2010 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Dr. Lauren Dungy-Poythress

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Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Community Health Network

Sphere of Influence: As one of the nation’s leading perinatologists (caring for both the mother and fetus during pregnancies with a higher-than-normal risk of complications), Dungy-Poythress has “put Community on the map” as a leader in this highly specialized but critical field. She’s director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Community Health Network, and serves as a clinical consultant for Perinatal Perspectives, a publicaion of the Indiana Perinatal Network.

Poythress (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Everyone, at some point, is advised to follow their dreams. But members of Dr. Lauren Dungy-Poythress’ family took that old chestnut very, very seriously—and none more seriously than she. The younger sister of former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, she’s made a name for herself as one of the nation’s leading perinatologists. All because when she was a teenager her father, the first African-American professor at Jackson Community College in her hometown of Jackson, Mich., asked if she might consider becoming a doctor.

Dungy-Poythress undertook that challenge at a time when there were few female African-American role models for such an endeavor. By succeeding, she became a role model herself.

“A core message instilled in my siblings and me by our parents continues to serve as a theme for me as I speak locally and nationally,” says Dungy-Poythress, 48. “It is important for people to develop and follow their dreams. Where there is no vision, the people perish. We need to strive to be the best we can be, and not give up when things get difficult.”

In addition to serving as medical director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine for the Community Health Network of Indianapolis, Dungy-Poythress works with numerous programs relating to prenatal care. She’s honorary chairwoman for the Indiana Healthy Babies Consortium; a spokeswoman for the March of Dimes; and a board member for the Julian Center. She’s also a well-known motivational speaker who makes a point of encouraging young women to aspire to great things—things they might not have considered on their own. On one occasion she inspired a young woman maintaining a 4.0 GPA in an undergraduate nursing program to go to medical school.

As for her own professional world, Dungy-Poythress sees the demands on her management skills increasing as reforms sweep the world of medicine. “One of the biggest challenges will be keeping my staff focused, especially in this era of new health care reform,” she said. “I remind them that change is inevitable and that we must embrace it—and not fear change. We have to continue to provide competent, confident, compassionate, and consistent care to our patients and referring physicians.”

In her spare time Dungy-Poythress sticks close to her family: husband D. Wesley Poythress and daughters Lauren Danae, 12, and Davia, 9. Not surprisingly, she enjoys football.

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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...