Member Spotlight Maria Huntley

Featured TRUST Member

Maria Huntley


Maria Huntley

As CEO/Executive Director of the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP), Maria Huntley works with the MAFP Board of Directors to fulfill the organization’s mission to support family physician health care delivery through innovation, research and education and to promote the specialty of family medicine in the state of Minnesota. Representing more than 3,100 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students, the MAFP is the largest medical specialty organization in Minnesota. It is the state chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), one of the largest national medical organizations in the United States, with more than 129,000 members.

Why did you join the TRUST?

While visiting with an established TRUST member and mentor of mine, Shireen Gandhi suggested I consider joining. As a strong advocate for initiatives that promote leadership opportunities for women, I knew the TRUST was an organization I wanted to be a part of.

Have you been mentored?

I have had incredible mentors who have taught me the value of listening, slowing down and leveraging my strengths in my career. I have a certain mentor who I always call when I need to hear something that I don’t want to. I appreciate that this mentor can be open and provide honest constructive feedback even when they know it may be difficult for me to hear. That’s not easy to do; however, it’s so important to have at least one mentoring relationship where you both can be deeply honest with the other.

Best career advice you've received?

You can only control yourself and how you react to situations.

What support do you need as you evolve as a leader?

I am learning to navigate the complexities and differences between politics and policy. With the current polarized climate in our country, work that we are doing in the health care space can also be framed as polarizing. My organization works on issues around immunization education, access to women’s reproductive health and gun violence prevention, to name a few — which have all unfortunately become very divisive issues in our country. This has taught me to develop strong data points to back up the work that is being done when challenged.

How do you support other women on their leadership journeys?

I want to share my most challenging learning experiences so others can benefit from them. I also want to help those who are looking for their voice to achieve deserved salaries based on success, not gender. My advice often feels so simple, yet I have seen it be so impactful around compensation. Do your homework and have data around compensation studies in your space, determine what you believe you are worth and ask for it.

The TRUST is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019. How do you envision health care will change over the next 40 years?

Minnesota has one of the best health care outcomes in the country, but we have the worst disparities in health inequity by race in the country. I believe that health care is a human right and we have responsibility to offer health care to all. We have to leverage the innovative ways that patients can be cared for. We need to remove the administrative burdens of health care providers at all levels. We need to prioritize these changes and not let ourselves get hung up on everything that is wrong with our systems in this country. We are all responsible for working toward a less polarized culture that will help move us toward a stronger and more effective health care system.

Who or what inspires you?

In my current position, I am inspired by the meaningful work that our organization does around health equity and addressing health care disparities. Some of the work we are focusing on in 2019 includes hosting events addressing health disparities within the Native American community, structural racism, housing and food insecurity as examples. We recently co-hosted a workshop with the Minnesota Medical Association about gun violence safety; this was particularly inspiring to me, as this work has become a personal passion of mine. My kids are in kindergarten and third grade and are both trained to hide from an active shooter in their elementary schools, we don’t have to live like this.

Do you follow women leaders on social media?

My preference is to follow my favorite leaders on Twitter: Dr. Renee Crichlow, @reneecrichlowMD; Allison O’Toole, @allison_otoole; Nausheena Hussain, @nausheena; Sahra Noor, @Sahra_Noor; Janet Silversmith, @JanstersMN; and Erin Murphy, @epmurphymn.

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