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Serving by welcoming all voices

June 16, 2024
by Daryn David

A blog post "On Leadership"

In the latest Yale Child Study Center (YCSC) “On Leadership” blog post and newsletter column, Daryn David, PhD reflects on a recent YCSC Grand Rounds session she hosted with Nii Addy, PhD, who serves as the Albert E. Kent Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Yale. A recording of the session is available via the link at the bottom of this page.

Fashioning an unconventional career as a research scientist takes major guts! The choice to work outside the box, open oneself to perspectives not usually heard within academic medicine, and to embrace the challenges of translating findings to audiences from all sorts of backgrounds were some of the active ingredients I heard most resonantly in Dr. Nii Addy’s YCSC “On Leadership” Grand Rounds talk at the end of April.

In sharing how he bridges the numerous divides between neuroscience research on addiction and mental health dialogue within communities of faith, Dr Addy explained his resistance to flaunting his expertise. Instead, he spoke to his willingness to gauge and speak to his audience from within their own worldview, rather than imposing either a wholly scientific or religious one upon them.

It is not that Dr. Addy lacks the scientific credentials to speak with authority about the biology of addiction. He currently serves as the Albert E. Kent Associate Professor of Psychiatry and is an internationally respected scholar within his field.

Rather, what I find so compelling about Dr. Addy’s approach to his life’s work is the compassion, respect, and humility he demonstrates while embracing the meaning his stakeholders bring to their own experiences.

At one point during his talk, Dr. Addy described interacting with a father whose new-found understanding of the biology of addiction helped him to empathize more strongly with his child’s struggles. For many scholars, this ‘conversion’ to a more scientific viewpoint might feel like a success – but in the same breath, Dr. Addy spoke about using his podcast, the Addy Hour, to embrace and elevate the lived experiences of faith leaders, their communities, and public figures including entertainers and athletes, all of whom may have equally compelling, albeit not exclusively scientific, explanations of their own mental health circumstances.

In opening himself to the ambiguities of these many truths and by endorsing a holistic, nonjudgmental perspectives on the pursuit of mental wellness, I believe that Dr. Addy provides us a wonderful example of a leader putting responsiveness, respect, and service to his many stakeholders first.

The On Leadership blog was launched in 2022 to address the importance of connection, collaboration, and embodying a service leadership mindset in professional and personal contexts. YCSC Assistant Professor Daryn H. David, PhD directs the column and serves as associate director for leadership development in the Yale School of Medicine (YSM) Offices of Academic and Professional Development and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.

Submitted by Crista Marchesseault on May 14, 2024