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Alumna, Alice Shade, has held many titles across her career such as CEO, entrepreneur, strategic advisor, and mentor. It is a journey that started nearly three decades ago as she was looking for a new career path when she found public health.

“I reached out to some of my college professors and mentors and really kind of looked at career trends and industry growth and healthcare jumped out,” Shade says. “It was a top area for growth and innovation and there was big need for business minded people. I was not going to be a clinician, but the industry was looking for business minded people. So that piqued my interest.”

However, it was a conversation with her then boss that truly led her down a public health career who then connected her with Bluegrass Family Health. Shade worked there while she obtained her Master of Health Administration (’94) from the University of Kentucky’s College of Health Sciences.

In 2010, the MHA moved to the UK College of Public Health. “That’s what got me started,” she says. It is also where Shade caught the entrepreneur/start-up bug as she says.

The Henderson County native has held numerous roles in her career and worked both on the healthcare and provider sides.

While at the University of Louisville, she created intellectual property with a clinician partner, which they licensed back and started what became SentryHealth. Through that journey of building, creating, and funding a business, she now helps other CEOs and business owners make better business decisions and become better leaders to achieve better results.

Shade is also the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Louisville through the Office of Research and Innovation.

“There's such technological innovation now and the pace has accelerated discoveries,” she says. “So, my role as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence encompasses a couple of areas. One is identifying that innovation and how innovation can partner with existing industry. It could also be coaching and mentoring current faculty and researchers on innovation and how to continue its development toward commercialization.

“Or third I may look at a technology and see if it is ready now to create an entity, a new company. Then we will create that, and I can serve as part of the founding team to continue the proof of concept.”

Shade says she gets to see how the discoveries can impact communities, impact patients, impact the way healthcare is delivered and impact the way the patient experiences healthcare.

“I get to see this ripple effect of lending this expertise across a number of different areas now in the ecosystems,” she says. “I see it impacting public health, and that is important. A lot of the work we have done now is where does this intersect with social determinants of health and how do we really think about improving innovation so that we include all elements of what impacts health and communities.”

Shade is passionate about driving better outcomes and believes the overall goal should be to fundamentally change the current structure from one that is reactive to proactive. This is where entrepreneurs and innovators can make proactive changes in healthcare.

“For me, that's been an exciting place to be,” she says. “You are seeing the private equity and other people outside of traditional healthcare interested in disrupting the space and that is an exciting thing to see. However, we need healthcare experts to help and be part of that conversation, because we know the nuances. “We also must get out of our own way sometimes to allow the change to happen and disrupt. That is kind of where I kind of gravitated toward this side of the equation.”

As Shade enjoys being a mentor and advisor, she says the best advice she can give is to never stop learning. She says to seek mentors, ask questions, ask for projects that stretch skills and ideate. Also, take a startup class or take a class to gain business fundamentals.

“Personally, grow your resiliency muscle as you're going to be told no a lot,” she says. “You just must be resilient and keep coming back. Then, keep an eye on what you would like to see change or happen. Do not let the vision or inspiration you have go, despite all the barriers that come along the way.”

During her free time, Shade enjoys giving back to the community. She volunteers for Meals on Wheels in the Louisville area and devotes time to the entrepreneur ecosystem whether that is coaching, mentoring, or judging competitions.