/e3ETN3xH

BCBR history

https://lnkd.in/eAm7YipG

With all organizational affiliations, I am extremely selective due to my focus on efficiency of impact and time budgeting. I want to contribute what I can uniquely do but I do not want to do the things I believe the staff would be doing. I encourage you to be discerning as opportunities arise and validate that it will be rewarding, and scope will be represented accurately in fine detail. This is important because nearly all organizations, both “for- profit” and Nonprofit organizations are extremely challenged today by the exponential forces and enormous requirements for driving success especially of “stakeholder capitalism” facing all organizations (community building, collaboration, complexity, orchestration) (Hemphill, Kelley, and Cullari 2021).”

If you’re an experienced sitting corporate board director with a passion and expertise for modern corporate board governance, ideally with corporate board committee chair experience; I encourage you to consider applying to be part of this community as an advisor, mentor, or facilitator here in this interest form: https://airtable.com/shrYExCsBFtwF5JN2

I advise you to be prepared to be amazed by the extraordinary talent and to come with humility and please come with an open heart and mind for a different lived experience. The most masterful and respected leaders I know immediately put people of all types at ease, making them feel instantly safe and seen. They make it clear that they do not come into the room as an oppressor with ego and insecure arrogance or ignorance but as a powerful, wise, brilliant champion. Decide to be that person today. Take action now. Cybersecurity, diversity, and innovation are all urgent, have much in common and they all call for extraordinary leadership. Be part of the solution.

The space of our allies chapter was foundational to this evolution of connecting dots with William [1] WilliamHarding, Ng, Partridge, Douville “Allyship in Reducing Medical Technology Risk: Why Partnerships are Vital to Your Professional Success.” In: Douville, S. (Ed.). (2023). Advanced Health Technology: Managing Risk While Tackling Barriers to Rapid Acceleration (1st ed.). Productivity Press. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003348603

By Sherri Douville, CEO at Medigram, the Mobile Medicine company. Recognized in 8 categories of top CEOs by Board Room Media (Across SMS, mHealth, iOS, IT, Database, Big Data, Android, Healthcare). Top ranked medical market executive worldwide and #1 ranked in mobile technology categories (mhealth, iOS, Android), #1–2 (on any given day) for the cybersecurity market in the U.S. on Crunchbase. Best selling editor/author, Mobile Medicine: Overcoming People, Culture, and Governance & Advanced Health Technology: Managing Risk While Tackling Barriers to Rapid Acceleration, Taylor & Francis; Series Editor for Trustworthy Technology & Innovation + Trustworthy Technology & Innovation in Healthcare. (contracted to advise top academic and professional education publisher Routledge, Taylor & Francis).

Sherri is the co-chair of the IEEE/UL JV for the technical trust standard SG project for Clinical IoT in medicine, P2933. She is passionate about redefining technology, software and data for medicine and advanced health technologies in a way that’s worth the trust of clinicians, our family, and friends. Ms. Douville leverages her books to inform her work on the CHIME CDH security specialization certification. She also advises and co-founded the Cybersecurity curriculum for the Black Corporate Board Readiness and Women’s Corporate Board Readiness programs at Santa Clara University.

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