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We are excited to introduce our Director of Programs, Shay Bluemer-Miroite! We recently met with Shay to learn more about her role at Shift, why she cannot help but keep it real, and her newfound love of dahlias!

What is your title and what departments do you work in?

I am the Director of Programs, so I oversee the team of folks doing client-facing work, including the program managers and improvement advisors. I provide technical leadership and oversight with Karen Zeribi, our Founder and Chief Visionary. I spend a lot of my time thinking about our team culture and keeping our portfolios balanced and interesting to support the growth of folks on the team.

What’s different about the way Shift works?

We offer customized and collaborative support to our clients. Our approach to improvement has a strong commitment to both coproduction and equity. This feels important to me because you can do coproduction without equity, but you can't do equity without coproduction. We are an improvement organization committed to doing better. Over the years that has looked like more than just tweaking our methods—we have worked as a team and with partners to think critically about creating the processes and structures necessary to embed equity into our work.

Also, we believe there's a need for systems improvement with an equity commitment across many different spaces. Oppressive systems are everywhere. That is why we work across different sectors. I've had amazing opportunities to apply what I learn in one project to other sectors. Like, redesigning systems to serve patients’ needs in the Caribbean or addressing inequity in the U.S. education system, and taking those lessons to a home-based childcare initiative. Working this way facilitates connections among experiences, expertise, and examples from many different contexts to enrich the work we do with our partners.

Do you apply improvement methods in your life? If yes, how so?

I’m a bit of a natural improver. I tend to try out lots of new approaches. I like to take things apart and understand how they work and then make them better. If you have seen our videos, you have probably seen an example of how I apply improvement in my everyday life. My favorite example is gardening. The inspiration for the root cause analysis video came directly from my garden! 

What Shift principle resonates the most with you?

The Shift principle I am most likely to embody is Keeping It Real. I can't be inauthentic; I can't mute my passion. When I get excited about understanding the experience of others in the world, my passion animates me!

The one that most resonates with me during these difficult times is Seeing the Whole Person because it's just been so difficult in the past few years to keep a steady balance. We've collectively gone through and continue to go through so much and that it feels important for me to hold on to that one every day. It reminds us all to be gentle with one another.

How do your past experiences positively impact your work at Shift?

I come from a background in global health, and I had the privilege of first learning improvement approaches with some amazing clinicians while working on a project in Haiti. At the time, I was a program evaluator and was really interested in the way that quality improvement proposed we rethink how we use data; instead of waiting for an evaluation to tell us what isn’t working, we could engage those who work with and are impacted by the system because they know it best and likely how to fix it. I also met an amazing clinician in Jamaica named Clive Anderson, who was passionate about quality improvement. Working with him had an immense influence on my professional trajectory.

Working in the Caribbean with patients, clinicians, counselors, and nurses in quality improvement taught me so many skills I now apply across sectors, like how to actively listen to our partners and question the status quo.

What's your hidden talent?

I’m not sure it’s a hidden talent, but something that doesn’t come up in my work life much is that fact that I garden. I have a good friend who’s a dahlia grower and she introduced me to working with dahlias. I’ve turned my whole front yard into boxes of dahlias. For the first time last year, I’ve started to identify them by name and divide them accordingly. We might start selling tubers someday.

What type of music is on your current playlist?

I'm listening to a lot of Burna Boy. He's a Nigerian Afro-pop artist. But as the mom of two “almost” tweens, I'm regularly exposed to new music. My son is into indie and jazz and my daughter loves songs that she can belt out, so I'm listening to whatever is on their playlists, too.

What's your favorite sport or sports team?

I'm not a sports fan. But if I had to answer this, I'd say the Detroit Tigers. I'm from Michigan, and I can remember going to a game at the old Tiger’s Stadium when I was a kid. The game went for like 13 innings, and I was desperate for the game to end. But I still remember when the Tigers won the World Series. They're nostalgic for me, so I'm always excited when the Tigers have a good year.

What was the last book you read?

I’m so terrible. I start many, many books—mostly non-fiction—and I read parts of them but don’t complete them. The last novel I read that had a profound impact on me was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. The story follows 300 years of a family's history from Ghana to the United States.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I'd like to speak more languages. I speak French and speaking another language has opened a whole world to me, including meeting my husband. I know that if I spoke other languages, it would further deepen my ability to connect with other people and broaden my understanding of the world. I would love to be a polyglot.

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