On Sept. 28 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, the University of Redlands’ very own alumna and professor, Tracy Garmer, was recognized for her impactful work in education and healthcare in the Southern California region as a finalist for San Diego Magazine’s 2016 “Woman of the Year” award.
Garmer graduated from the University of Redlands in 1996 with an MBA. She began working in the university’s business department at the satellite campus in San Diego in 2009 to teach Human Resources, Ethics, and Environmental Sciences at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Through studying at the university, she believes she attained a “more rounded business view” that has allowed her to recognize how “people-centered” business is.
“Organizations [should] value the employees and [try] to put the employees’ best interest first whenever they can,” Garmer said.
She has experience working with human resources in a multitude of industries, which led her to find a passion for teaching these values of fair treatment within the classroom. Her advocating doesn’t stop in the classroom, either. Garmer is the Executive Vice President and the Chief Operations Officer within the non-profit organization, Health Center Partners, that helps members share best practices to serve diverse and largely underserved groups. She serves as a healthcare advocate for community care and oversees operations such as human resources, member services and corporate compliance within the Southern California region. In her time as an advocate for the non-profit, which has spanned 14 years, Garmer has improved the quality of life for almost 800,000 patients. She also volunteers her time at other nonprofits, one of which focuses on preventing domestic violence.
The “Woman of the Year” award was created by San Diego Magazine to honor influential women who have created positive change within San Diego. Nominees for the 2016 “Woman of the Year” award were evaluated based on leadership, personal integrity, achievement, passion and impact. Many inspiring women, such as Dr. Karen Haynes in 2015, the president of Cal State University of San Marcos, and Diana Kelly in 2016, the Regional Vice President of Home Depot, have been recognized for this award. Garmer’s colleagues at Health Center Partners nominated her for this award this year.
“[Because of her] tireless support of the numerous member health centers in [Health Center Partner’s] network, Tracy well deserves this recognition,” said Henry Tuttle, CEO of Health Center Partners. “She has made lasting impacts to improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands across Southern California.”
When asked about this nomination during an interview, Garmer commented that she was tremendously honored, though she was not named “Woman of the Year”.
“I was humbled by the fact that my peers thought enough of me to recognize me,” Garmer said. She went on to express her appreciation for “working with such a talented group” whose philosophies align with her own.
Though Garmer has excelled in her career, she has struggled to get to where she is now and acknowledges the difficulties that still persist for women in the workplace.
“There is still a lot of inequity,” Garmer stated.
She mentioned an experience in which she worked at an organization that had a “good ol’ boys network,” where women were not encouraged to participate. She realized that her true potential was limited by sexism and looked for opportunity elsewhere.
Although she has experienced external challenges for women in the workplace, many of her challenges were internal. Garmer has struggled with self-doubt, but has ultimately overcome her internalized struggles through mentorship and experience. Over time, Garmer learned from other talented and successful women how to be assertive and advocate for herself and for others.
Garmer believes that “as women, we should be promoting women.” As a society, we should strive to support and encourage women to step into positions of leadership and to recognize them and their accomplishments.
“I do think it’s changing,” Garmer said. “But it’s changing slowly.”
Garmer is proud to invest her time and efforts in the healthcare field. She explained that her passion “has always been to help others,” and she plans to do so for many many years to come.
“I love what I’m currently doing,” Garmer said. “[The work I do] motivates me to come in everyday.”