Empathic Innovation, Building Solutions for People, Not People for Solutions
Founder & CEO
iMinds Health Solutions
Director of Psychedelic Services, Be Well
Sub-Investigator for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, UConn Health Center
Study Therapist for Psilocybin for Depression Study, Yale University
MS, Marriage & Family Therapy, Valdosta State University
BA, Philosophy, Bioethics Concentration, University of Louisville
Sara Reed is an entrepreneur, empath, leader and therapist. Her studies on human behavior are driven by her passions to understand the systemic structures and social norms that influence the presentation and severity of disease. In her practice, she works to advance health equity and address mental health disparities among many underserved groups. Her expertise combined with her professional experience have culminated in her founding iMinds Health Solutions. The startup is a digital healthcare company that develops medical technology and digital therapies to help address health disparities in a global market. She shares with our Program Manager, Sharon Mwale, the importance of listening first and self-reflection to truly build impactful and valuable solutions.
Looking back at your early career choices and academic pursuits – was becoming an entrepreneur part of your plan?
Becoming an entrepreneur has always been part of my plan; however, I never thought I would pursue it this early in my career. I started college thinking that I would eventually go to medical school and become a doctor. However, those plans changed as I took more classes in medical humanities and decided that Western medicine wasn’t the right path for me. The metrics Western Medicine uses to measure illness is more deficit based, and I was more interested in healing modalities that were more affirming and holistic. So, I completed my MS in Marriage & Family Therapy, which gave me the opportunity to understand psychopathology through an intersectional lens and discover how critical it is to understand illness within a cultural framework. For a while, my practice was fulfilling. I was comfortable with the path I had created; it made sense; and, I was happy and satisfied. However, deep down I felt that I wasn’t operating at my full potential and I even tried to run away from venturing out on my own. It wasn’t an overnight shift, but I slowly began to recognize that entrepreneurship was the only place where my gifts could be cultivated, received and scaled for the greater good. So, I carved a path for myself and haven’t looked back since.
How has your professional and/or academic experience influenced the way in which you approach entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership? Any specific instances you can share?
As a therapist, I am sensitive to, and have learned how to quickly recognize, dynamics within groups. My clinical training has given me the necessary tools to build relationships, authentically and intentionally, so that I can help bring out the highest potential of anyone I’m working with; and, it’s important to me to create spaces where people feel valued and comfortable being their most authentic selves. Whenever I find myself in a group setting, whether as a leader or participant, I am constantly level-setting to make sure the information, tasks or work that I’m sharing is accessible to everyone in the room. For example, whenever there is a misunderstanding, my first instinct is to ask questions to determine how that person arrived at a particular conclusion as opposed to correcting them. This way I can address any miscommunication on my part and avoid potentially invalidating someone’s intelligence or learning style. It’s my background and training that have helped me accept and respect a multiplicity of views and ideas on ways to arrive at a solution.
What is your advice to women and what actionable steps can they take as leaders or aspiring entrepreneurs in the health & tech industries?
Keep taking up space! No one knows your value like you do so, don’t be afraid to make it known. As women, we have to work at unlearning the conditioning that tells us to be small and to look externally to determine what’s best for us. You can’t truly get out of your own way to pursue your dreams and to answer your calling, until you learn more about yourself more deeply. Mistakes are part of the process and there is no need to feel shame about yours. An actionable step for aspiring entrepreneurs is to find your tribe. It is important to build a team of people that you can trust, and that trust you. People whom you know have your back because entrepreneurship can be tough for women, especially black women.
A light and fun question, what is one interesting fact about you we couldn’t learn by googling you?
I love to play the piano! I’ve been playing since I was 6 years old. I had formal training for about 4 years and have expanded on those teachings since. Classical music is some of my favorite music to listen to and I have even memorized a movement in Mozart’s Symphony #40 in G minor.
Lecky’s Comments:The ability to listen and self-reflect is critical to being self-aware. That self-awareness supports effective communication in that it is free of assumptions and judgements which promotes increased understanding. Today more than ever, we need tools to aid our ability to understand the experiences and feelings of others outside of our own perspective. Maya Angelou once said, “I think we all have empathy, we may not have enough courage to display it.” Let’s find that courage!
If you would like to recommend a female entrepreneur in healthcare technology to be featured, we encourage you to contact us.
Sharon Mwale Program Manager [email protected]