Women of Distinction 2022: Spaulding Clinical

This special section features some of our city’s most accomplished female leaders. These women represent a wide range of fields, from finance and education to hospitality, beauty and more. Join us in saluting them in our fourth annual Women of Distinction section!

Cassandra Erato, CEO of Spaulding Clinical; Photo by Boutique Photographer Linda Smallpage


Cassandra Erato started her career as a registered nurse, working night shifts in an ICU. After going back to school to become a nurse practitioner, Erato, who is also the mother of six children, joined Spaulding Clinical Research as a clinical research coordinator in 2007. The company holds clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies who are testing and improving their products, such as novel drugs for cancer, heart disease and much more. After several years rising through the ranks in research and operations, Erato was named CEO in January 2020. As CEO, she has helped bring Spaulding to the top of its industry, shepherding life-saving drugs through clinical trials. “To see all of the innovations in science and medicine is like a sneak peek into the next 10 years,” she says. “It fills me with optimism every day.” 

“I always wanted a big family and I always wanted a fulfilling career, and I didn’t want to choose between the two.”


-Cassandra Erato


What was your path to Spaulding Clinical? 

My first job out of school was as a Registered Nurse working nights at a neuro ICU. Then I went back to school for my Master’s as a Nurse Practitioner. My father started Spaulding Clinical just as I became a Nurse Practitioner. I was drawn to the idea of starting something new, the opportunity to build something from the ground up. I was able to shape a lot of the initial operating procedures from scratch. In my first five years at Spaulding, I did every role in clinical operations. I then started managing the clinical operation and learned a lot more about business management for the next three years. By my eighth year, I was managing every aspect of clinical operations. And then in my tenth year, I became COO. I grew sales significantly and became CEO in 2020, about a month before the pandemic hit. Despite all the challenges, we’ve grown our revenue 166% since 2018 and become a major name in that short period of time. 

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome in your career? 

I was blessed with six children in the first nine years of my career at Spaulding Clinical. I always wanted a big family, and I always wanted a fulfilling career, and I didn’t want to choose between the two. My children and my husband are the center of my world. For at least 10 years I had room for nothing but family and the business. It took a lot of discipline, self-reflection and constant growth to balance all of that. But I wouldn’t trade that challenge for anything. 


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s November issue.

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