Relational Coordination Research Collaborative

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Our Board

  • Kathryn McDonald

    Kathryn McDonald, Board Chair  •  Kathryn McDonald has over 25 years of experience in healthcare, working in a variety of settings – industry, hospital, and academia.  She is the Executive Director of the Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research (CHP/PCOR) at Stanford University, a Senior Scholar at the centers, and Associate Director of the Stanford-UCSF Evidence-based Practice Center (with RAND).

    She conducts research on healthcare quality and patient safety improvement, with an emphasis on building and assessing the evidence base related to measurement, interventions, and organizational context. She aims to make her research findings useful to key healthcare stakeholders — patients/families, clinicians, systems administrators, and leaders. Her research portfolio includes numerous peer-reviewed publications, initial and ongoing development of the publicly released Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Quality Indicators (, reviews of patient safety practices (Making Healthcare Safer I and II), two series of evidence reports on quality improvement strategies for national priority topics (Closing the Quality Gap, Quality Kaleidoscope), creation of the Care Coordination Measures Atlas, and development of the Care Coordination Quality Measure for Primary Care (CCQM-PC).

    Building on her longstanding commitment to patient safety and quality, she recently served on the Institute of Medicine (now National Academy of Medicine) Committee on Diagnostic Error in Healthcare that produced the report Improving Diagnosis in Health Care,  chaired the Patient Engagement Committee of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, and has led the Network of Patient Safety Databases contract team for the AHRQ Patient Safety Organization Program. She is a Past President of the Society for Medical Decision Making, holds a PhD in health policy (organizations and management specialty) from University of California Berkeley, an MM/MBA from Northwestern University, and a BS in chemical engineering from Stanford University.

    • Nancy Whitelaw

      Nancy Whitelaw, Vice-Chair  •  Nancy Whitelaw is a Registered Nurse, having received both her baccalaureate and graduate degrees in Nursing Science from Western University, London Ontario Canada.  During her nursing career, Nancy has worked in a variety of clinical departments, primarily in the hospital sector, from frontline to program leadership positions. Since 2002, Nancy has been working in the patient safety field, bringing together her knowledge and experience in healthcare management with safety culture concepts to develop effective new approaches to improving performance in the safety and quality of healthcare services. Nancy is now President at Nevans Consulting and prior to that was Director of Research and Development at Salus Global. 

    • Karen Albertsen

      Karen Albertsen  •  Karen Albertsen is a partner, researcher and consultant in the Danish company, Team Working Life.  She was educated as a psychologist at the University of Copenhagen and received her degree in 1991. Her Ph.D. thesis was on the topic of motivation and health behaviors. From 1999 to 2011 she was employed as a researcher and later as a senior researcher at the National Centre for Working Environment in Denmark. Within the area of the psychosocial work environment, she has conducted research projects on a range of topics as work-life balance, working time arrangements, work without boundaries and work in the public sector. She has been the project manager of the research project: "Relational Coordination in Everyday Rehabilitation," conducted between 2012 and 2014, and is at present involved in a couple of projects involving the measurement and development of RC.

    • Barbara Belk

      Barbara Belk  •  Barbara Belk serves as Regional Director for Learning and Organizational Development for KPNW and is on faculty for Kaiser Permanente’s national Advanced Improvement Institute. Additional roles at Kaiser Permanente include Principle Consultant, Health Plan Program Office of the CFO and Chief of Intensive Outpatient Mental Health Services in the Northern California service area. As well, Barbara worked for 8 years as a consultant providing organizational effectiveness and development consulting, corporate strategic planning, executive partnering facilitation, and executive coaching across many industries.

      Dr. Belk is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and has a Bachelor’s in Education. She holds certificates as a Human Capital Strategist, advanced OD Certificate (Columbia University), is a certified Baldridge examiner, and a Change Leadership (AIM) instructor. She won multiple awards as a Partnering Facilitator for the state of California and has delivered multiple speaking engagements throughout her career on a variety of topics.

    • Jody Hoffer Gittell

      Jody Hoffer Gittell   Jody Hoffer Gittell is a professor of management at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management.  She founded the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative, bringing scholars and practitioners together to help organizations build relational coordination for high performance.  She co-founded a university spinoff called Relational Coordination Analytics Inc. offering measurement and intervention support to organizations seeking to improve their performance, and serves as its Chief Scientific Officer.

      Gittell has developed a theory of relational coordination, proposing that highly interdependent work is most effectively coordinated by frontline workers with each other, their customers and their leaders, through relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge and mutual respect, supported by frequent, timely, accurate, problem-solving communication.  The theory of relational coordination has two central propositions: 1) relational coordination drives quality and efficiency performance outcomes along with client and worker well-being, under conditions of interdependence, uncertainty and time constraints; and 2) organizational structures support or undermine relational coordination and its associated performance outcomes, depending upon their design.  Gittell's relational model of organizational change has extended the theory to address how organizations and their stakeholders increase relational coordination to achieve their desired outcomes, proposing three types of interventions needed to do so - relational and work process interventions, as well as structural interventions.

