Born in Dublin, Ireland, Lessa has a BS in Biology from Newcomb College and an MD from Tulane University. She is Chief Medical Officer for United Healthcare’s Medicaid Community and State Plan of Mississippi, and President of the international consulting firm Global Family Medicine, PLLC. She also teaches as Professor of Nursing and Professor Emeritus of Family Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Lessa was the first woman chosen to head a department at the UMMC School of Medicine, serving as the Chair of the Department of Family Medicine for 19 years. After retiring from the Medical Center in 2006, she received her Master of Public Health degree from San Jose State University in San Jose, California. Lessa was the 1992 Newcomb Alumna of the Year. She is also a Salzburg Fellow and Medical Policy Consultant to the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington D.C. and the state of Mississippi. She has designed and supervised ongoing cervical cancer screening programs in Ibadan, Nigeria for marketplace women, and started Ibadan University’s first cytotechnology training program.