Distinguished Administrator, Alum, Honored with Portrait

When Dr. Linnie Golightly was a medical student at Weill Cornell Medicine in the early 1980s, the world was a very different place. Most professors were male, and students were taught by immersion. Students had to reconcile on their own how what they were learning in lectures would synch with caring for patients. Many of the crucial physician skills, such as doctor-patient interaction, communication, ethics and decision-making, weren’t implicitly taught. One of Dr. Golightly’s then-medical preceptors, however, broke that mold: Dr. Carol Storey-Johnson (M.D. ’77), an alumna of the institution who spent as much time teaching hard skills as she did championing the teaching of soft ones – all the while making true connections with everyone around her.

“She was brilliant but kind and warm -- and approachable. She looked out for us. She looked out for her patients,” said Dr. Golightly (M.D. ’83), who is now associate dean of diversity and inclusion at Weill Cornell Medicine. “She’s always been somebody who's trying to build and bring people together. Somebody who's really trying to understand each person for the human being they are, each person for the expertise they bring, and trying to find how we can bring all that together.”

Indeed, throughout Dr. Storey-Johnson’s 45-year tenure at Weill Cornell Medicine, she’s been a builder and unifier, listening to students, patients, fellow educators and other administrators to create what Dr. Yoon Kang, Weill Cornell Medicine’s senior associate dean for education, calls the “calm in the middle of the storm,” while creating new curriculum and projects that enrich and evolve the school’s mission.

Dr. Storey-Johnson

“I often try to channel my inner Carol. She's really been a role model for me in the way that she approaches people and discussions that are complex,” Dr. Kang said. “She centers people and conversations. And to me, that's what inclusion and belonging is all about. She makes people comfortable to share their thoughts and she ensures that everyone feels valued.”

In November, Weill Cornell Medicine commemorated Dr. Storey-Johnson’s illustrious career and her 2019 retirement with an honor that immortalizes her value for generations to come: The installation of a portrait hanging close to the main entrance of the Meyer Education Building, by the medical education administrative suite.

A Woman of Firsts

Dr. Storey-Johnson was part of the first graduating class of women at Yale University. She first arrived at Weill Cornell Medicine in the summer of her junior year as part of the Traveler’s Summer Research Fellowship Program, which offers 25 pre-medical students from underserved racial and ethnic groups or socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to gain deeper insight into the field of medicine. She graduated from Yale in 1973 with a degree in chemistry, returning to Weill Cornell Medicine for medical school and, after graduating in 1977 with honors as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, remained for her general internal medicine residency. Since then, she has held a variety of increasingly impressive roles at the institution including professor of medicine, senior associate dean for education and senior advisor for medical education. She is currently professor emerita of medicine.

It was during her tenure as senior associate dean for education from 2001 to 2014 that Dr. Storey-Johnson executed her most impressive and enduring accomplishment: her work transforming and updating the educational program at Weill Cornell Medicine for medical students. She launched the revamp of the Weill Cornell Medical College’s curriculum, which integrates clinical skills and science and inspires students to think like academic clinicians from day one. It’s a project that she looks back on with pride and affection, she said.

“All along, my interest has been in doing something transformational for education,” Dr. Storey-Johnson said. “First, for medical residents and the internal medicine residency program, and then, when the medical school started to focus on integrating the basic medical sciences with clinical care and the care of patients, for medical students at Weill Cornell Medicine. Now the curriculum is more interactive, it's more personal for them. They get to bond with mentors in research and in educational projects.”

The new curriculum, which was implemented in 2014, brings disparate physicians and researchers together when in the past they worked in siloes. This idea of getting educators to work with others in different disciplines was a breakthrough and one Dr. Storey-Johnson said she was proud to implement. “It included the skillset and content of doctor-patient interaction and of medical ethics,” she said. “And so there was an opportunity for the faculty in biochemistry and physiology to see that their content could actually be connected to doctor-patient interaction and medical ethics.”

Dr. Storey-Johnson said enhancing the faculty engagement with students was especially important, as was introducing programs that document clinical skill acquisition. This included educating medical students through the use of standardized patients at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Margaret and Ian Smith Clinical Skills Center, which offers opportunities for students to practice their clinical skills by interacting with trained actors playing patients in realistic simulated clinical scenarios.

