Joyce A. Murphy’s life mission to help the disadvantaged and advocate for compassionate care began at the tender age of 3, when her brother Brian was born with Hunter’s Syndrome. Despite a devastating diagnosis, the UMass Medical School executive vice chancellor rallied with her parents and five siblings to care for Brian for the duration of his short life.
That experience fueled Murphy’s passion to help vulnerable populations, leading her on a journey into health care and as chief executive at UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division. Murphy, MPA, was honored for her success in advancing health care policy, research, and care delivery with the Excellence in Health Care, Arts & Education Pinnacle Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce during its annual luncheon Jan. 29.
“I am humbled to be in such company and following in the footsteps of so many outstanding women leaders,” Murphy told a crowded ballroom at the Boston Marriott Copley Place Hotel after receiving her award from Paul Guzzi, president & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber, and Master of Ceremonies J.C. Monahan, WCVB-TV news anchor and Chronicle co-anchor.
Murphy was one of eight women presented with a Pinnacle Award, which honors female leaders who have achieved excellence in business and management. The Greater Boston Chamber has been bestowing the awards since 1995. “We honor eight outstanding women,” Guzzi said. “They are representative of an extraordinary talent pool.”
In accepting her award, Murphy shared her family’s struggle to accept Brian’s diagnosis, determination to keep him at home and out of an institution and decision to make him the “family’s center.” Doctors told the Murphys Brian would never be out of diapers, never speak more than a few words and require constant care. Brian died at home, surrounded by his family, bedridden and tube-fed at the age of 11.
“I learned that caring, compassion and service to others was most important,” Murphy said. “Throughout my career, I have had tremendous opportunities to provide services to those in need — many who have no voice. Working in health care has been a huge responsibility as well as a tremendous privilege.”
The Pinnacle Award is the third accolade that Murphy has received since last fall. On Oct. 24, Commonwealth Medicine was named number two on the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts by The Boston Globe Magazine and The Commonwealth Institute. On Oct. 21, Murphy was presented with The Massachusetts Health Council’s Outstanding Leadership Award for her devotion to supporting healthy communities, families and individuals.
Before joining Commonwealth Medicine in 2006, Murphy served as president and chief executive officer of Carney Hospital in Dorchester, founding president of St. Mary's Center for Women and Children, and vice president of St. Margaret’s Hospital for Women.
Murphy serves on numerous boards and commissions, including the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission Advisory Council, the boards of Curry College and UHealthSolutions, the Leadership Council of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care board of directors as vice chair.
Watch a video of the Pinnacle Awards.
View a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce gallery of photographs from the Pinnacle Awards.
Read a compilation of Tweets about the Pinnacle Awards.