Earlene Avalón Director of Nursing Diversity Initiatives Children's Hospital Boston

A culinary career may be in her future, but for right now Earlene's role at Children's is helping to build a stronger healthcare system...seems like she's taken her mother's advice to heart!

Name: Earlene Charlene Avalon. I’m the youngest of 5 daughters and my name is a combination of Earl and Charles, after my two uncles.

Grew up:  Born and raised in Boston.

Now live in: Brookline

Current profession: Director of Nursing Diversity Initiatives at Children’s Hospital Boston. This is a new position where I direct the efforts of the hospital in identifying employees for nursing degrees. I work with them to strategize a plan that will help them finance their education and balance the demands of school, work and family.

When I was 13, I thought my profession would be: In my family I was known as “the chef” because I can literally go into what one perceives as an empty refrigerator or cabinet and whip up all kinds of wonderful meals.

My dream job would be: anything that I look forward to getting out of bed, or staying up late, for and doing on a daily basis. If it was not what I was doing right now at Children’s Hospital, it would probably be something in the culinary field.

My nightmare job would be: any position where my day is full of repetition. I cannot think of anything worse than that given my personality!

Role model: Without hesitation, it is my mother. Her work ethic and commitment to our family was amazing.  Still to this day, I can’t quite figure out how she did it all. She raised five girls to be strong independent women and showed us, by example, how to be honorable and caring adults.

Mentors: I have a lot of mentors in my life, and Jan Cady is definitely one of them. She has been instrumental in helping me to understand the importance of networking at this stage in my career. Another important mentor was a professor I had when I was completing my doctoral studies. I was juggling the demands of raising two small children, family, work and being a full-time student. Oftentimes, when I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, she helped me keep things in perspective. It may sound trite, but during my dissertation, she really was the wind beneath my wings.

Best piece of professional advice I was ever given: Actually the advice came from my mother, and it is the importance of “paying it forward”.  All of us understood from an early age that it was our responsibility and our duty “to pay it forward” and to help others who might have been less fortunate. 

Best books read in the last year: “Brother, I’m Dying” by Edwidge Danticat. Ms. Danticat does a wonderful job explaining what she and others have endured due to political uprising and ongoing violence in her native land and, more importantly, the toll it takes on her family.  This book gave me great insights both personally and professionally. My family immigrated to the United States; my mother is from Bermuda, my father from Haiti.  In my role at the hospital, I need to find ways to connect on a very personal level with a diverse group of employees who are often first generation immigrants who came to the United States for various reasons and were forced to leave their families behind.  Another great book I read, as part of my book club, was the “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.

Favorite Sound: My daughter’s laughter. It is a roaring, big belly laugh. It’s infectious, contagious, and when she laughs, so does everyone around her. The second I hear her laughter, it puts a huge smile on my face.

Least favorite sound: The dentist’s drill. It just pushes me over the edge!

One thing that most people don’t know about me: That I’m actually quite funny.  My family often refers to me as the “little comedian” in the house, which is ironic, given that I am 5’11”! 

My Boston Club moment: I volunteered to be a greeter at the Community Salute and I had the opportunity to meet so many fascinating women--just by standing in the stairway, directing them to the event. It was amazing! It taught me that getting the most from the Club was really up to me, and just stepping up and being involved in that small way was a really great start.