Dr. Patricia Savage, President/CEO Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries
March is Women’s History Month. The month celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting alumna Dr. Patricia Savage who graduated with her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies and a concentration in Organizational Leaership in 2005. As president and CEO of Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM), Dr. Savage provides leadership to manage the programs of ALSM, a faith-based, not-for-profit organization that supplies health and human services throughout eight counties in western central Pennsylvania. She was just named one of Pennsylvania Business Central’s 2019 Top Women in Business CEOs. Learn more about Dr. Savage and her views on leadership in the Q&A below.
Q: How do you define leadership?
A:That’s difficult. The concept is an abstraction. I think leadership is as diverse as the people who are leaders. Something good leaders have in common is that they place the good of their organization, team, unit, culture, society, family —whatever— over benefit to themselves.
Also, they are mission-driven—which is to say that their heads are screwed on right; they don’t get distracted from the vision that inspires their mission. They control themselves.
Q: When did you first feel that you were a leader? What was the experience?
A: It was in school. I was a good student in high school, didn’t that did not seem to be an arena in which I would lead. In college, I began to realize that I was in control of what I was learning. I started producing knowledge, not just absorbing it. I recall one experience when I began to take control of myself and found that my vision could inspire others to share that vision.
Q: Share an example of how you’ve put leadership in action.
A: Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) serves a large number of senior citizens, both those who live independently and those who are in health care centers. As we age, we strive to maintain our cognitive fitness. Although many of our residents participate in activities and do cross word puzzles, word search, and other programs that enable them to maintain their level of cognition, I challenged the enrichment staff to find a research-based program that would increase cognitive fitness. At first, there was some resistance and some doubt about a program like this being of benefit. At a conference that focused on healthy seniors, I found a software-based program and I shared this program with our team. They liked it and reviewed the results of the research, although there was some concern that our residents would be fearful of a computer-based program. After some training of both the staff and the residents, the program was embraced and is being used today. It has been successful on some of our campuses/programs, and others are still in the process of integrating the program. The example of leadership is that I worked with our team who is committed to the quality of care of our residents and challenged them to build on our programs. As a result of education and discussion, a new program was embraced.
Q: What leader do you admire most and why?
A: Martin Luther. It took great courage to be a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. He was a person of high morals, vision, courage, and persistence, all qualities that I admire.
Q: What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?
A: “As a leader, you have to have the ability to assimilate new information and understand that there might be a different view.” – Madeleine Albright