Dr. Storey-Johnson has received every award at Weill Cornell Medicine that recognizes excellence in medical education, including the Elliot Hochstein Award, the Senior List Teaching Award and the Siegel Family Faculty Award. She received the Excellence in Teaching Award three times during her career -- 2000, 2011 and 2014 – and was the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Educator Award of the Northeast Group on Educational Affairs from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Dr. Storey-Johnson will also be remembered for her instrumental work in 2001 establishing Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar in Doha, Qatar. Her multifaceted work included encouraging and engaging Weill Cornell Medicine faculty in New York City to serve as instructors as the Cornell University campus in Qatar recruited its own faculty. She also helped Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar educators tailor the U.S. curriculum for the region, and ensured Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar had faculty representation on Weill Cornell Medicine medical education and leadership committees in New York City.

The Artist for an Artist

The portrait of Dr. Storey-Johnson was conceived and commissioned in 2019 by then-Dean Augustine Choi who charged the Offices of Diversity and Inclusion and Medical Education with its procurement. When looking for an artist who could capture the warm personality and gravitas of Dr. Storey-Johnson, the Weill Cornell Medicine team turned to Dr. Elizabeth Wilson Anstey for assistance.

Dr. Wilson-Anstey, who was an assistant dean of diversity and student life when she retired from Weill Cornell Medicine in 2019 after more than 40 years of service, is included in one of the two portraits of people of color already hanging in the halls of Weill Cornell Medicine. It was appropriate that she help find someone to create Dr. Storey-Johnson’s portrait, Dr. Kang said. Her choice: Simmie Knox, who was the first Black artist to paint the portrait of a sitting president and first lady, President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

“He also painted Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Ali, Thurgood Marshall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Dr. Kang said. “Commissioning Simmie Knox to paint Carol -- a distinguished physician, educator and administrator who has left a mark on generations of medical students, graduates and physician educators -- was a fitting way to honor her significant accomplishments as an iconic Weill Cornell Medicine leader.”

The portrait does more than just honor a woman who colleagues respect and love. It also helps showcase the fact that people of color – and women of color in particular – play an integral part at Weill Cornell Medicine and the practice and business of medicine as a whole, said Dr. Wilson-Anstey, whose portrait with Dr. James Curtis, former associate dean of minority affairs, Dr. Carlyle Miller (M.D. ’75), former associate dean for student affairs, and Dr. Bruce Ballard, former associate dean for student affairs and equal opportunity programs, hangs outside the medical school’s admission office.

“If anyone were to go to any medical school in the nation, and look on the walls, there is a paucity of African American, Latinx and other individuals of color whose portraits are on the walls. In 2023 it's just natural that this begins to change. It's long overdue,” Dr. Wilson-Anstey said. Current and future students, especially those who are underrepresented in medicine, will see a lasting, tangible example of what people of color and women have achieved, she added. “Because if you don't see it, you may assume it's not happening,” she said.

Dr. Kang agrees that the portrait symbolizes inclusion and belonging. “Students as they walk upstairs to their classes now have an opportunity to see this. Applicants have an opportunity to tour our space now that we've gone back to in-person visits,” she said. “This is a statement about the value of inclusion; it speaks to Dr. Storey-Johnson's longstanding work in education and to the value that Weill Cornell Medicine places on the education mission. This portrait is a statement about the importance of training future leaders and innovators in the biomedical sciences and in medicine.”

After all, said Dr. Kang, innovation and advances in medicine and in patient care can only be accomplished through diversity of thought. “Dr. Storey-Johnson,” she said, “represents the kind of energy and diversity of thought that Weill Cornell values and cultivates.”

Dr. Storey-Johnson says she is proud of the portrait and of the lasting impression she has made on Weill Cornell Medicine, today and in the future. “The portrait is wonderful, and for me its major significance is the acknowledgment of the work that I did helping to transform the educational program,” she said. “I am also smiling in the portrait, an expression of welcome to all future students and faculty to the mission of medical education.”

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