Women’s History Month: A Leader’s Story

Every March, we celebrate National Women’s History Month, and 2024’s theme is women who advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion. According to the National Women’s History Alliance, “the theme recognizes women throughout the country who understand that, for a positive future, we need to eliminate bias and discrimination entirely from our lives and institutions.”

At ForHealth Consulting at UMass Chan Medical School, we are so proud of all our strong women colleagues and recognize those from diverse backgrounds and those who advocate for inclusion across the board.

My journey started when I immigrated to the United States as a young child. As managing director of Healthcare Finance Solutions at ForHealth Consulting, I made education a priority in my life, so I could dedicate myself to public service and help everyone in our community.

I immigrated to the U.S. in 1971 from Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Acores (Azores, Portugal) with my mom and two older sisters. My mother never learned to speak English, so my sisters and I were the chief translators and advocates for our family. At 7 years old, I remember accompanying my mother to a social service agency in New Bedford, Mass., looking for fuel assistance and translating what my mother said to the social worker.

We walked away from that appointment with no assistance because my mother’s income was too high. While we were living on the margins, we were still not poor enough to get help. That was more than 45 years ago, and though our public policies have evolved since then, there is still much progress to be made. This part of my life drove me to being in public service. At ForHealth Consulting, I am proud that we work to bridge this gap for those who need services, especially new arrivals to this country.

Education was my way out of poverty. My mother had a fourth-grade education and did the best she could in this country, but she couldn’t be an active and engaged parent in my education. She still did everything she could to help me and has always served as an inspiration to me.

After graduating in the top 10 percent of my high school class, I was accepted to what is now UMass Dartmouth to study political science and further my dream of making a difference by working in public service—to be a voice for those who had none, to help those experiencing discrimination and bias, and to make things better for those who needed support. I lived at home and worked part-time at the New Bedford Public Library to pay for college, but it was worth it.

After graduation, I secured a job as a congressional caseworker helping individuals through the immigration process. As an immigrant, I was proud to support people who found themselves on the margins as well. After I completed my master’s program, I started a job at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance where I learned first-hand how public finance and public policy have the power to transform lives.

At ForHealth Consulting, we exemplify this transformative power every day in the work we do. In the spirit of this year’s Women’s History Month, we advocate for those underrepresented communities who often cannot always do so for themselves. We are committed to work hard to eliminate bias and discrimination and push for health equity.

Mentoring has had a very powerful impact on my life, and I have always had philosophy of “paying it forward.” I have felt very supported in my career, and my mentors are still a huge part of my life; as such, I have never passed up an opportunity to share what I have learned from others with anyone who is looking for advice. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is important to share our unique knowledge with others, especially those advancing in their careers.

This March, I encourage us to remember the contributions of all women in society and exclude no one in our common quest for freedom and opportunity. Through education, mentorship, and advocacy we can hopefully achieve our dreams of a truly equitable society that values all our members.