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New Podcast: Go Behind the Mask with U.S. Health Care Leaders

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

The Aspen Institute’s Health Innovators Fellowship is excited to share a new three-episode podcast miniseries, Aspen Health Innovators: Behind the Mask. Join fellow Indu Subaiya as she speaks with U.S. health care leaders—all members of the Aspen Health Innovators Fellowship—to learn how they’re leading through these turbulent times. Explore the episode guide below!

Episode Guide:

Medical Marijuana CEO & COVID Nurse for the Navajo Nation | Rachael Speegle

When the coronavirus took hold in the U.S., medical marijuana organizations got mixed messages. In many states, they were deemed essential businesses and needed to stay open, but, without federal legalization, these businesses were ineligible for federal aid. This left leaders in the cannabis industry with the dual challenge of supporting the needs of customers and employees while fighting for the very survival of their businesses. At the same time, the strengthening of the racial justice movement amplified questions around the industry’s history and racial divides between profit and punishment.

In this episode, go behind the mask with Rachael Speegle, volunteer COVID nurse and CEO of the Verdes Foundation, an Albuquerque-based company that cultivates, processes, and distributes medical cannabis.

We talk about the medical marijuana industry, her call to serve others affected by COVID-19, and how the unrest following the murder of George Floyd sparked her to reevaluate how she leads her organization.


COVID Doctor, Medical Diagnostics CEO & Red Blood Cell Scientist | Patrick Hines

Medical professionals on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight are answering a call of duty that comes with a price. To care for patients, many must avoid loved ones to protect them from the risks of exposure. Add in a racial justice reckoning across the country and, especially for Black physicians, this is a time when their families, particularly their children, may need them most.

In this episode, go behind the mask with one of those physicians: Patrick Hines, a pediatric critical care doctor and the Founder & CEO of Functional Fluidics, a blood function diagnostics company based in Detroit, Michigan.

We talk about Patrick’s experience as a clinician and scientist during COVID-19, how he used his intersectional role in the medical field to step up, and what it’s been like these past few months as the father of two young Black boys during the continued struggle for racial justice.


Medtronic Executive & Chair of African Descent Employee Resource Group | Nnamdi Njoku

After the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020, citizens across the country who hadn’t previously engaged with the longstanding struggle for racial justice began to ask, “What’s my role and responsibility?” It’s no surprise that, in the city where George Floyd lost his life—Minneapolis, Minnesota—this question echoed throughout the community.

In this episode, go behind the mask with Nnamdi Njoku, VP & General Manager of Transformative Solutions at Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology, services, and solutions based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

We talk about Nnamdi’s 15-year career path at Medtronic and his role as chair of Medtronic’s African Descent Network. We began our conversation with Nnamdi shortly after George Floyd’s death in May, and we get into how he and the company have responded to support its employees after an event that hit so close to home.

The views and opinions of the speakers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Aspen Institute.

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