Bright Lights: Bluebird Leaders with Rebecca Woods
Bright Lights is an ongoing series that highlights the activities, causes, and passions that fall outside of Inlightened Experts’ dedicated day jobs, and truly set them apart. These initiatives represent experts’ abilities to transform their interests and experience into meaningful ventures that drive positive change. This installment of Bright Lights features Rebecca Woods, MHA, PM, and Bluebird Leaders, the nonprofit she launched to empower women in Health IT.
How did Bluebird Leaders come to be? Take us from idea to execution.
Bluebird Leaders has been a passion and ambition of mine for years. Ultimately, I wanted to create a space specifically for women in health information technology (health IT). A space to bring awareness to the phenomenon that most healthcare workers are women, but they are the minority in both leadership and IT. I want to bring more women — the largest sector of the healthcare workforce — not only into health IT, but also to executive leadership teams. All too often, I am the only woman in the room when the C-suite or Directors meet. As I was coming up the ranks in health IT, I was very fortunate to have had several amazing mentors along the way who inspired me. Now, it’s time to give back and set the example so that we can see more young women entering and succeeding in health IT. Something about 2022 felt like the right time, so Bluebird Leaders was launched!
Bluebird Leaders is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides women working in health IT with the education, training, and networking they need to spread their wings and fly high in their careers, regardless of their backgrounds and individual differences. I founded it with a commitment to helping the next generation of amazing women soar to great heights, while engaging with accomplished women currently working in health IT. Through workshops, conferences, virtual meetups, and coaching/mentoring sessions, Bluebird Leaders aims to advance and accelerate the role of women in health IT-related careers.
The health IT industry has traditionally been male-dominated, and lacking in diversity and female leadership, which is similar to the healthcare industry overall. Currently, only 33% of senior leadership positions at U.S. hospitals are held by women and only 4% of women of color are at the C-suite level. But the gender gap is beginning to narrow as more women aspire to lead in the healthcare industry and drive change.
Change is inevitable. At Bluebird Leaders, helping people through change is our passion. We provide the resources, community, and inspiration women need to be health IT leaders and experts. We encourage our colleagues to start by asking “Why?” Constant curiousity helps the best lean process emerge and bring about change, which benefits both the IT and clinical functions of an organization.
Can you provide a brief overview of your mission?
Mission: To advance and accelerate the role of women in health IT-related careers.
Vision: That women from all backgrounds working in tech will soar to great heights in their professional achievements.
- Sociable – Providing a community where women of diverse backgrounds can gather in the health IT space
- Open-minded – Encouraging women to be creative and think “outside the box” to find new, innovative solutions
- Ambitious – Advocating and mentoring women as they rise to leadership positions in health IT
- Relentless – Providing women with the knowledge, confidence, and courage to ask the tough questions and challenge the status quo
Tell us more about Bluebird Leaders’ target audience.
It sounds ambitious, but the plan is to include all industries, specialties, women, and yes, men too. To create the change we are striving for, it will take an all-hands-on deck approach. Bluebird Leaders encompasses the entire ecosystem starting with education systems, healthcare industries, vendors, human resources, and individuals because every element is vital to the success of all.
What key milestones has Bluebird Leaders accomplished to date?
- Launched Bluebird Leaders, 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
- Launched website.
- Hosting 1st Annual S.O.A.R. Conference November 3-4, 2022 in Portsmouth, NH, where we anticipate over 250 attendees, sponsors, vendors, and speakers.
- We look forward to launching our mentor/mentee program and expanding the size of our first annual conference in 2023.
Can you share an example of Bluebird Leaders’ impact?
The following are some “treetop testimonials”, from women who have soared to great heights and achieved professional success in health IT.
Rebecca L. Brown, RN, BSN
“Rebecca empowered me to expand my lens, march forward with intention, and put forth the strength necessary to become a more diverse healthcare professional with IT expertise.”
“My professional relationship with Rebecca Woods spans almost a decade and I am so grateful for her leadership and guidance that has helped me to broaden my scope of practice. Integrating the world of information technology as a clinical analyst and Registered Nurse was a destination that I never imagined for my future. Rebecca empowered me to expand my lens, march forward with intention, and put forth the strength necessary to become a more diverse healthcare professional. Rebecca had a vision for my future that was remarkable and trusting, which in turn gave me the bandwidth to explore my potential.”
“Rebecca saw leadership skills in me before I saw leadership skills in myself.”
“I have known Rebecca for more than 10 years. She saw leadership skills in me before I saw leadership skills in myself – she pushed me out of my comfort zone because she knew I could do it. She has a lot of drive and passion as a leader. She also provided me with training opportunities to be successful. I am grateful for the time that I worked for Rebecca and can see her thriving in the future helping other female leaders.”
“Rebecca was critical in my foundational understanding of bridging the gap between technology and the human aspect, helping me to see that not everyone speaks the IT language.”
“Rebecca was also critical in my foundational understanding of bridging the gap between technology and the human aspect. Not everyone speaks the IT language so providing that translation allowed her to convey the needs of the organization in a way that leadership would understand. Rebecca taught me that building the team that surrounds you is critical to your success as a leader, and I continue to leverage that stance to this day. Lastly, but certainly not least, she demonstrated that it was acceptable to challenge the status quo. For example, including more women in the technology field and challenging long standing processes to find digital solutions.”
How can people get involved?
Rebecca Woods, MHA, PM, is an accomplished senior executive, with more than 15 years of experience in health IT and healthcare administration. She is Founder and virtual Chief Information Officer of Bluebird Tech Solutions, and Founder of Bluebird Leaders. With experience spanning startups, nonprofits, rural health networks, regional hospital systems, and federally qualified health centers, Rebecca boasts a successful track record of technical implementations that include EMR, telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, and central access centers. She previously served as VP and CIO for the University of Vermont’s Porter Medical Center, and VP of Provider Services for Lakes Region General Healthcare, a network of 25 ambulatory primary care and specialty practices. Rebecca is most passionate about bridging the gap between technological and clinical mindsets, and is uniquely accustomed to partnering with frontline providers in order to maximize efficiency and drive process improvement.