      Gittell's research is published in a wide range of scientific journals, for example Management Science, Organization Science, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Human Resource Management Journal, Human Resource Management, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Health Services Research, Journal of Nursing Management, Medical Care, Health Care Management Review, Journal of Interprofessional Care, and Journal of Air Transport Management.  She has published five books, most recently Transforming Relationships for High Performance: The Power of Relational Coordination (2016).  Gittell received her PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management and taught for six years at the Harvard Business School before joining Brandeis in 2001.  She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Endowment for Health, as Treasurer for Seacoast NAACP, and on the Editorial Review Board of the Academy of Management Review

    • Claus Jebsen

      Claus Jebsen  •  Claus Jebsen is a trained psychologist, educated at the University of Bergen, Norway. Working as an organizational psychologist, his main aim is to assist organizations of great complexity to make their strategy work. Very often, this requires cross-sectional collaboration, which puts an extra demand on leadership at the individual, relational, group and system level. Claus enjoys operating in this diverse and complex context. Claus has been the managing partner of the Institutt for Medskapende Ledelse (which translated would be, Institute of Co-Creative Leadership) since 2008. This company offers organizational and leadership development to small and large public and private organizations. 

    • Luci Leykum

      Luci Leykum  •  Dr. Leykum is a health services researcher at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System / University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  Her work has focused on relationships and sensemaking among inpatient teams and their association with outcomes of hospitalized patients, though her recent work also includes relationships and sensemaking in the primary care context. She serves as Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of General and Hospital Medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.


    • Curt Lindberg

      Curt Lindberg  •  Prior to his current role, Curt founded and served as President and Chief Learning and Science Officer of Plexus Institute, an organization devoted to fostering the health of individuals, families, communities, organizations and our natural environment by helping people use concepts emerging from  the new science of complexity. His work to understand complexity science concepts and their relevance to healthcare began in the mid 1990s during his tenure as President of VHA of New Jersey, a network of 19 not-for-profit hospitals.

      Lindberg earned a masters degree in healthcare administration from the George Washington University and a doctorate in complexity and organizational change from University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. Ralph Stacey was his doctoral dissertation advisor. Lindberg has played an important role in bringing complexity science concepts into healthcare and management. He has written numerous articles and coauthored several books, including Edgeware: Lessons from Complexity Science for Health Care Leaders and On the Edge: Nursing in the Age of Complexity.

      In 2004 he helped introduce the social and behavioral change process, Positive Deviance (PD), into healthcare in North and South America and served as principal investigator on the first significant multi-hospital application in the US. He has served as an advisor on PD projects in the US, Canada and Colombia South America on such issues as blood stream infection prevention, case management, palliative care, MRSA prevention, and pain management. Lindberg has written and spoken extensively about PD in healthcare and coauthored the first book about Positive Deviance in healthcare - Inviting Everyone: Healing Healthcare through Positive Deviance. His article,"Leadership in a Complex Adaptive System: Insights from Positive Deviance," was awarded the Best 2012 Paper by the Academy of Management Organization Development and Change Division.

      In recent years he has been active in developing and diffusing Relational Coordination theory in healthcare. Currently he is working on Relational Coordination-informed initiatives to improve the quality of care in an intensive care unit, in a family medicine practice, in case management process in a large health insurer, and in joint replacement surgery. He is also helping to integrate Relational Coordination into efforts to foster high levels of collaboration throughout a large health system.

    • Darren McLean

      Darren McLean   •  Based on the Gold Coast in Australia, Darren McLean project manages the implementation of a Relational Coordination interventional initiative at the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service.  

      Darren has over 20 years of experience working in the public health sector in Australia and New Zealand. He has also worked as a Registered Nurse, Nurse Educator and more recently as a Principal Project Officer in the commissioning of a new tertiary paediatric hospital in Brisbane. Darren holds a Master’s degree in Public Health, Post Grad Certificate in Critical Care Nursing and a Bachelor of Nursing Science.

    • Laura MontvilleLaura Montville •  Laura Montville, MS, is an executive and organization development consultant who works primarily with executives in highly technical arenas including healthcare and bio-tech. Clientele include C-Level Executives – CEOs, CMOs, SVPs, VPMAs, and Medical Directors.  Laura brings a unique skill set to organization development given her strong business background as previous owner of a $3M staffing firm.

      For the past ten years, Laura has been working with senior leaders and their teams within healthcare (hospitals, private practices and bio-tech), providing leadership development, executive coaching, and team building. Most recently she has been designing leadership academies for healthcare systems, working with senior physician leaders to create curricula and leadership practice forums utilizing 70-20-10 principles.  Prior to that, she worked with a group of 30+ physicians to implement a 5 year initiative which involved the design and facilitation of a leadership academy for and led by physicians in the state of Maine to develop the skills and relationships needed to transform healthcare within the state.

      Laura is now studying and becoming certified in the practice of relational coordination – communicating and relating for the purpose of task integration – a powerful driver of performance when work is interdependent, uncertain, and time constrained. This work is being carried out through the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative.  Laura is pursuing an Advanced Coaching Certificate through Gestalt International Study Center with a Professional Coaching Certification, and has an MS in Organization Development from Pepperdine University and a BS in Business Administration from University of New Hampshire’s Paul T. College of Business and Economics.

