Possibly she herself was most surprised.
“I was invited to come to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital for an interview,” she recalls. “I came, but I was not looking to come to the East Coast.”
Leyba, 41, is attractive, tall, willowy and has about her an aura of health and serenity — something I realized I hadn’t expected to find in someone enmeshed in all of the operations of our nearest hospital — a health care center that is a medium-sized community hospital but also a giant in the neighborhood. She explains that she accepted the position of vice president of operations at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville for many reasons.
For one thing, she explains, it’s a great job at a great hospital. Although she had not been looking to leave her previous position, Leyba was interested and attracted by the area’s diversity — which may seem commonplace to longtime residents. “In Denver we had
Spanish-speakers,” she says. “In [this] hospital, we deal with 13 languages.”
Leyba is a woman who listens intently, speaks thoughtfully and demonstrates a razor-sharp intellect. Before her first visit here, she studied Montgomery County.
“I read about the area’s diversity. I read about the unusually high number of women in leadership positions,” she says. “I am intrigued by history and was drawn by the opportunities to explore Washington, D.C.,” as well as the history-laden countryside.
Leyba interviewed for her job at the invitation of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital President Dennis Hansen, who had been a colleague at Centura Health System’s Littleton Adventist Hospital south of Denver in Littleton, Colo., her employer prior to moving east.
At the Littleton facility, she was the director of strategic planning and project management.
Leyba holds a master’s degree in health care management from Regis University in Denver, Colo., and a bachelor’s in finance from Metropolitan State College in Denver.
Often in an interview, an artist says he’s been painting since childhood. A doctor might say she knew she would be in medicine and regularly dosed dolls — and neighbor kids — as a little girl.
The same type of story — a person of talent and determination, directed by an invisible force on a journey along a preordained path — is not usually told by administrators or managers in healthcare or any other field.
Yet Leyba’s story is like that. She started as a teenaged volunteer at the Children’s Hospital of Denver. Fifteen years later, degrees in hand and with volunteer and professional expertise in all aspects of health system operations, she moved to her next hospital and up the ladder of her Denver career — all the while gathering expertise in hospital operations, strategic planning, process improvement and project management.
Shelly Leyba followed her heart and her calling and made her home in Quince Orchard Park, Gaithersburg and at Shady Grove Hospital. She is committed to providing health care to the community, she is committed to the bustling mini-city that is the community of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, and she is committed to her new hometown.
“Here, you feel like you belong to something significant,” she says, gesturing around her tasteful and warm hospital office, “both within these walls and the community it touches.”