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Learning to embrace failure helped MHI alumna succeed

Alumna Jaclyn Pederson smiles at the camera. She's wearing a black blazer and is against an out of focus background

MHI Alumna Jaclyn Pederson

September 06, 2019

It’s the f word so many of us are afraid of—failure. That used to be the case for Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation alumna Jaclyn Pederson as well until she discovered not only is it okay to fail, it’s also inevitable. 

The 2012 Master of Healthcare Innovation graduate is currently the senior director of programs and strategic initiatives at the nonprofit Feeding Matters in Phoenix, Arizona where she advocates on behalf of families who have children with feeding disorders.

“We’re working to create a world in which children with pediatric feeding disorders thrive,” Pederson said. “I oversee the system changes that we are working to create in regards to improved education, improved advocacy efforts and research for this disorder.” 

In her role, Pederson relies heavily on the skills and knowledge she gained through her coursework and experience in the MHI program. Some of those tools include mind mapping, looking at things from a systems standpoint and discovering different ways to approach problems in order to make changes. 

But perhaps the most significant takeaway was a shift in her perspective about failure. She learned to not only become comfortable with it but also recognize failures for what they actually are, opportunities to grow.           

“There isn’t really a model to follow to change the system for pediatric feeding disorder and because of that we’re inventing new things all the time and we need to make sure it’s really making an impact. For us that means constant evaluation, that’s consistent feedback loops and that’s recognizing if something doesn’t work that we need to take a step back and move forward in a different direction. Sometimes nonprofits, especially, can be very nervous about that but because of my background in MHI, failure is okay. It just means we have more work to do.”

That awareness has helped Pederson be bold. Whether it’s leading workgroups to influence significant change to create a more equitable system for children with PFD or forging new strategic partnerships with professional organizations to help raise the profile of the disorder. She’s now at a place where the ‘f’ word she associates with the most is fearlessness.