Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall

Life Sciences Leader, Former EVP, Chief Medical Officer, & Chief Patient Officer at Pfizer, Inc.
Speaker Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall
  • Widely regarded for reshaping Pfizer’s culture and decision-making to focus on patient engagement and inclusion
  • Appointed to the Board of Governors of the Patient-Centered Outreach Research Institute by the Obama Administration
  • Recognized by audiences for her appearances on Dr. Phil, The Doctors, and more
  • Shares stories from her inspiring four-decade career journey to motivate audiences to overcome obstacles, determine their own destinies, and become effective leaders

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A pioneer in medicine and leadership, Freda Lewis-Hall, MD, DFAPA, MFPM has been on the frontlines of healthcare for more than 40 years as a clinician, researcher, and leader in the biopharmaceuticals and life sciences industries.

Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Dr. Lewis-Hall is an incredible storyteller with a flair for well-timed humor who shares with audiences her powerful story and inspiring path to becoming a leader in the healthcare industry. Her talks motivate audience members to embrace pressure and determine their own destinations, just as she did on her path to being the first in her family to attend college, becoming a physician and, subsequently, a biopharmaceutical executive. Dr. Lewis-Hall’s message of perseverance, tenacity, equity, inclusion, and transparency is one that resonates with all audiences and diverse backgrounds.

A passionate advocate for health equity and improved outcomes for all patients, Dr. Lewis-Hall served in multiple leadership positions in the pharmaceutical industry. She is widely regarded for expanding outreach to patients, reshaping the focus on patient engagement and inclusion, improving health information and education, and amplifying the voice of the patient within company culture and decision-making.

Most recently at Pfizer, Inc, Dr. Lewis-Hall served more than ten years on the executive leadership team as executive vice president, chief medical officer, and later chief patient officer. Her tenure at Pfizer was devoted to ensuring the safe, effective, and appropriate use of medicines and vaccines produced by the pharmaceutical giant, from the first clinical trial to its last use.

Prior to joining Pfizer, Dr. Lewis-Hall held various senior leadership roles within the industry including chief medical officer and executive vice president, medicines development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals; senior vice president, U.S. medical affairs at Bristol-Myers Squibb; vice president, research and development, product development at Pharmacia Corporation; and as a product team leader and director at Eli Lilly and Company.

Before entering the biopharmaceutical industry, Dr. Lewis-Hall served as vice chairperson and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Howard University College of Medicine and as an advisor to the National Institute of Mental Health. Trained as a psychiatrist, she began her medical career in frontline patient care and became well known for her work on the impact of mental illness on families and communities and on issues of healthcare disparities.

Appointed by the Obama Administration in 2010, she recently completed a decade of service on the inaugural Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Dedicated to building the next generation of leaders in her field, Dr. Lewis-Hall currently serves on the Board of Fellows of The Harvard Medical School, and the Board of Advisors of the Dell Medical School.

While building a pipeline of leaders, Dr. Lewis-Hall continues her commitment to health, science, and advocacy by serving on the Boards of the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health, The Milken Institute’s FasterCures Center, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Davos Alzheimer's Collaborative, and the Dalio Center for Health Justice at NewYork-Presbyterian. Dr. Lewis-Hall currently serves on the corporate boards of Milliken and Company, a global diversified industrial manufacturer; 1Life Healthcare, Inc., a health services company; Exact Sciences, Inc., a molecular diagnostics company; SpringWorks Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company; and Pyxis Oncology.

In addition to being co-editor of the book, Psychiatric Illness in Women: Emerging Treatments and Research, Dr. Lewis-Hall is a recognized face and voice, providing health and wellness education on national TV and radio shows, magazines, and websites. For nearly a decade, she was a regular guest providing practical, easy to understand health advice on Dr. Phil and The Doctors.  She has also appeared on the THE REAL, was a featured speaker at TEDMed, and hosted The Urban Health Report for PBS for 5 years, in addition to many other media appearances. She was named “Woman of the Year” by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, one of the “Notable Women in Technology” by Crain’s New York Business, and among the “50 Most Powerful Women in Corporate America”” and “Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America” by Black Enterprise magazine.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Howard University College of Medicine, she is an honorary fellow of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom, and distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

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Speaker Video

Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall: Woman's Forum Speech 2018

Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall interviews Dr. Anthony S. Fauci

Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall: Equanimity Under Duress

Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall: 2013 Commencement Address at Keck Graduate Institute

Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall: TEDMED 2011

Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall: B. Smith Shares Her Struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease

Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall Visits KISS’s Gene Simmons to Talk Atrial Fibrillation

No Pressure, No Diamonds. By her own admission, Dr. Lewis-Hall wasn’t supposed to be here. As a young African American girl born in the 1950s, becoming a leader in the healthcare and biopharmaceutical fields wasn’t initially something she believed was possible. Not least of all because she came from humble beginnings in which none of the adult figures in her home had completed their educations.

