Lucinda Maine: Her Path from The Plains to National Leadership

Lucinda Maine speaks at a lectern Lucinda Maine speaks at the AACP Annual Meeting (Photo courtesy of AACP).

July 24, 2018

AUBURN, Alabama – In May of 1977 a young pharmacy student from Auburn University walked into the New York Hilton. It took some convincing from her classmates, but she made the trip to the big city and was attending her first-ever American Pharmacists Association Annual Meeting. More than 40 years later, Lucinda Maine can point to that specific time as one that changed her career and her life.

A 1980 graduate of the Harrison School of Pharmacy, Maine is now the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), a position she has held for more than 15 years. Her position came after more than 10 years with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), where she was Senior Director for Pharmacy Affairs (1992-96), Senior Vice President for Professional Affairs (1996-98), Senior Vice President for Professional and Public Affairs (1998-2000), and finally Senior Vice President for Policy, Planning and Communication (2001-02). Her time in national pharmacy leadership came after 10 years in academia.

With more than 35 years as a faculty member and a national leader, Maine is a long way from where she thought she would be when she walked on Auburn’s campus in the fall of 1974. Having taken a liking to biology at a young age, she took the advice of a friend and applied to Auburn without ever having stepped foot on campus. Planning to major in laboratory technology once she reached The Plains, it was her stepfather who made a suggestion that changed her course.

“My step dad said to me just before I went up for orientation, ‘have you ever thought about pharmacy?’ I said, ‘no, not once, never,’ and he said, 'you need to go talk to the pharmacist,'” said Maine. That pharmacist was Charles Dart, an Auburn pharmacy graduate, who had a pharmacy in the Tillman’s Corner area near Mobile. “You could just tell that he loved what he did, so he gave me the classic line, ‘Oh yes, it’s great. Lucinda, you go to school for five years, get out and you make $20,000.’

“To say I never looked back from that point forward is an accurate representation,” said Maine. “I got to Auburn and changed my major to pre-pharmacy on the spot. Entered in September of 1974, was a gunner to get the grades to get into pharmacy school, applied two years later and the rest is history.”

Dart’s influence did not end at his sales pitch. Maine made her way back to his pharmacy in the summer after her freshman year, this time as an employee. “The decision was absolutely cemented at that point, I learned so much from him that summer,” said Maine. “I was behind the counter, I was playing the role of a technician, even though we didn’t call them technicians at that point in time. I was watching him, reading drug package inserts because they were so fascinating. I was familiarizing myself with manufacturers, products and appreciating the care he provided a pretty socio-economic diverse population there in Theodore/Tillman’s Corner.”

Her summers were a time that really shaped her from an experiential standpoint with internships following at the University of South Alabama Hospital, the Upjohn Company, and the Indian Health Service under Allen Brands. But, the relationships she made through APhA, both at Auburn and on the national level, made a significant impact on her.

“I joined APhA automatically because I’m a joiner, but it was there that I got involved with some of the current chapter leaders who were among those chief encouragers,” said Maine. “They encouraged me to go to my first national meeting and I attribute my attendance at that meeting in New York City in May of 1977 with shaping virtually every step of my career thereafter.”


Group photo

Maine pictured at far right in the Auburn Student APhA chapter photo from 1980. Pictured in front is faculty advisor Larry Thomasson, someone Maine described as "really instrumental in my life."


While assuming a national leadership role was not on her to-do list when she went to that meeting, the encouragement from her peers set her on that path.

“Things you don’t really recognize in yourself, especially as a younger person and as an undergraduate pharmacy student, I really depended a lot on some faculty who were excellent mentors who encouraged me to take on some things outside the classroom,” said Maine. “I always say, don’t let class interfere with your education and everybody just laughs, but it is true. There was so much of my professional development that occurred through my work locally and nationally in organizations that my career would not have taken the same steps or taken the same path had I not had those encouragements to be involved.”

Maine also credits timing as a key component in the direction of her career. A member of the first Auburn pharmacy class that was more than 50 percent female, she came along at a time when women were taking bigger roles in both practice and leadership. She is thankful the leadership at Auburn was at the forefront of that movement and allowed her to grow.

“It became so that the pharmacy piece overtook my entire life from a professional career development perspective and that was seeded at Auburn. It was all about Auburn,” said Maine. “The fact that my faculty there were willing to liberate this young girl from Mobile to step out on the national stage and were there kind of holding my back on what could have been thin ice, was instrumental. If I hadn’t had that, then I wouldn’t have gone to graduate school. I wouldn’t have then gotten my first, and then my second, and my third, and now my fourth job since I graduated. It is just really fundamentally all about Auburn.”

A lifelong leader in the pharmacy profession, Maine has gone on to earn accolades at all levels. At the age of 34, she became the youngest recipient in Alabama of the Bowl of Hygeia Award and in 2017, she was inducted into the Alabama Pharmacy Hall of Fame. In early 2018, it was announced she had earned the Gloria Niemeyer Francke Leadership Mentor Award, an award that recognizes an individual who has promoted and encouraged pharmacists to attain leadership positions within pharmacy through their example as a role model and mentor.

That role as a role model and mentor is something she takes seriously, particularly when it comes to encouraging women to take larger roles in the profession.

“I like to draw people’s attention to the fact that a Harvard University researcher studied how egalitarian a variety of different professions was. And her research demonstrated that pharmacy is the most egalitarian profession for women,” said Maine. “I really credit the profession’s leaders for that. I attribute my comfort level in my positions to the encouragement I got from my peers and faculty at Auburn and Dean Ben Cooper.

“We have proven that gender is not an issue or an obstacle to a very great extent. There are women in management, there are women in leadership, and there could be more, they need to be encouraged and cultivated because I think sometimes women still hold back a little bit. I just say, ‘come on girls, there is a lot of work to get done and let’s go do it.’

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About the Harrison School of Pharmacy

Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

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Last Updated: July 24, 2018