Rice University Helps Cancer Center Build Leaders


The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is developing leaders in its fight against cancer, thanks, in part, to Rice University.

MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Leadership Institute is partnering with Rice University’s Doerr Institute for New Leaders to offer a program to train MD Anderson employees in how to elevate their capacity to lead.

CoachRICE: A Leadership Coaching Program is training 24 leaders from MD Anderson. CoachRICE provides 60 hours of training toward the International Coaching Federation (ICF) ACC credential from the International Coach Federation, the gold standard in executive coaching. The training program combines academic rigor and evidence-based techniques in a collaborative and inquiry-based environment.

The program supports the philosophy of servant leadership and the MD Anderson Leadership Institute’s Learn, Practice and Apply model of development in which leaders practice on the job what they have learned. MD Anderson leaders who graduate from CoachRICE will provide coaching throughout the institution with approximately three engagements a year.


The program started this winter and feedback from participants has been extremely positive with leaders citing their gratitude for the opportunity to be in the course and the strong foundation of coaching skills they are acquiring.

“The program marries great content, multiple opportunities to practice and observe coaching and time to reflect, all under the guidance of engaging and knowledgeable faculty,” said Ara Vaporciyan, a participant of the program and chair of MD Anderson’s Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. “It also provides the opportunity for building one’s own leadership skills. I am already using many of the skills I am learning to not just coach but to be more mindful and self-aware as I engage with my faculty and staff.”

Moving forward, two cohorts of CoachRICE will be offered to MD Anderson leaders every year. Through this program, MD Anderson intends to amplify a coaching culture within the institution, while simultaneously saving the institution hundreds of thousands of training dollars over time. MD Anderson is selecting participants for their business acumen, interpersonal skills and professionalism. The program addresses the various challenges of leaders, the methodology that supports change and development, and the impact of coaching leaders, both personally and professionally.


“I am impressed with the dedication and sacrifice these leaders have made to develop themselves and invest in others,” said Ruth Reitmeier, director of training for CoachRICE and assistant director of coaching at the Doerr Institute. “We believe that this partnership can have a powerful impact on workplace culture and that the trickle down effects of these changes can be widespread and long lasting.”

Tom Kolditz, excutive director of the Doerr Institute, added, “We treasure our association with the Leadership Institute at MD Anderson — a group of consummate professionals.”

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is devoted exclusively to cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. Its mission is to eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation and the world through outstanding programs that integrate patient care, research and prevention, and through education for undergraduate and graduate students, trainees, professionals, employees and the public. For more information, visit mdanderson.org.

The Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University is a leader development enterprise that was launched in 2015 to elevate the capacity of Rice students to lead. To learn more about Doerr and our programs for the community, visit https://doerrinstitute.rice.edu/.

— Courtney Holladay
Executive Director
Leadership Institute
MD Anderson


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