October 26, 2015
2015 Outstanding Women in Business

2015 Outstanding Women In Business: Joyce Murphy, Commonwealth Medicine

Matt Volpini
Joyce A. Murphy Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Commonwealth Medicine

VIEW: 2015 Outstanding Women In Business: Joyce Murphy, Commonwealth Medicine

Joyce A. Murphy is executive vice chancellor and the chief executive of Commonwealth Medicine, the healthcare consulting division of UMass Medical School, where she works with state agencies, businesses and nonprofits to increase the effectiveness of health and human services programs.

"She is one of the most optimistic people I have ever met. She is part Mother Teresa and part Eleanor Roosevelt," said UMMS Chancellor Michael Collins.

Prior to joining UMMS in 2006, Murphy was president of Carney Hospital, a community teaching hospital in Dorchester for nine years, where she spearheaded legislation to compensate hospitals such as Carney for their disproportionate share of caring for the uninsured. In 2005, Murphy received the Massachusetts Hospital Association's William L. Lane Hospital Advocate Award for her advocacy on behalf of Carney Hospital and the impact of her work on the community.

"There is no problem she has encountered that she hasn't seen the solution to," Collins said.

Murphy is a strong advocate for advancing women in the workplace, and she is a sought-after mentor for women entering leadership roles. She is an active member of The Boston Club, the International Women's Forum and the Massachusetts Women's Forum, and serves as a chair for the Schwartz Center's annual Celebration of Women in Health Care event. She is vice chair of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Board of Directors; and serves on the Curry College and Schwartz Center boards, the Health Policy Commission Advisory Council and the Treasurer's Advisory Committee on Wage Equality.

A graduate of the UMass Boston, Murphy was the 2010 recipient of UMass Boston's Education for Service Award. She has a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, where she received the Bradford Fellowship for Excellence in Public Service, and holds an honorary Doctorate of Public Administration from Curry College.

Who is your most influential role model?

The life of my grandmother Delia Kelly has been a profound influence, and one of the factors that fuels my desire to help those who are struggling.

Delia was in her early 30s when she lost one of her four children. Not long after, her husband died. As an immigrant from Ireland, Delia had no savings, insurance or other means of financial support. and limited education.

With these dire circumstances and three daughters to care for, Delia persuaded the local banker to give her a loan, She bought a large house in Brookline and turned it into a rooming house. Her ability to figure out a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem ensured that she had enough income to keep her family together.

What has helped you achieve success in your career?

I have achieved success by being true to myself and finding joy and happiness in who I am and what I do. If I can make a difference in the lives of others, particularly people who are vulnerable and not receiving the support they need, I am truly fulfilled. I entered college as an education major, but after volunteering in Mission Hill teaching second-graders to read, I changed my major because the circumstances of a boy named Derek had a profound effect on me and inspired me to work in the family court system after college graduation. This led to a position at a residential treatment facility for emotionally disturbed girls and ever-more challenging roles in a variety of prison settings, culminating in my becoming superintendent of MCI-Framingham at age 29.

What's your primary motivation?

Passionate about fixing inequities, I am a committed advocate for providing health care for the underserved. This has been the major theme of my career, and through much of my involvement with community organizations.

What role have you played in your organization's efforts to give back to the community?

I strive every day to ensure that Commonwealth Medicine acts creatively to develop programs that benefit the community, because public service is at the heart of our mission.

We created the Work Without Limits program to provide job counseling and employment opportunities for disabled adults. Our goal is to position Massachusetts as the first state in the nation where the employment rate of people with disabilities is equal to that of the general population.

In partnership with the Department of Public Health, we have operated the New England Newborn Screening Program since 1997.

How do you deal with stress?

At Commonwealth Medicine, I visit with our community case management team, who are charged with managing the needs of medically complex children living at home. It is rewarding, and sometimes heartbreaking, to hear from the team how these kids are doing. I get re-energized and my conversations with them drive home the importance of helping underserved populations.

How have you tried to balance your career and your personal life?

I pay close attention to my calendar to ensure I set aside time for family and friends – that's exceedingly important to me. I have a house on Cape Cod and get down there as often as I can. I love to hike, particularly in the Blue Hills, in the fall, and I own two horses – who wish I rode them more often!

Meet the rest of the 2015 Outstanding Women in Business

Roberta Brien, vice president of projects, Worcester Business Development Corp.

Linda Cavaioli, executive director, YWCA of Central Massachusetts

Susan Gunnell, executive vice president & COO, Southbridge Savings Bank

Susan Lawrence, co-owner, Pepper's Fine Catering

Naureen Meraj, senior global director, NTT Data

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