What do you want to do with your life?

It can be an unfair question if you are, say, aged 17-23. But what if you are a mid-career professional?  

We often talk with professionals and candidates about career paths and goals. A majority want to advance their career. They want to set forth on the well-traveled route of Manager to Director. However, some seek to go beyond to Vice President. For them, being Vice President is the culmination of a successful career journey.

Dennis Morelli, Shelter Property & Projects Manager at Peace Ridge Sanctuary in Brooks, ME, was on the healthcare career path. With respect to George Jefferson, Dennis was movin’ on up, serving as Director of Design and Construction with Maine Health, a multi-hospital System headquartered in Portland, ME.  

But then, as frequently happens, life intruded with career. So Dennis found himself asking, What is it I want to be doing with my life? 

Dennis answered that question. He said goodbye to healthcare and left an expanding organization: Left a system role and a main hospital campus in Portland that was transforming and reimagining itself. Dennis says he traded his ties for his toolbelt, his office and desktop computer for a truck.

Leaving healthcare

Peace Ridge Sanctuary, where Dennis now works in design, construction, facility management, snow plowing, and multi-hat wearing capacities, was founded in 2001 to address animal cruelty, neglect, and exploitation. Situated on 1,725 acres in the rolling hills of Mid Coast Maine, PRS runs two state-licensed, nonprofit shelters home to over 400 rescued farmed animals, equines, and companion animals. PRS, and Dennis, are in the process of building two new locations. 

Dennis is pleased with his career transition, a journey he recounted in the latest episode of High Reliability:

I get involved in a lot of different things at the farm. If there is a blizzard, I am here as long as I need to keep the driveway cleaned and sanded so staff can attend to the animals. I fix fences and work outside when it is 2 degrees with the wind blowing from the Northeast. 

The biggest change was from working behind a desk and overseeing construction to being the person actually doing the construction. I told others that I traded my ties for a toolbelt. It took a bit to get used to physically and mentally, but I feel a lot better not sitting for 10 hours a day. 

I am a results-driven person, and working in a (healthcare) facility, the things that are broken can take a while to fix. So having more of a direct impact (at Peace Ridge) is more fitting for the type of person I am. 

In High Reliability, Dennis offers perspective to help those who may be thinking through the career transition process, including the what if’s and I should have done’s that are known to plague a career. 

Listen to the High Reliability podcast From the hospital to the farm: A unique career transition.

To learn more about Peace Ridge Sanctuary, please see here. 

G/MA Nuggets
  1. Gosselin/Martin Associates will have a booth at the ASHE Annual Conference in Boston on July 17-20. Stop by and see us at Booth 1423.
  2. For a complete listing of jobs we are recruiting for, please see here.
  3. Catch up on the Abraham Lincoln Employment series here.