CEO’s Corner – Meet Incoming NAACLS Chief Executive Officer, Marisa James

(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

As NAACLS prepares for a board meeting and a new review cycle, we also are working behind the scenes transitioning from the current NAACLS CEO, Dr. Dianne Cearlock, to our incoming CEO, Ms. Marisa James. Ms. James was in Chicago with all of NAACLS staff to ensure a seamless leadership transition. During that busy week, Marisa found time to answer a few questions so our program directors and volunteers could get to know her better.

Please provide a brief synopsis of your professional background:

I graduated in 2002 with a degree in Medical Technology which included attending the MT Program at North Kansas City Hospital. The Program Director at NKCH and I knew each other really well since I ran track at the University of Central Missouri where I went to college and he volunteered at their meets. Long story short, after graduation from MT School and working as an MT for a few months, I decided to pursue additional education.  As my mentor, the NKCH PD encouraged me to pursue my Master’s degree and take his Program Director position, so he could retire. He mentored me for a year before I took over full-time in 2006 at the ripe old age of 27.

I have been an active member of both ASCP and ASCLS. In particular, I have been a part of several ASCP selection committees: Student Scholarships, Program Director grants, 40 under Forty awards (Top 40 winner in 2014, its inaugural year), and ASCP annual meeting travel grants. With ASCLS, I have been a part of two CLEC planning committees and I have spoken at the past three CLECs.

How long did you serve on the NAACLS BOD? What positions did you hold?

I went to my first BOD meeting in 2017. I completed my first four-year term last Fall. I have been the Chair of the Review Process Committee, Distinguished Award Committee, Secretary, and Vice President.

What goals do you have as the NAACLS CEO?

The biggest goal is to continue our mission of being the premier accrediting agency for clinical laboratory sciences. We will accomplish this with an exceptional staff coupled with competent and engaged volunteers, which includes our Review Committees and Board of Directors. Additionally, we would like to increase the number of NAACLS programs. This means increasing the numbers of accredited programs we already have as well as developing new NAACLS programs.

Please list 3 things that are likely to impact NAACLS and its programs the most for the next few years:

  • Staffing shortages may affect the student’s ability to obtain clinical laboratory time
  • Program Director and/or Faculty shortages
  • Reimbursement cuts may affect hospital-based program budgets and financial cut backs in academia may affect budgets for University-based programs

Please tell us about your family:

My husband Steve and I have been married almost 20 years. We met in college. We have two kids–Lila and Grant. Lila will be a freshman in High School. Grant will start Middle School (7th grade) this Fall. Berlin is our German Shepherd mix doggo. She is the glue that holds the family together.

What do you like to do for recreation and fun?

I will do nearly anything to spend time with my teenagers. Steve and I try to have dinner as a family at least a few nights per week, but it gets tough will all of the activities they do. Sometimes ice cream nights count! Lila and I will do puzzles together and I can usually drag her with me on errands because I often cave when she wants a cookie, a coffee, or a new shirt. Grant and I watch Marvel and Star Wars movies together. We also have a pop-a-shot and ping pong table that we trash talk and play together. I love taking Berlin for a walk or jog or to the dog park if I have quiet time. Steve and I like going out to eat at new places (most recently in Chicago) and have been known to hit a brewery or cocktail bar on occasion.

How would you complete the following sentence: “The thing most people would find interesting about me is ….?”

I don’t know if this is all that interesting, but I rarely watch movies unless it’s with my son. If I see something (a show or movie) I want to watch, I look to see if it’s been made into a book and read it instead. This way I am semi-with it when it comes to pop culture and I can carry on a conversation with someone who binges on shows or is an avid movie watcher.

Please feel free to reach out to Ms. James as we welcome her as Chief Executive Officer! For the original announcement, please see our NAACLS News post from April.

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