Sara Medley was taking her staff on a walking meeting Monday morning when an employee suggested they take a detour through the basement to move a bookcase.
Instead, Medley, CEO of Mountain-Pacific Quality Health, was surprised by dozens of her employees and representatives of the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce, who were waiting to present her with the 2017 Boss of the Year Award. Medley said it couldn’t have been more unexpected.
“That’s why I’m wearing these stupid tennis shoes,” she said.
Mountain-Pacific Quality Health is a nonprofit partnering with providers and patients to improve care. In Montana, the organization works with the Department of Health and Human service to review Medicaid cases to help patients get the services they need. Medley worked for the nonprofit for years, but took over as CEO five years ago.
She said the award was one of the most humbling moments of her career. Medley thanked her staff and said the award really belongs to them.
“You make my life truly worth living and make the lives of those we serve better,” Medley said to her staff.
Jason Davis, who presented the award on behalf of the Chamber, said the competition was steep this year. But Medley stood out from the pack after an outpouring of feedback from her staff, who called her motivating and wonder woman, and said she takes a personal interest in each one of her employees.
Medley said she’s worked to foster a family-first environment. She also said her leadership style is to hire people who are smarter than she is and remove barriers and let them work. She also said 90 percent of Mountain-Pacific Quality Health employees are women. While women generally work in health care jobs more often than men, Medley said their numbers are not typical and attributed it to ensuring women are given equal pay for equal work.
With reassurance from her team, Medley said her goal is to make sure the health care improvement work Mountain-Pacific Quality Health does is long-lasting.
“I just have to make sure that shows,” she said. “And that we’re at the top of the heap, always.”