Dr. Claudia Fernandez

Claudia S. Plaisted Fernandez, DrPH

Department of Maternal and Child Health
ACOG National Leadership Institute
Director, Leadership Core
Food Systems Leadership Institute
Co-PI and Co-Director
Clinical Scholars


Dr. Claudia Fernandez is the co-author of It-Factor Leadership: Become a Better Leader in 13 Steps. Since 2016, she has been the Co-Director and Co PI of Clinical Scholars, and recently oversaw the publication of the book, Community Based Changes in the Culture of Health in the US: Experiences in Developing the Team and Impacting the Community (2021, InTech Publishers), documenting impacts from the funded projects in the Clinical Scholars program. Since 2006 she has directed the ACOG National Leadership Institute for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Since 2005 she has served as the Director of the Leadership Core for the Food Systems Leadership Institute (www.FSLI.org), the flagship leadership program of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) which is targeted to academic Deans, Heads, and Vice Presidents, industry and government leaders. FSLI was named 2nd and 3rd place nationally for Open Enrollment and Custom Leadership Program in the Leadership Excellence in 2016. In 2015 Dr. Fernandez was named Co-Principal Investigator for the Advancing Change Leadership—Clinical Scholars National Leadership Program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr. Fernandez is also a licensed and Registered Dietitian, and as such has a particular interest in leadership in healthcare systems and high-performing healthcare and public health teams. 

Dr. Fernandez has published her research outcomes, demonstrating the impact and effectiveness of her leadership programs. She is certified in a wide variety of leadership assessment tools and teaches a course on leadership.

Claudia Fernandez in the Gillings News

Honors and Awards

2015, HR.com

Leadership Excellence Awards
2016, Food Systems Leadership Institute named 2nd in U.S. for Open Enrollment Continuing Education with an Emphasis in Leadership and 3rd in the U.S. for Custom Content Programming in Continuing Education with an Emphasis on Leadership and Organizational Development, in partnership with NC State University

Representative Courses

MCH/PUBH 790 Fundamentals of Leadership

Research Activities

Dr. Fernandez actively researches both the outcomes of the leadership institute programs in which she is involved and also how to effectively deliver executive development programs.

Service Activities

2015-present  Chair of MCH Adjunct Professor's Committee

Practice Activities

Dr. Fernandez is Co-PI, Advancing Change Leaders/Leadership for Better Health--Clinical Scholars, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program to support the Culture of Health in the United States.

Key Publications

Training “pivots” from the pandemic: a comparison of the Clinical Scholars Leadership Program in-person vs. virtual synchronous training. Fernandez CSP, Green M, Noble CC, Brandert K, Donnald K, Walker MR*, Henry E*, Rosenberg A, Dave G, Corbie-Smith G. (2021). Journal of Healthcare, 13.
View publication

Examining individual leader development: A qualitative analysis of the Maternal and Child Health Public Health Leadership Institute (MCH PHLI). Fernandez CSP, Noble CC, Garman L*. (2021). Maternal and Child Health Jouranl, 25.
View publication

Reflections on the contributions of self-advocates to an interdisciplinary leadership development program for graduate students in health affairs. . Rosenberg A, Zuver D, Kermon S, Fernandez C, Margolis L.  (2018). Disability and Health Journal, 11(2), 293-297.

Understanding Disinformation, Disruption, and Reputational Attacks. Claudia Fernandez (2018). FastTrack Leadership Digital Media.

An examination of the self-directed online leadership learning choices of public health professionals: the MCH PHLI experience. Fernandez CSP, Noble C, Jensen E.  (2017). Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, 23(5), 454-460.

A retrospective study of academic leadership skill development, retention and use: The experience of the Food Systems Leadership Institute. Fernandez CSP, Noble CC, Jensen ET, Martin L, Stewart M. (2017). Journal of Leadership Education, 15(2), 150-171.

Improving leadership skills in physicians: a six month retrospective study. . Fernandez CSP, Noble CC, Jensen ET, Chapin J. (2016). Journal Leadership Studies, 9(4), 6-19.


  • DrPH, Public Health Leadership / Health Policy and Administration, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2003
  • Post-Maste, Psychology, UNC-CH, 1995
  • Post-Maste, Psychology, Institute for Health Psychology, 1994
  • Post-Maste, Psychology, Harvard University Extension School, 1991
  • Post-Maste, Behavioral Medicine, The Institute of Behavioral Medicine New England Deaconess Hospital, 1990
  • MS, Clinical Nutrition, Boston University, 1988
  • BS, Dietetics / Nutrition, Miami University, 1986