Meet the team: Hillary Greenwood

Published: 02/11/2021 - 15:42
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Hillary Greenwood has served Practice Greenhealth as director of advisory services since 2019. Prior to this role, she spent a decade in various roles in the organization. Greenwood lives in southwest Michigan with her husband and young son. Read on for her take on emerging issues and how her life and career in sustainability fuel her passion to serve Practice Greenhealth’s mission.  
 

What is your proudest moment working for Practice Greenhealth?

The moment I was offered the opportunity to directly contribute to the success and longevity of the organization as the director of advisory services. I spent the previous 10 years listening to hospital and supply chain partners talk about barriers and implementing an effective sustainability program. I get excited every day to find new opportunities to bring my coworkers’ expertise and experience to our hospital partners to help them achieve faster results.
 

What is the greatest challenge you overcame while working with Practice Greenhealth? 

Trying to do it all. When deciding to take on my new role, I spent the first several months listening, and it became clear there are so many opportunities to help our partners. We had to find the best way to build upon the more than 25 years of resource and tool development to share our experience and knowledge. In a way, it became an easy decision as our staff already feel like they are an extension of our hospital partner teams. We simply needed a system to bring it to them when and where they needed it, even if it means doing it virtually for the time being. 
 

What emerging issues do you see in sustainability in health care?

Lately, I’ve noticed more private and public companies adopting corporate social responsibility (CSR) in response to COVID-19 and the intertwined social and economic crises it has sparked. I believe this management approach offers health care a framework to guide both their sustainability and social responsibility efforts. CSR addresses a wide range of issues including diversity and equal opportunities, health and wellness of your employees, climate change, and sustainability all the while reinforcing transparency through consistent communications and reporting on progress – even if it’s good, bad, or ugly. Some leading health systems are already positioning sustainability within CSR programming. One timely benefit is listening more intentionally to stakeholders, including employees and community members, about what they value and what social and environmental issues are impacting them. The critical next step is following through to use this input when making decisions. I believe more health systems will begin to embrace this new way of doing business. 
 

What was your first job, and what was the most important lesson you learned there? 

My first job was working on our family farm with my dad. He taught me not only to respect the earth but also every person, no matter what they looked like or where they came from. Fast forward to my real first job with Metro Health, one of the first LEED-certified hospitals in the country. I spent a couple of years tending their 1-acre green roof, creating some of their first environmental education materials, and managed their weekly farmers market. And yes, my dad was one of my first vendors. I learned quickly there was a big difference between learning sustainability theory and best practices in the classroom and how important communications, patience, and perseverance would be to making change and one day having an impact from sustainability initiatives.

Being the daughter of a farmer, the wife of an outdoorsman, and a mom keeps me motivated and focused on achieving our vision of an ecologically sustainable, equitable, and healthy world.

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