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Meet the Uniting Voices alum expanding sleep medicine access

Before she was a thought leader in the field of health economics and outcome research, Kimberly Sterling sang at First Unitarian Church in Hyde Park. She’s carried the values she learned singing around Chicago and on tour in Japan—collaboration, hard work, leadership, and diversity—on every step of her journey in the medical field. She’s conducted research in bipolar disorder, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and received a Pharm D. degree from Butler University and a Masters of Science from the University of Southern California.

Currently based in Indianapolis, Kimberly is the Vice President of Global Value & Access at ResMed. In this leadership role, she champions diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in her work to eliminate health inequities. Despite a busy schedule that also includes research on sleep and respiratory medicine, she hasn't lost her passion for music, and she sings on her church's Praise Team.

We caught up with Kimberly to learn why she entered the medical field, how she approaches being a leader and some of the life lessons she learned from her time in Uniting Voices.

Uniting Voices: When and where did you participate in Uniting Voices Programs?

Kimberly Sterling: I started out in the school choir in elementary school while attending Murray Language Academy in the 1980s. I enjoyed my experience so much, I auditioned to join the Chicago Children’s Choir at the First Unitarian Church of Hyde Park. I stayed through my junior year of high school (1992) where we practiced at Sinai Temple in Hyde Park and left my senior year to participate in a musical, Les Misérables at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School.

UV: What was your proudest moment as a member of Uniting Voices?

KS: I loved having a chance to tour Japan with the choir in the summer of 1992. It was at a time when the relationship between the US and Japan was strained politically. I was a little nervous going, unsure of how the people of Japan would react to American visitors. Ultimately, it was an amazing experience—we were warmly welcomed by the people of Japan. That tour taught me valuable life lessons: (1) always travel with an open mind, (2) pack only as much as you can carry—remember you may want to purchase souvenirs, and (3) knowing a little bit of the language of the land that you are visiting goes a long way.

UV: Why did you choose medicine as your professional field of choice?

KS: I chose to study pharmacy because in high school I was good at science and math. While I did graduate with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Butler University in Indianapolis, I decided to further my studies and pursue a research fellowship in Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy through the University of Southern California. My intention was to be in a position to provide scientific evidence so that patients who needed access to a certain medication (and now a medical device) could receive it.

UV: How did your experience in Uniting Voices prepare you to take on a leadership role at ResMed?

KS: My experience taught me to value collaboration, appreciate diversity (voices and people), develop learning agility, be flexible, and to have fun. In my leadership role at ResMed, I have built a collaborative, inclusive, high-performing and fun culture in my 20 plus person organization. When each person plays to their strengths (while helping those who may be having challenges), we are like a beautiful chord in harmony at the end of a magnificent concerto. I owe a lot of my success to Uniting Voices.

UV: Anything else you'd like to share?

KS: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the life-long friendships I developed because of [the organization], and I’m so appreciative of the amazing staff that helped to reinforce the importance of discipline, practice and excellence. While I don’t live in Chicago, I know the importance of supporting the work of Uniting Voices. My life was transformed because of this organization, and I want to ensure others have that same experience.

Photos courtesy of the Uniting Voices alumni Facebook group.