Claudia Fernandez, DrPH, MS, RD, LDN

Claudia S. Plaisted Fernandez, DrPH, MS, RD, LDN

Claudia Fernandez is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the co-author of It-Factor Leadership: Become a Better Leader in 13 Steps. Dr. Fernandez has extensive experience developing custom and nationally award winning executive education programs that focus on personal leadership development, innovation, and business skills for mid-to-senior level managers and leaders; three of her programs have been recognized as top leadership programs in the US. For the past decade she has directed the ACOG International Leadership Institute for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and has also served as the Director of the Leadership Core for the Food Systems Leadership Institute (, the flagship leadership program of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU). Dr. Fernandez serves as Co-Principal Investigator for the prestigious Leadership for Better Health—Clinical Scholars Fellowship, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She also served as Director and PI for the Maternal and Child Health-Public Health Leadership Institute ( She is certified in a wide range of leadership and psychological assessment tools, including 360 assessments and assessments that focus on organizational culture, inter-cultural competence, emotional intelligence, conflict, innovation and change. She also uses a variety of interactive simulation-based training in her work, around change, conflict, managing difficult conversations, collaboration and innovation. 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 earned her BS from Miami University of Ohio in 1986 and her MS from Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, in 1988. She then pursued further education in psychology and counseling at the Harvard University Extension School and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned her doctorate in leadership studies in 2003 through the Public Health Leadership Department. She worked in the Harvard teaching hospital system for more than five years before joining the Duke Center for Living in 1992. In 1997, she accepted a faculty position in the Department of Nutrition at UNC and subsequently worked at the North Carolina Institute for Public Health. In 2007, she joined the faculty in the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the renowned UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Contact Dr. Fernandez at