Libby Perry, MPH, CPHQ, director, Performance Improvement at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. (Courtesy of Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center)

We are honoring women leaders in healthcare as part of Women’s History Month. Today, we’re sharing a conversation with Libby Perry, MPH, CPHQ, director, Performance Improvement at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center.

Libby was born right here at our medical center and grew up in Bangor, receiving all her care here, and having her children here. This truly is her hospital, from her first moments to now.

Libby worked in Boston before she moved home to Bangor in 2014. Her first job at Northern Light Health was lead quality analyst in the Medical Group Quality Improvement department and now is the director of Performance Improvement at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center.

Who inspired you to be a leader?
I have always had leadership in my life; my parents and grandparents were very active in the community. My dad was on the city council when I was little, and seeing how deeply involved they were, choosing to spend their time helping others and giving back to our community was really inspiring as a child.

Leadership comes naturally to me. I’ve always found that whatever I join, or whatever I do, has always helped me remember those experiences when I was younger of my family being leaders in their communities.

What are the benefits to having women in leadership?
We all bring different voices, experiences, approaches, and tones to any conversation or challenge. The ability to view situations through different lenses to anticipate outcomes or variables is helpful. It’s important to make sure that everyone is represented. I think women bring a very important vision to any leadership decision. I think there are a lot of women who have had experiences that are unique, and it gives the opportunity to explore other ways of solving problems.

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
I would continue to push her to think about what other people have done in their career paths, but not necessarily lock yourself in to be just like someone else. What has worked for someone else may not work for you. If you try a new job and it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out and you try something else. Don’t give yourself so much pressure to come up with the right answer all the time. Just continue to let yourself take opportunities as they come. Trust your instincts, and don’t necessarily feel like you must have your whole life prescribed for you. Find what is best suited for you at the time with the people around you.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female healthcare leaders?
Don’t always assume the answer is given. Give yourself permission to come up with a solution that will be beneficial and learn how to ask the right questions. Continue to be vulnerable, and find ways in your professional career to learn and advance, and continue to push yourself to ask, “Could this be done differently? How do I have respectful dialogue about what I need personally, and professionally, to continue to be a good team member?” Sometimes the answer is finding a different role. I think the ability to talk about it and work with your leader to find what helps you and what makes you beneficial to the team is probably the best advice I could give.What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

It hasn’t been all that long that women have been able to vote in this country. The ability to recognize how far we’ve come but realize how far there is left to go without getting discouraged is crucial. There is a lot of incredible work that needs to continue to happen for women, especially those from diverse and nonwhite backgrounds who are still not at the table and deserve to be. How do we continue to push and encourage others to see themselves in those roles? Without the ability to see yourself at the table because it’s never been done before is where we need to continue to work hard and drive that message across this organization, our state, and our nation. We still have work to do and if I have influenced or can do something to help with these challenges for other women, then I am proud to be a part of that challenge.