Shining a light on diversity in the healthcare staffing industry with SimpliFi’s COO
Laurie Bertolacci has more than 25 years of experience in workforce strategy, recruiting and staffing. She spent 18 of those years at an international staffing firm, holding nearly a dozen roles throughout the company’s legal, IT, and finance departments and developing the business strategy for its healthcare division. Her work saw tremendous success.
“There was an anticipated model to have three offices across the country,” Laurie explained. “We grew that close to 60 offices across the country in three years.”
At SimpliFi, Laurie is senior vice president and chief operating officer. Her vast experience provides expert consultation to healthcare systems to help them maximize their workforce and patient experience while minimizing their spending.
It’s easy to see Laurie’s had an impressive career, but some of her proudest moments don’t involve hours of diving into business strategy. Instead, in many ways, she’s been a voice for under-represented communities, like the LGBTQ+ community, and she happens to be a member, too.
Finding Her Pride
Throughout most of her teens and 20s, Laurie dated men until she met her first girlfriend at 28-years-old. When she shared news of their relationship with her family members, many of them were supportive, though they weren’t expecting it. When she came out to her grandmother, one of her most cherished family members, she was stopped before she could speak.
“I know what you are going to say, Laurie, and it is fine,” she told her. “It isn’t my thing, however, it is okay that it is yours, and I love you.”
Still, it took Laurie a few years before she was comfortable sharing that she was gay. She had to find confidence internally before communicating it with the world. But one day, while working for her previous employer, Laurie made a huge step. She came out in front of 100 of her coworkers at a leadership diversity conference.
“The facilitator was talking about how educating people can dispel certain prejudices about minorities,” Laurie said. “I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I stood up in front of my colleagues and shared my story. It was emotional but important for me to share and be an advocate that being gay wasn’t wrong.”
Pride in Her Work
Laurie’s courage to speak up for under-represented communities brought major strides toward progression within the company, even before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. For instance, Laurie discovered company benefits were not extended to employees’ domestic partners, a matter she was looking into for herself. Though it had been evaluated during the annual open enrollment periods for several years, it wasn’t incorporated. So, Laurie emailed the COO stating a case that incorporated business and personal reasons for the company to reconsider extending benefits to the LGBTQ+ community.
The COO gave her an almost immediate response and asked the HR committee to evaluate the cost to make it happen. The next enrollment period, benefits were extended to domestic partners, and this was thanks to Laurie’s voice.
Pride in Her Community
Outside the professional landscape, Laurie has been an active member of the LGBTQ+ community, raising money and allocating her time to various boards. She participated in the AIDS LifeCycle Ride, a seven-day, 545-mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. For this event, Laurie raised more than $12,000 to benefit the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Out of 3,000 cyclists, she was the No. 27 fundraiser and was honored with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.
“I am proud of my contribution to the community,” Laurie said. “It was a personal accomplishment requiring perseverance and mental toughness and was so incredibly rewarding.”
As a founding member and former board member of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, Laurie coordinated a charity golf tournament that raised $30,000 to help programs for homeless and transgender youth. She was also the first non-legal board member of BALIF, the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom organization.
Bringing Pride to SimpliFi
Laurie will always be a champion for diversity, and she’s excited to share that vision with SimpliFi.
SimpliFi supports, promotes, and embraces individuals from varying backgrounds and experiences. This fosters innovative perspectives, diverse creativity and is central to the company’s core values.
“As we grow, differentiate and seek to raise the bar in the industry, we know it’s not about us [at SimpliFi],” Laurie said. “It’s about our healthcare clients who work with people — people who are patients for life’s happy moments, like the birth of life, and challenging moments, like life-threatening surgeries. Part of our mission is to help in a way that assists health systems to better serve their patients and impact them in a positive way to make their lives easier. That is something that I am proud to be a part of.”
“It is extremely important to understand, appreciate, honor and learn from everyone’s unique stories and diverse backgrounds,” Laurie shared. “It is how we grow, how we create, and how we evolve internally and externally.”
SimpliFi is committed to diversity, equality and inclusion, internally and externally, to best serve healthcare communities and champion the importance of diversity for the greater good.