    • Anna Perlmutter

      Anna Perlmutter  •  Anna Perlmutter is a researcher and consultant working to effect positive, systemic change in mission-based organizational networks. For over a decade, Anna has worked at the intersections of research and practice to explore the dynamics of inter-organizational collaboration, leveraged technology and infrastructure, shared resources, and work-place coordination and co-production in complex cross-sector systems. As a current Ph.D. candidate in Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, she is focused on improving the capacity of social mission organizations, particularly those engaging in multi-stakeholder, whole-systems change efforts. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Anna was Research and Development Specialist at the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative (RCRC) at the Heller School and has served on the Research Advisory Board for the RCRC for the past several years. Anna received an MBA in Nonprofit Management at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management and a BA in Literature at New College of Florida. She lives in Cleveland, OH with her husband, child, three cats, and a few hundred traveling couch-surfing guests who come through town each year. Contact her at:

    • Diane Rawlins

      Diane Rawlins  •  Diane B. Rawlins, MA, LMHC, founder and president of InsideOut Consulting, LLC, partners with healthcare leaders and their teams to meet today’s complex challenges and unprecedented opportunities. She strengthens leaders’ capacity to transform organizations by providing them with structured approaches for mindfully achieving outcomes, forging collaborative relationships with diverse stakeholders, developing a mature understanding of self and purpose, and acting with integrity in charged conditions.

      Diane has been working for over 25 years as a consultant, coach, 
facilitator and teacher with healthcare leaders and practitioners in the US,
 UK, and Canada. An early participant in the formation of the positive organizational psychology movement, she collaborated with David Cooperrider as a founding partner of Appreciative Inquiry Consulting, LLC, a global consultancy committed to creating positive transformation in organizations and communities.

      In 2001, Diane co-founded Leading Organizations to Health, a nationally acclaimed institute on leading change in healthcare, where she continues to serve as senior faculty. She also works closely with Parker J. Palmer as a national facilitator for the Center for Courage & Renewal, where her focus is on fostering personal and professional renewal, integrity, and leadership skills for serving professionals. In addition, she is an affiliate of Cambridge Leadership Associates, the organization that grew out of the work of Dr. Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky, and a certified professional partner of the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative, based at Brandeis University.

      Originally a psychotherapist, Ms. Rawlins holds a BFA from the University of Michigan and a MA (psychology) from the University of Louisville, and has post-graduate training in both psychology and organizational development. She and her family live in Seattle, WA.

    • John Paul Stephens

      John Paul Stephens  •  John Paul Stephens, PhD, received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Morgan State University and his master’s and doctoral degrees in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the roles of perception, knowledge, and relationships in the adaptive coordination of action groups such as musical ensembles. His other research interests fall under the umbrella of positive organizational scholarship and include high-quality connections, strengths-based feedback, and the relationship between character strengths and person-job fit.

      As a student of coordination in groups, Dr. Stephens sees relational coordination as a key framework for understanding how groups operate as a unit. Communication, feedback, problem-solving and shared goals are all key mechanisms for how groups adapt to unforeseen, fluctuating circumstances, and to the changing quality of their own coordination. Qualitative, virtuous concerns also come into play in both Dr. Stephens’ work on the role of perceiving beauty in a group’s coordination, and the role of mutual respect and appreciation in relational coordination.

    • Julius Jong Yang

      Julius Jong Yang  •  Dr. Julius Yang is a hospitalist in the Division of General Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Yang completed his undergraduate education at Williams College, then went on to earn a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He attended medical school at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, at the conclusion of which he was awarded the Kathy Swan Ginsburg Award for humanism in medicine. After serving as a chief resident at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Yang completed a Fellowship in Medical Education at the Carl J. Shapiro Institute for Education and Research.

      As a Rabkin Fellow at the Shapiro Institute, Dr. Yang investigated methods for integrating the medical resident's clinical experience across the inpatient and outpatient settings, with a goal to educationally reinforce patient-centered care that spans the continuum of care throughout the course of a patient's experience with disease. These methods included fostering more active housestaff involvement in discharge planning and follow-up visits, review of patients' post-discharge courses during formal teaching rounds, and closer coordination of care between physicians, nursing staff, and case management.

      In his current role as a hospitalist, Dr. Yang actively teaches and mentors residents, interns, and medical students while providing clinical care to patients hospitalized at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He serves as Associate Program Director for the BIDMC Internal Medicine Residency Program, overseeing inpatient aspects of the residency training program. He also serves as chairman of the Resuscitation Committee at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, charged with monitoring and maintaining the quality of critical event responses at the medical center; in this role he has initiated a multidisciplinary program in medical simulation focused on teamwork principles applied to crisis event management. He is currently participating in a Patient Safety Leadership Fellowship sponsored by American Hospital Association and Health Resource Educational Trust, with a focus on promoting safe "handoff" practices between care providers throughout a patient's hospital course.

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