Ellie Reece at home in a healing profession
Photo courtesy of Ellie Reece
On Their Way is an occasional series in which The Times introduces people who grew up on Martha's Vineyard and have moved on to establish themselves in careers on or off Island. We are looking for young people who have distinguished themselves by their accomplishments in the arts, business, in social services, in the military, in academics, in fact in any meaningful way. We welcome your suggestions.
Charlotte Elizabeth "Ellie" Reece is an easygoing, quick-to-laugh 31-year-old. She is as comfortable on a horse as she is with her feet on the ground, running outpatient neurology clinics for children, her daytime job. She is the practice administrator for the Neurology Foundation of Boston Children's Hospital.
"That means I run and manage all six of our neurology outpatient clinics, a staff of about 30 people," she told The Times recently. Yet she still manages to fit several horseback rides into her busy weekly schedule.
She learned to ride horses as a young child on her parents' farm in Missouri, "living my mother's dream," she says. Her mother, Amy, now the fifth-sixth grade English language arts and history teacher at the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School, was not allowed to ride as a child. Ellie's mother made up for her late start by running a therapeutic horseback riding center for handicapped children and adults on the farm.
Ellie said growing up in her family's farm environment helped her decide to do what she does today.
"I got to see my mother helping people do things they never thought they could do," she said. Her father, Doug, is the principal Realtor at Re/Max on the Island.
As a child Ellie summered on the Island with her family until they moved to the Vineyard full-time in 1998, when she was a sophomore in high school. She continued to ride horses competitively, and she played on the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School tennis team. She graduated from the high school in 2000, the class salutatorian, and was described as "Most Academic" by her classmates.
She graduated from the University of Richmond, majoring in sociology and business administration, and then earned a master's degree in public health from Tufts Medical School, while working fulltime in 2007. She has been working for Boston Children's Hospital since 2005.
"I started college thinking I would go the pre-med route, but figured when I got into the big science classes that maybe it wasn't for me," she said.
Ellie was impressed with the business school at Richmond and discovered that business studies made a good match for her. She knew she wanted to be involved with health care, after seeing her mom's work in her riding center, so she was not a novice in the caregiving profession when she applied for work after college.
"I had worked summer jobs at the Vineyard hospital, in the emergency room, and at a private practice clinic on-Island," she said.
When she first considered graduate school in medical administration, her dad suggested that she try getting a job in the field to see how she liked it before spending any more money on school. She started at the entry level at Boston Children's Hospital, a 395-bed comprehensive center for pediatric health care, one of the largest such facilities in the United States.
"I am pretty lucky to have gotten into such a great place so early in my career. It's made it easy," she said. "I love it when the kids come running into my office. It's what I really love about my job. It keeps me coming back every day."
Ellie lives in Brookline and walks to work. "It helps to have a dad in real estate," she said.
Off the job she goes to the gym, rides horses, likes the beach, and visits the Vineyard when she can, more often in the summer than this time of year. She is on the board of a nonprofit called Aceing Autism, which teaches tennis to children with autism, and Ellie spends time almost every week teaching tennis and hitting balls with the kids.
Her ambitions are ripening and changing.
"I have an increasing interest in the field of consulting and may pursue that in a few years, after I have more experience," she said.