Getting to Know Sheila Mullen

By Taryn Sims

A Women’s Impact Fund (WIF) member since March 2016, Sheila Mullen, the former Director of the Innovation Institute, is now perhaps best known for her Blue Skies: Stories That Heal podcasts, sponsored by OrthoCarolina, which share unique stories of healing from the point of view of patients and their caregivers. For Sheila, health and well-being have always been important, but a life-changing running injury made them her priorities. Chronic pain from that injury and the challenges that pain presented for mental health began a journey that led Sheila to Blue Skies.

Blue Skies is not just podcasts.  It’s intended to inspire patients in the medical system and their caregivers as they navigate uncharted waters. Sheila is in the process of writing a book to go along with the podcast teaching patients how to advocate for themselves and how to negotiate a new normal which may be very different form where they were before injury or illness. Sheila also provides coaching and speaks to larger groups, raising awareness for those who have not yet had the experiences which she, and, unfortunately, many patients have had.  Blue Skies’ and Sheila’s goal is to empower patients with a better understanding of how to tap into the resources of the healthcare system and to understand its limitations.

Sheila has been an advocate of the Charlotte community for many years and is currently part of Leadership Charlotte’s class 38.  She approached the Women’s Impact Fund as she has done with her community experience and with Blue Skies: she researched first. Sheila firmly believes that when women get together they are very powerful, and she quickly observed how WIF positively impacted the lives of those who received its grants. She joined WIF last year and is currently part of the Grants Committee’s Health Care work team.

When asked to describe WIF members as a whole, Sheila reflected, then shared how impressed she has been with the diversity, brilliance and empathy of the group. From her perspective, WIF is the premier women’s leadership opportunity in Charlotte for those who want to make a difference.

Here are some additional excerpts from our interview:

What are the top qualities that draw you to a person?  Smart, funny, and a good dancer!

What’s the best advice you ever received?  There are blue skies at the end of this journey.  When you are done grieving, you may not be exactly like you were when you started, but you’ll find acceptance of who you are now.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?  One of my friends from high school is now Kid Rock’s drummer.

What book are you reading now?  The Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

What is your favorite place to take out-of-town guests?  The Whitewater Center

Describe a perfect Saturday.  The day would start with some sort of exercise, then quality time with close friends and end with a delicious meal.

If you could have lunch with anyone (living or dead) who would you chose and why?  Oprah Winfrey, because as she matured in her career she became more authentic to herself – which ultimately led to even greater success.

To Listen to Blue Skies: Stories That Heal Podcast