2.15: Leading to your Career Passion with Catherine Johannesen

2.15: Leading to your Career Passion with Catherine Johannesen

Catherine (Cathy) Johannesen shares her journey from viewing a position as a job to a career long passion. Her well-navigated career blends aspects of how to find the balance between what you want in your personal life and your career, and balance that what you want will look different over time. With an eye on constant learning and development, Cathy guides her team members to do the same, and helps make Med Chi feel like a home instead of just an employer. Her deep self awareness of her own strengths, the strengths of her team members, and the potential for growth will help leaders consider new perspectives and individuals look through a new lens on how they can examine their next steps! Listen in for ideas on having some of the most important conversations in your career!

Catherine Johannesen
Chief of Staff at MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society

“As much as I want to educate myself on resources for my own use, I want to do that for my team as well.”

Catherine Johannesen is the chief of staff of MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society. Cathy has spent her entire professional career in organized medicine and has been with MedChi since 2001. Her work at MedChi is primarily focused on strategic planning, staff leadership and development, communications, and governance. Cathy manages MedChi’s Board of Trustees, House of Delegates, and AMA Delegation in addition to overseeing the Society’s education, non-dues revenue, event planning, and association management divisions. Cathy serves actively with the American Association of Medical Society Executives (AAMSE) as member of the board of directors, finance committee, annual conference planning committee, and several special-interest workgroups. She is an alumnus of the association’s leadership academy and has a particular interest in mindfulness and leadership.

Other Resources

What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help your professional development (i.e. books, courses, trainings, assessments, magazines, thought leaders, etc.)?

  • AAMSE, especially the annual conference and the leadership academy. Not only is the educational content incredibly useful, but the peer networking has been absolutely invaluable. I learn so much from my colleagues and really lean on them for mentorship and growth.
  • American Society of Association Executives courses
  • ASAE Handbook of Professional Practice in Association Management
  • Thrive Global—They offer a lot of resources and content on productivity, stress relief, wellness, self-care, and professional development.
  • Clifton StrengthFinder assessment—I’m primarily a relator and have found it helpful to understand this part of my personality.

What is your favorite aspect of the association management field? I love that we are mission driven. Our decisions ultimately are guided by our mission rather than our bottom line or cynical motivations. This is specific to our particular type of professional association, but I love working for physicians. They are inherently ambitious and motivated people, and I absolutely love that the work I do helps them reach their professional goals. With my current mindset being very focused on professional growth, I find it incredibly rewarding to support that growth for others.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “Be ambitious and go for it.” It sounds trite, I know. But the right person at the right time encouraged me to figure out what my ambition is and to lean into any available opportunity that would get me there. I have experienced incredible growth over the past few years, with more to come, and I trace a lot of that back to that one conversation.

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