February 27, 2023
February is Black History Month and ACHP is committed to celebrating and highlighting the diversity within our membership and efforts being made to make real achievements toward health equity nationwide. With Black Americans facing disproportionately more barriers to care, there is clearly still much work to be done. Leaders like Sarah Perkins, Senior Business Development Consultant at Fallon Health, are inspired by their lived experiences, which, in turn, encourages others to take that work to heart – this month and every other month – to leave a lasting impact on their communities and the health care system at large.
Tell us about yourself and your role at your organization.
My name is Sarah Perkins, and I am a Senior Business Development Consultant with Fallon Health. I am primarily responsible for cultivating and evaluating a variety of opportunities, both internal and external to the organization, that support our Medicare, Dual Eligible and Medicaid populations. My work focuses on improving the experience of our most vulnerable members and their families, as well as how they access and utilize the services Fallon provides to support and improve their health.
Can you tell us about an early experience that impacted your career path?
My career in health care started when I was in college, when I started a job with a local College Assistance Program working with mental health professionals as a Network Manager. I initially pursued this position as I had struggled with my own mental health issues as a teenager and wanted to contribute to an organization focused on supporting other young adults in their mental health journey. This position opened my eyes to the impact that improved access and availability of services, especially for underserved populations, could provide. In my senior year, I was fortunate enough to interview for a position at Fallon Health, which I subsequently accepted. After living in the Worcester area for several years, Fallon was a mainstay in the area and highly regarded as a community-driven organization as well as a positive place to work; I can truly say that after 10 years at the organization, that remains the case. While my roles and responsibilities have shifted throughout the years, my passion for serving the underserved and truly working to understand and support my community remains a cornerstone of daily life at Fallon.
How has your career and the knowledge you’ve gained impacted or changed your worldview? And relatedly, how has your worldview impacted your career choices?
My career thus far has altered my worldview through the mentors and peers I have met and learned from along the way. I’ve gained so much knowledge and perspective from my involvement in this industry and those experiences have fostered my desire to contribute in a more meaningful and impactful way. Specifically, I have been lucky enough to work with a diverse group of colleagues and I credit them greatly for helping me develop my passion for health equity and social justice.
For me personally, as an adopted bi-racial woman who was raised Jewish, I have had numerous lived experiences that have shaped my perspective on healthcare as well as the world. As a result, I have found that I align myself with organizations and communities that either share the lived experience of a minority group or are a vocal ally of those groups. Fallon has been one such organization both externally, as a pillar of the Worcester community and all its diversity, as well as internally, through their support and compassion of their workforce that mirrors that same external community.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
As an adopted bi-racial woman raised by white parents, it took me years to feel personally connected to what this month truly meant. While I was always a vocal ally and supporter for my friends of color, I never found myself feeling like one of them. However, I now feel closest to Black History Month when reflecting on the achievements of the Black community around me as well as contributions of the most influential and impactful Black Americans. I make it a point to intentionally listen, read and learn from those around me within the Black community in hopes that I can continue to reconcile my place in this community and that the work I do, while a drop in the pond, can positively impact its future.
As a leader in your community, what advice would you offer to those getting started?
It can be daunting to want to make an impact but feel overwhelmed by the scale of all the opportunities for change and progress around you. I would tell someone just starting out to find joy and passion in learning by spending time genuinely listening and absorbing as much as they can. Secondly, I would tell someone to evaluate their preconceived notions about what a “leader” is. Authenticity, empathy and humility are often overlooked qualities but are integral to transformational leadership as those who display those qualities can more easily influence those around them to act and follow their lead.