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Collaborative Mentorship

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Hospital Administrative Fellowship Program emphasizes leadership specifically by allowing full accessibility to the entire senior operations team. This allows fellows the opportunity to both observe effective leadership in others and to develop his or her leadership skills. Further insight from both phone and on-site interviews indicates that candidates are keenly interested in the degree and quality of mentorship.

In addition to the overall preceptor-fellow relationship, the MD Anderson model assigns specific Executive Mentors to fellows based on their current interests and career objectives. Depending on the fellows’ own abilities and interests, specific recommendations for assigned mentors include: the Vice President, Finance and Accounting; Vice President of Clinical Support Services; the Chief Information Officer; and Vice President, Process Improvement. The role of the mentor is two-fold. First, the mentor serves as a formal guide through the fellowship year regarding either professional or project-specific advice. Second, the mentor will monitor the fellows’ monthly progression and project portfolio as it pertains to the career interests of each individual fellow.

This collaborative mentorship allows administrative fellows to not only gain exposure to various types of leadership and managerial skills through daily interaction with all members of the senior operations team, but to form a strong mentorship relation with executives regarding project management and exposure as it relates to career interests.

Senior Operations Team Bios

Thomas Burke, M.D.
Executive Vice President and Physician-in-Chief

Dr. Thomas W. Burke is the executive vice president and physician-in-chief at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He joined the institution in 1988 after serving in the United States Armed Forces. As executive vice president and physician-in-chief he is responsible for oversight and strategic planning for patient care delivery throughout the hospital, clinics and outreach programs. One of his major goals is to enhance patient services through increased efficiency of human, fiscal and space resources.

Dr. Burke combines his passions for clinical excellence and creative management into a dedication to improve healthcare service and quality. He believes that delivery of high quality health care and research is contingent upon a patient-centered focus on excellence that is continually renewed through organizational and personal learning. He emphasizes meaningful quality management and performance improvement activities as a principal success factor for premier health care institutions. Accordingly, updated performance management systems at MD Anderson Cancer Center are providing new opportunities for staff and faculty members to impact and improve outcomes. Teams of front-line physicians, nurses and staff are actively involved in improving patient safety, increasing patient and staff satisfaction and improving financial performance.

Dr. Burke received his undergraduate degree and medical degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and provides clinical care for women with gynecologic malignancies. Dr. Burke’s clinical research focus has been on vulvar and endometrial cancers. He has been instrumental in the development of conservative surgical options for women with vulvar cancer, including lymphatic mapping, surgical reconstruction and combined modality therapy for advanced tumors. His interests in uterine cancers have involved surgical staging procedures, adjuvant chemotherapy, treatment of recurrent disease and the management of high-risk subgroups. He leads the institution’s Uterine Cancer SPORE grant team.

Dr. Burke is currently a member of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Surgeons, the Felix Rutledge Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. His clinical and educational activities have been recognized through his national and international presentations on gynecologic cancers as well as by several teaching awards and nominations to Woodward and White's "Best Doctors in America" and Good Housekeeping's "Best Doctors for Women." Dr. Burke is committed to clinical excellence, improving patient outcomes through research driven patient care and enhancing patient service.  

Gerard Colman, FACHE, CHFP, CPHIMS
Senior Vice President and Chief of Clinical Operations
Administrative Fellows Preceptor

Gerard has more than 15 years of health care management and finance experience, including successful major projects to improve patient care facilities, patient scheduling systems, registration and charge capture processes and hospital financial systems. Most recently employed by Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Irvington Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, Mr. Colman served as administrative director of ambulatory care and patient care financial services from 1997.

As the vice president and chief of clinical operations, Gerard Colman is responsible for the oversight of the Multidisciplinary Care Centers including care operations in the disease site centers, administrative operations of the business centers and the Ambulatory Clinical Building and Cancer Prevention Buildings (ACB/CPB). Mr. Colman works closely with the many faculty and administrative leaders and staff members involved in the effort to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our research-driven patient care.  

Barbara Summers, Ph.D., R.N.
Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer
Head, Division of Nursing

Dr. Summers, who holds a Ph.D. in Health Care Administration, has held leadership positions in a variety of healthcare settings. She has broad experience managing and directing a variety of clinical operations and business programs including service as an administrator of inpatient services at the Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia. Prior to coming to MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Summers was affiliated with the National Institutes of Health Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center, where she developed a program of cancer nursing research in collaboration with the staff of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Summers has an extensive background in oncology and cancer care and came to MD Anderson Cancer Center as the clinical administrative director for the Hematology Center. More recently she served as associate vice president for clinical programs where she was responsible for providing leadership in the planning and oversight of clinical programs including projects in business operations, clinical program activities and clinical faculty resources allocation. An active participant in professional organizations, she has developed a focused expertise in the areas of leadership behaviors and development. Professional honors and awards include the National Institutes of Health "NIH Director’s Award" and the NIH Clinical Center Service Chief’s Award for Excellence.

