Dr. Tessa Churchill is a member of the KCA’s Board of Directors and currently works as a Resident in Anesthesiology at The Feinberg School of Medicine.
We spoke with Dr. Churchill about serving on the Board and her work in medicine.
What motivated you to get involved with the Kidney Cancer Association?
As a physician, I frequently see how kidney cancer affects the patients that are diagnosed with it. I’ve had multiple family members die of rare diseases and have witnessed first-hand how providing patients with resources and support is imperative to helping them cope with these diseases. My years as a healthcare management consultant taught me that organizational improvement can help an even greater number of patients than just the one-on-one interactions you might have as a clinician. My goal of making these improvements which impact patients on a larger scale has led me to pursue endeavors which place me at the intersection of business and medicine. When I learned about the Kellogg Board Fellows program, which allows business school students to serve on a non-profit board in an advisory capacity, I jumped at the opportunity to work with the KCA. It was this work that led me to become invested in the advancement of the organization.
How long have you worked with the KCA?
I first started working with the KCA in 2016 as part of the Board Fellows program at Kellogg, and officially joined the board in March 2019.
What is your favorite travel destination and why?
My favorite travel destination is Italy because of my family connections to the area. My mother was born in Italy and we still have family living in and near Rome, so we spent many summers visiting as I was growing up. I still love returning to enjoy the culture, food and wine.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I like to explore new restaurants and shows. I love comedy shows and living in Chicago has allowed me to visit several different venues. I also love farmer’s markets. On Saturday mornings in the summer you can find me buying fresh flowers and vegetables at the farmer’s market in Lincoln Park.
What is one thing most people do not know about you?
When I was in high school, we were tasked to practice something for long enough to consider ourselves a “master” of that skill. I chose cake decorating and spent the next six months making a cake a week and practicing different icing and decorating techniques. (I would then bring the cakes in to school which made all my friends happy.) The culmination was a tiered cake complete with an elaborate design of roses and greenery. I don’t use this skill very often anymore, so people are always surprised when I arrive with a well-decorated cake I made myself.
What prompted/inspired you to go into the medical field?
My dad was an OB/GYN and I was always inspired by how he was able to help his patients, and how grateful they were for his help. We couldn’t leave the house without one of his patients approaching us to say hi. He encouraged my interest in science and when he was diagnosed with ALS prior to my starting college, I was driven to study Neuroscience. This eventually was a segue for me to pursue medical school to honor his memory as a doctor after he passed away.