SHERIDAN — Zoila Perry grew up in Worland and, after graduating, wanted to live in a small town. She chose Sheridan College as her landing point.

“I had never been here before; I just picked it out of the map,” Perry said.

She knew a lot of her classmates were headed to Powell, Casper and other community college cities throughout Wyoming, and she wanted to branch out.

Branch out she did. She married and currently raises her family on a ranch, which has provided her a place to find and create a balance between her busy job as executive director of Downtown Sheridan Association in Sheridan.

When she first married, she and her husband lived in town.When they moved out of town on a ranch, at first she was upset to leave her active life, especially with the Jaycees.

“Within like a year or two years after we moved out there, I love it,” Perry said. “You have that driving time to get ready for your day, whatever happened at home to be able to just disconnect and get your mindset ready for work.

“In the evenings, it’s great to decompress. If there’s a tough issue, just not even (having to) think about it when I get home.”

Because of this clear disconnect from things at home and things at work, Perry has learned she can fully be present in both places.

“I don’t sit there and reminisce about the whole day, the great things we did, the bad things or what the future is coming up,” Perry said. “It’s just OK, we’re here, we’re with the family, we’re connected. Let’s get dinner ready, let’s get the kids ready, let’s do homework. We just have a little flow.”

It took Perry awhile to create a healthy balance of work and home life, though, when she first started transitioning into the executive director role.

She worked at Forward Sheridan before working in the events position at DSA then earning the role as the nonprofit’s leader. During the first year of her transition, Perry took work home often and naturally answered emails at all hours of the day.

“Even when I was on maternity leave with my second child, I worked from home,” Perry said. “It was simple things that I could do.”

Now that her children are older and more involved, she prioritizes time for her family. An important step in being able to create that life balance was hiring strategically. As a young leader, she recognized the benefit of hardworking colleagues she could trust to complete tasks given to them.

While Perry doesn’t fully disconnect from work life while at home, she tries to focus on the balance for which young professionals stepping into high-level leadership roles. The key? Prioritizing the essentials in life and building a team of reliable colleagues who also understand the work-life balance.