Frank Tortorella, M.B.A., J.D., C.H.E
Vice President, Clinical Support Services

Frank Tortorella, M.B.A., J.D., C.H.E., has 20 years of experience, most recently with Advocate Northside Health Network in Chicago, Illinois, where he held a variety of positions including vice president of ambulatory care and vice president of finance. Frank is board certified in Healthcare Management and a diplomat in the American College of Healthcare Executives. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English and American literature from Harvard University and holds a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in healthcare administration from the University of Chicago and a Juris Doctorate with a concentration in health law from Loyola University of Chicago. Frank's administrative responsibilities include Admissions, Business Center Coordinating Unit, Case Management, Central Business Center, Chaplaincy & Pastoral Education, Clinical Nutrition, Dining Services, Health Information Management, Patient Transportation, Rehabilitation Services and Social Work. Frank also serves as a senior examiner for the Texas Award for Performance Excellence and as the vice chair of the Board of Directors for the National Runaway Switchboard, the federally-designated national communications system for runaway and homeless youth.

John Bingham
Vice President, Performance Improvement and Chief Quality Officer

Bingham is responsible for all clinical quality and performance improvement activities at MD Anderson, in collaboration with the Executive Vice President and Physician-in-Chief; the Chief Academic Officer; members of the Senior Operations Team; and the clinical division heads. He provides and facilitates strategic planning for quality improvement and patient safety for Clinical Operations.




Maria Alma Rodriguez, M.D.
Vice President, Medical Affairs

Dr. Alma Rodriguez is professor in the department of Lymphoma / Myeloma. Since March 2005, she has been the vice president of medical affairs.

Dr. Rodriguez has been at MD Anderson since 1986. She graduated with highest honors from Our Lady of the Lake College in San Antonio, Texas, and received her medical degree from The University of Texas Medical School in Houston.

Dr. Rodriguez is certified by the American Board of Medical Oncology and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Rodriguez’ clinical expertise is in the treatment of lymphoid malignancies. She also has a focus in research, primarily in clinical trials, salvage therapy, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and long-term sequelae of chemotherapy. She is the principal investigator of three on-going protocols. As vice president of medical affairs, Dr. Rodriguez oversees the activities of the Medical Staff Services, Patient Advocacy, Clinical Ethics, Physician Assistant Administrative Programs and Physician Relations departments.

Dr. Rodriguez has authored or co-authored numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as contributed chapters on the care and management of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Dr. Rodriguez is recognized as an expert in the treatment of lymphomas, and she is sought out to present both nationally and internationally in both English and Spanish languages. As an exemplary leader and role model, Dr. Rodriguez has supervised or mentored numerous medical and graduate students as well as clinical residents and fellows. Dr. Rodriguez is committed to providing excellent patient care through her on-going research interests.

Wenonah B. Ecung R.N., M.S.
Associate Vice President, Clinical Programs

Wenonah has more than 27 years of healthcare management experience. Throughout her tenure at MD Anderson Cancer Center she has served in various management and leadership roles, authored numerous professional publications and received several professional honors and awards, including the Brown Foundation Award for Excellence in Oncology Nursing. Prior to her current role, Ms. Nelson served as the clinical administrative director for the Sarcoma Multidisciplinary Care Center and program director for the Preceptorship/Clinical Exchange educational program. She has successfully led major projects, such as the Clark Clinic Entrance Renovation Project Team, the Category Two Internal Self-Assessment Workgroup and Team Huddle to name a few.

In her role as associate vice president for clinical programs, Ms. Nelson is responsible for providing direct oversight of various strategic projects and programs impacting hospital and clinic operations, assisting the executive vice president and physician-in-chief in coordinating the development of short- and long-range goals and planning and implementing administrative and operational programs and activities within the hospital and clinics.

Barabara Bowman, RN, JD
Vice President, Patient Services

Barbara Bowman leads our organization's customer service initiative and oversees and coordinates the strategic and budget planning activities of the International Center, Language Assistance, Patient Advocacy and Guest Relations and Patient Affairs.




Dwain Morris
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Morris provides leadership for the institution's long-term and short-term financial planning, internal and external financial reporting, accounting, treasury and cash management, supply chain services, business case analysis, and the management of assets. He also provides leadership to ensure that we meet all financial regulatory requirements of The University of Texas and the State of Texas.

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center