A Jill of All Trades

This mother and leader is an inspiration.

WOMEN WHO INSPIRE

(In honor of Women’s History Month, we invited our contributors to write about the women who inspire them.—Ed.)

I am proud to work with Holly Manley, PhD, at Cherry Hospital, a state-operated psychiatric facility. In her roles as both a forensic evaluator and the forensic coordinator, Dr Manley has demonstrated a quality of being a Jill of all trades and master of some. She shifts seamlessly between coordinating with treatment teams, coordinating with attorneys, and testifying in court regarding her expert opinion about a defendant’s capacity to proceed. She does all this regardless of whether or not she is pregnant, has COVID-19, or receives an equal salary that acknowledges her worth.

I will not perpetuate patriarchal oppressive forces here by glorifying all the self-sacrifice Dr Manley has made. Self-sacrifice is part and parcel of a system that does not value families and makes life so difficult for working mothers trying to raise the next generation while receiving less pay and less administrative support than their male counterparts.

Therefore, the qualities that I will acknowledge are her leadership and her tenacity. Dr Manley leads by example. She has an open-door policy. This puts her in the know about her colleagues’ strengths, weaknesses, and needs. Her consistency makes her a safe space. Staff across many departments count on her. They feel safe in the knowledge that she can handle any situation. I have seen her increase morale by simply walking into the room.

And where does her consistency come from? Her tenacity. Her iron will. Her inner compass. The system will not reward her for her skills, her work ethic, or her level of impact—but she carries on anyway. She stays true to herself. In a world run by carrots and sticks, Dr Manley has tapped the perpetual motivation of becoming the best version of herself every single day. That kind of resolve inspires hope—hope that, even in a rigid patriarchal system built on a foundation of inequity, individuals can still live in the power of authenticity with the knowledge that every true word is a victory.

Dr Pagano is a forensic psychiatrist at Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina.