Occupation: Chief Administrative Officer, OrthoVirginia-Lynchburg
Hometown: Lynchburg, Va.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Lots of communications—written (hundreds of emails plus letters, memos, etc.) and a fair number of planned and unplanned meetings both on the phone and in person. Between all that, a reasonable amount of financial analysis and accounting department interaction. No two days are the same, and the plan the night before for the next day is often revised a number of times or completely rewritten as the day moves on. Days can begin as early as 6 a.m. and end as late as 10 p.m. The schedule is variable with a lot of offsite and off-the-clock continued access and communication. Digital technology has created the 24/7 virtual office.
What led you to where you are now?
I was fortunate to take a bookkeeping class when I was 16, and I was hooked for life. Accounting is how my brain works and for that I am forever grateful. Many thanks for Mattie Bersch and Ed Fielding, my business teachers at Brookville High School.
What lessons have you learned over time?
Be curious. At the 10k foot level, a lot of things are connected. As you mature, you will see the spider web of connectivity emerge. Greek philosophy remains relevant (even for business geeks). Find and keep a large group of colleagues and friends throughout your whole life. In this group, you will find mentors, who are not necessarily older than you. You will also find opportunities to mentor and minister to others. Be present. Often the meaningful stuff is buried in the mundane so you must be aware and vigilant at all times so you don’t miss it!
What excites you about the work you do?
Everything! Since the beginning of OrthoVirginia – Lynchburg, we have had a focus on excellent patient care, a blue ribbon employee experience, community outreach and a collaborative professional environment for our employees, physicians and advanced practice practitioners (PT, OT, PA, NP). I have enjoyed complete alignment with who I am and how my employer wants to advance its mission. I have lived in this sweet spot for almost 20 years! I am richly blessed.
What are some challenges you’ve faced over the years and how did you overcome them?
College was an expensive necessity, and my family just couldn’t afford it. I started at 17 years old at CVCC and finished at 31 at Lynchburg College. I passed my CPA exam that same year. Going to school in a rigorous program (accounting) and working full time (always a lot more than 40 hours) was good discipline. I am better for it.
What are some ideals that you prioritize in business?
A sense of humor. Dedication to transparency. Love people particularly when they are hard to love. Cheerfully do more than is required to help other people be successful. Years ago, a colleague asked me to consider the word “we” in place of “I” when possible. That idea has stuck because “we” is what matters. “I” is ego and that just doesn’t help further mission through fellowship.
Are there any unique challenges that women in business leadership face?
If you can, find a good life partner. My ability to perform, produce and contribute has been enhanced by being part of a team. Robert, my husband, also believes you cheerfully do more than is required to help your partner.
We have always worked to pick up more than the slack for each other.
Anyone who is primarily responsible for child rearing alone faces significant challenges when carrying a professional career. Your gender doesn’t change that. Otherwise, being a woman has never been an impediment for me in healthcare.
What’s life like outside of work?
My husband, children and I enjoy a tightknit relationship, and we are blessed to have lifelong friends we have known since the early 70s. Loyalty and love are defining features of the clan we call extended family. My mother, who is now
80 years young, is the strongest person I know. She has had a tumultuous life, but, through all of it, she has always picked out the joys and blessings. I am adopted, so I feel richly blessed to have been selected to be her daughter. Gratitude is my groove. My passion outside of family and friends is a 10-year yoga practice.
The physical and mental discipline of yoga has kept me well. I know this.
I am grateful for the many teachers who have shared their practice with me.
What do you envision for the Greater Lynchburg region?
Socially, I envision a region that universally celebrates our diversity. We have a lot of work to do on that front. Economically, I am anxious to continue work with the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, NFIB and other pro-business entities to recruit and retain for-profit business to Region 2000. Nonprofits require for-profit business partners to thrive. It does not work in reverse.
What type of leader are you?
Energetic and a little boisterous at times.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
While not following a direct piece of advice, I did join Toastmasters after seeing one of my cousins deliver my grandmother’s eulogy. Toastmasters was one of the most valuable experiences of my life. The value of public speaking
skills cannot be underestimated.
What one piece of advice would you share with others?
Autonomy is part of building a satisfying life and career. Give people good direction, and then let them have some room to discover the best path. Lead but don’t micromanage. There will be mistakes. Many of them will be yours and that is ok. We are building good human beings. They will be flawed because we all are.
Any closing thoughts?
Be a heart-forward leader.