Ellie Reece, '04

December 11, 2017
Alum finds her passion in public health administration

When Ellie Reece, ’04, arrived at the University of Richmond, she was sure of her path. “I wanted to study sciences and then go on to medical school,” she said. But after taking a number of science classes in her first year, “I came to the decision that science wasn’t where my strength was,” she said.

What did hold her interest were her courses in sociology and business. “With my sociology major, I got to take a wide range of classes that counted toward graduation, and explore a number of different areas,” Reece said. “Richmond also pushed me; it improved my writing skills, my study skills, my confidence in giving presentations, while supporting me as I figured out what I liked and was passionate about. 

She may have changed her major from the sciences, but Reece did not change her goal of working in healthcare. After graduation, she started applying for positions in Boston, near her family, and ended up with an entry level administrative position in the neurology department of Boston Children’s Hospital. “I was working with patients and scheduling appointments,” she said. “A lot of the children we served had muscular dystrophy, so I spent a lot of time coordinating referrals to other services and providers that could help them.”

Reece loved the work, and loved her collaborative colleagues, and 13 years later, she is working in the same hospital unit, only now as the executive director of the Neurology Foundation at Boston Children’s Hospital. “I’m responsible for the operations of all neurology across Boston Children’s Hospital, with almost 200 direct reports including administrative staff, managers, and technologists, and I work with colleagues on the physician and nursing sides to manage the operations of all our clinics,” she said. “We’re the largest pediatric neurology practice in the world and we have 46,000 patient visits a year.”

Reece enjoys her role because of the variety it offers; “there’s no such thing as a typical day,” she said. “I’m involved in a lot of hospital-wide initiatives and partnerships, but I also meet with members of my own staff to figure out things like where a new doctor will see patients and how often, or how we’re going to implement an upgrade to our electronic health records system.”

While her current role doesn’t allow her much opportunity for direct patient interaction, Reece knows that what she does every day does make a difference. “We worked together to be part of a clinical trial for a new drug that has just been approved; kids are now living that used to die within two years, and kids are walking who have never walked before,” she said. “Seeing that, that’s what makes me come to work every day.”