March marks Women’s History Month – a month dedicated to commemorating and honoring the important role women have played in history. It’s also a month to recognize and encourage the celebration of the women in your life.
The National Women’s History Alliance selects a theme each year in celebration of this month. And, 2022’s theme is, “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” They said, “[The theme] is both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during this ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.”
We talked with Des Wallace, lead human resources business partner, about her 26.5-year career at Children’s Minnesota and what Women’s History Month means to her.
Get to know Des!
Tell us about your role and how long you’ve worked at Children’s Minnesota.
I was employed by Children’s Minnesota in August 1995, after completing a summer internship as a child life specialist. I have had the pleasure to work in five different roles at Children’s Minnesota, and now work as a lead human resources (HR) business partner. My current role is two-fold: I partner with senior leaders and executives to identify and effectively implement people strategies to achieve their business objectives; as well as lead a team of six HR consultants and specialists who support managers on their daily employee-relations needs.
Do you have a favorite memory from working at Children’s Minnesota?
After 26.5 years, there are many memories. One that sticks with me is as a child life specialist when I walked into the room of a 4-year old little girl and after introducing myself. She asked me, “Why is your skin that color?” I smiled and asked her if she had seen different colors of flowers. After she said yes, I described people as being like flowers – all beautiful and of many different colors. I love this moment because it reminded me how honest children are, but also allowed me to open up her world to diversity. At that time, I was one of the few people of color who worked on the St. Paul campus. It’s so great to have stuck with an organization who now strongly supports diversity, equity and inclusion, and is growing its opportunities for diverse populations. I imagine that when children come to Children’s Minnesota now, they won’t wonder why an employee is “that color.”
What inspired you to want to work at Children’s Minnesota?
Of course, what brought me here was the need to complete my internship. What inspired me to stay and join the Children’s Minnesota team was the ability to make a difference in the lives of children at their most vulnerable and impressionable time. I believe a hospital experience can either make you want to be a doctor, nurse, etc. or hate them. The work that Children’s Minnesota does to normalize the environment and provide interdisciplinary experts to meet children where they are emotionally and psychosocially while giving the best care is life-changing and inspiring.
Do you have plans to celebrate Women’s History Month this year?
I have four friends from my college basketball team who get together annually. We have plans to meet in Florida for a long weekend. This time is always so special because not only do we laugh and party like we’re back in college, but we celebrate each other’s accomplishments and have coaching conversations on how to continue to grow. It’s a great way to honor Women’s History Month.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
From a really wonderful female friend: You will never be “ready.” So, quit limiting yourself and thinking you need more education, degrees, training. Say yes, and figure it out. From a poster: don’t believe everything you think. The one I live by is, “Work hard and be nice to people.”