UVM Medical Center’s Ryan Polly honored as a “Rising Star”
(Burlington, VT) Ryan Polly, University of Vermont Medical Center manager of Talent Development and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion received a Rising Star award last night from Vermont Business Magazine, recognizing 40 winners younger than 40 for their commitment to business growth, professional excellence and involvement in their communities. He was chosen by the magazine’s judges from among 220 nominations.
“There’s a benefit to younger leaders having opportunities to share perspectives,” Polly says. “When we’re able to understand our own perspectives, our own biases and how we navigate the world, and find room for others’ perspectives, we create a connection. That connection makes the experience for ourselves and our patients a better one.”
In 2016, Polly embarked on leading the creation of a five-year strategic plan for equity, diversity and inclusion at UVM Medical Center, which started rolling out that plan this year. Polly also chairs the medical center’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council.
“Over the years Ryan has grown into a trusted colleague, influencer and strategic partner,” says Laurie Gunn, UVM Medical Center’s vice president of Employee, Patient and Family Experience. “His authenticity and willingness to be vulnerable has served to inspire other leaders in the organization to reach for their highest potential.”
Polly developed the Compass Leadership program, which won an award for Innovation in Deployment of Leadership Programs from HR.com in 2017. In that year-long development program for leaders across the University of Vermont Health Network, Polly encourages participants to look inside themselves and ask, “How do they bring their most courageous, authentic selves to their work?”
Polly grew up in the Pacific Northwest. An early overachiever, he graduated from high school at age 16. He then went into the Allied Health program at Clark College in Washington State and got a series of jobs in the medical field.
After Polly had his first of five children, he began teaching in the community college health program and discovered he had a knack for education and administration. He embraced the challenge of solving complex problems within an organization. While working, Polly pursued higher education himself and eventually completed a master’s degree in Education and a PhD in Transformative Studies.
In 2008, Polly met his spouse, a Vermont resident, online and moved across the country to begin a new life with them. Within months of his arrival, he joined the medical center, then called Fletcher Allen, as a radiology assistant. Within three months, he had a job in human resources as a workforce educator. He put his own stamp on the job, emphasizing open-mindedness and acceptance before that was an official part of his title.
As a transgender man, Polly is passionate and committed to serving the LGBTQ community. He developed classes in diversity and inclusion and a training program in transgender health in partnership with the Pride Center of Vermont, a Burlington-based organization that celebrates and advocates for the LGBTQ community. He now serves on its board. In 2010, he helped lead a Human Rights Campaign survey to assess the medical center in the area of LGBTQ health care.
Earlier this year Polly was ordained through One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in NYC as an interfaith/interspiritual minister. Polly now offers coaching and spiritual counseling pro bono for leaders in smaller non-profit organizations and recently founded Community Inspired, a spiritually informed community group developed to create a loving community inspired to learn together and take action toward social action and service. He also loves music and writes songs.
A crucial aspect of his role, Polly says, is creating a workplace where his colleagues feel comfortable and free to express themselves, so they can provide the best care for their patients.
“My work is all about relationships,” Polly says. “Let’s have a conversation and learn from each other.”
About the University of Vermont Medical Center
The University of Vermont Medical Center is a 447-bed tertiary care regional referral center providing advanced care to approximately 1 million residents in Vermont and northern New York. Together with our partners at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, we are Vermont’s academic medical center. The University of Vermont Medical Center also serves as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties.
The University of Vermont Medical Center is a member of The University of Vermont Health Network, an integrated system established to deliver high quality academic medicine to every community we serve.