Needless to say, Dr. Lewis-Hall felt the pressure from day one on her career journey. But she channeled her mother’s advice at each roadblock along the way: “No pressure, no diamonds.” In this talk, she revisits her personal story of becoming a life sciences leader and shares the pivotal moments on her evolution from carbon to diamond. Audience members will gain a unique, inspiring perspective on performing under pressure and a better understanding of the importance of focusing on the marks they make and how, ultimately, these milestones eventually define their legacy.

Equanimity Under Duress. Will it be there when I need it? The calm, the focus, the resilience, and the peace to meet the needs of those who rely on you. Equanimity under duress – is the ability that distinguishes true leaders as they make decisions that impact people’s lives. A concept first introduced to her by her mentor, the renowned Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., Dr. Lewis-Hall received a crash course in equanimity under duress much sooner than she expected.

Not long after entering medical school, her world came crashing down and she spent each day confronting personal tragedies, including the death of her mother. As she assumed the position of caretaker for her family, she was moments away from taking a leave of absence from medical school when Dr. Leffall helped her see the equanimity within her and convinced her to stay the course. The drive to achieve equanimity under duress was greater than the desire to walk away. Audience members will hear Dr. Lewis-Hall’s powerful story of overcoming loss and moving past the setbacks, and will be inspired to lead and continue working toward their goals, even when fire is raining down from the sky and everything is chaotic around them.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: "One Head Does Not Exchange Ideas" (Ghanaian Proverb). People tend to gravitate to others who look and think like them. It allows them to remain in their comfort zones, but also limits the potential for welcoming viewpoints and ideas that could provide the starting point for a much-needed cultural shift.

As an African American, female senior executive, and leader in the biopharmaceutical industry, Dr. Lewis-Hall provides a firsthand account of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and the role each plays in advancing an organization’s internal and external relationships as well as its industry standing. Organizations that champion diversity are often more forward-thinking and innovative because of the varied insights gained from people of different backgrounds and experiences. Her guidance ensures audience members come away with a blueprint for starting the DEI conversation with their teams and developing a plan to drive diversity efforts that are suited to their organizations.

"There is Nothing Permanent Except Change" (Heraclitus). One of the tell-tale signs of a true leader is their ability to affect change within their organizations and for the people they serve. Throughout her career, Dr. Lewis-Hall has worked to reshape the culture and decision making of the organizations where she has been employed. If change is permanent and necessary, why is it so hard? And what can leaders do to facilitate change?

In this talk, she opens the audience’s eyes to the challenges she experienced as a leader working to implement and instill change. Audience members will gain a better understanding of how to identify the areas which need improvement, and implement change across an organization to create the best outcomes for all.

Determine Your Own Destination. The responsibility of getting to where you want to be when you want to be there ultimately lies within you. In this talk, Dr. Lewis-Hall draws on her own career journey as a leader in life sciences to share how she discovered and achieved her “pinnacle role” – the point at which she had the greatest possible impact and the deepest satisfaction – as well as lessons learned on the path to reaching this destination.

Audiences will learn the importance of asking the right questions, being invested in reaching their destinations, and remaining true to themselves while maintaining the ability to listen and evolve.

And Now What? The Future of Healthcare. Dr. Lewis-Hall has been at the frontlines of healthcare as a clinician, academic leader, researcher, and leader in the biopharmaceutical and life sciences industries. She is an expert in analyzing evolving needs in the healthcare industry and is among the most sought-after voices as the world seeks to understand the current landscape, as well as trends that will shape the future.

In this talk, she speaks to advancements in healthcare and finding ways to leverage the incredible technology available to us for better outcomes and equity. As Dr. Lewis-Hall puts it, currently, “We have Star Wars medicine but The Flintstones’ healthcare system.” She also addresses pressing issues in public health and women’s health, sheds light on the causes and effects of healthcare disparities, and reveals the facts and fiction related to healthcare’s prevailing myths.

Deep Customer Insights. Few have been a champion for patients in the way Dr. Lewis-Hall has. No matter her role, from clinician to biopharmaceutical industry leader, she has worked to amplify the patient’s voice and put them at the center of decision making.

As audiences will discover, Dr. Lewis-Hall’s people-centered philosophy is one that can be adapted by organizations across diverse industries. She shares her methods for strengthening communication with patients, making them feel included, and influencing them to engage. This talk will inspire audience members to re-orient their cultures and develop a strategy that is mutually beneficial for both their internal teams as well as their external customers, members, or prospects.

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