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2017 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Yolanda Johnson-Moton

Director of Medical External Relations, Eli Lilly and Co.

November 2, 2017
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(Photo/Eric Learned)

Since joining Eli Lilly and Co., Johnson-Moton has launched education and engagement platforms, including the Lilly for Better Health website, and brought the company to YouTube via Lilly Health Channel. “Many people didn’t understand who we were—all of the evidence-based medicine and regulatory processes were virtually unknown. I felt we had an obligation to do something about that.”

Rising up: Not only did Johnson-Moton earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana University and Indiana Wesleyan University, she also partnered in an entrepreneurial fashion company while in college. “We saw sweatshirts and track suits that were bedazzled and we said, ‘We can do that.’” Success allowed her to pay cash for college and then cash in the business. Pharmaceutical sales came next at Mead Johnson, Ciba-Geigy and Apria Healthcare. In 1998, she joined Merck, where she helped establish lipid clinics to manage patients’ cholesterol and heart disease. 

johnson-moton-box.gifInspirational moment: Serving on Indiana Black Expo’s State of our Black Youth subcommittee and serving on the board of the Wheeler-Dowe Boys and Girls Club “inspired me to be an agent for change and to understand, no matter what your role or position in life, you can lead from that seat and make a difference. I want to ensure our youth, especially at-risk youth, have equal access to knowledge and opportunities.”

Mentors: “Robert Smith, vice president of the Lilly Foundation, instilled in me a sense of responsibility to be proud of who I am and of the company for which I work.” And Ora Pescovitz, former leader of Lilly U.S. Medical Biomedicines, offered advice and knowledge “that helped me navigate uncharted waters with a level of assurance, knowing that, regardless of the outcome, I gave my best.”

Point of pride: As an advocate for inclusion, she feels “a great sense of gratitude that my company allows me to create programs and collaborations to address the dearth of underrepresented minorities in health care.” Her greatest source of pride comes from giving back to at-risk youth, whether in an organized mentorship, Girl Talk Inc. sessions, or impromptu conversations. “Seeing them take steps for self-improvement makes me proud.”

Givebacks: Johnson-Moton represents Lilly on the American Academy of Family Physicians Corporate Roundtable, the American Medical Association Corporate Roundtable, the American Osteopathic Association Corporate Advisory Board, and is chairwoman of the board for Girl Talk. “Given a demanding role and travel schedule, I try to contribute where I believe I have passion for the cause, and can have the greatest impact in giving of my time, talent and treasure.”

Inspirational singer: Chaka Khan. “I would get my brush, blow dry my hair so it was all over my head—she liked messy hair—and turn on the record player and sing my heart out and I felt like I could conquer the world.” 

Favorite place in central Indiana: “Lucas Oil Stadium … Colts, Baby!”

Click here for more honorees.

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