What is your personal story?
I was born and raised in Rock Hill, SC and the youngest of 4 children. I grew up being active in church and sports and immersed in family. My parents have always been an integral piece to my story. They were raised in a time of segregation and always pushed me to work harder and learn more because all this was "something that can't be taken away from [me]." As a young girl I didn't really understand this notion - or the effects of historical trauma - until I got older and began experiencing inequity firsthand, but this didn't deter me. I was the first generation to go to college and that meant something to me and my family. I had the drive, vision and purpose to be successful so I could give back to my parents, family and community. I attended Appalachian State University on an academic and athletic scholarship. And later, a chiropractic school that was predominately comprised of white males. I was one of 50 black students to graduate from that school. But if there's one thing my dad and brothers taught me, it was that girls are just as capable of doing the same things as boys. And no physical characteristics will limit me. Today, I aim to influence and demonstrate to not only my children, but also those who I work alongside at Banner or in our communities, to embrace who they are as well who others are - despite our differences.
Who influenced your success?
My parents and those who came before me have influenced my success. I'm the great, great, great granddaughter of slaves. And I'm blessed to have a such vibrant, rich and persevering heritage. My parents have been married for almost 55 years. Throughout this time, I've witnessed the sacrifices my parents made to ensure their children had a better life.
My mother - who married young and left school early to raise her children, received her GED while I was in school and I was so proud. She has always been such a selfless and giving person that her only focus was raising us. Even when we didn't have much, she was known as the mom who'd help anyone. If someone needed a ride to a game, she was there. If you didn't have snacks, she always had enough for everyone. Mom taught me empathy and selflessness.
As the country grieves Kobe Bryant and the eight other precious lives lost, I've reflected a lot on my dad and his influence on who I am today. As the youngest of four, I was his little partner and from a young age, he instilled in me that I can do anything a boy could do. We did it all together - fishing, watching Westerns and CNN, playing sports.
Every member of my family has directly played a key role in my life. I owe my success, determination and spirit to them.
What inspired you to make the change from practicing Chiropractic care to HR?
My inspiration for wanting to be a part of something bigger than myself.
Healthcare has drastically changed from when I was a private practice chiropractor to today. And with my husband on military active-duty, I was essentially a temporary single mom to three children. It was hard. More than hard, my heart always had a deep longing to do more, be more, give more, and that's when I made the decision to be a part of something that directly affected people and instituted change. I wanted to be a part of a health system that acknowledged and effectively addressed health disparities within my community, and I knew by joining HR, I could help cultivate a people-based culture of belonging, equity and inclusivity.
In 2017 Banner health issued the media release that "Banner Desert Medical Center's executive leadership team is now comprised entirely of women." Additionally, more than half of Banner's 348 senior managers are female, and among 21 CEOs across the system's acute care facilities, 57 percent are women. How did that change the culture?
Girl power! It's not only amazing, but also inspiring to see how far Banner has come in terms of gender representation. With the rise of women leadership, I also see a rise in culture that is founded on the principles of people. From our Mission, Vision, Values and strategy to our new MyWell-Being and Employer of the Future initiatives, we are really putting people first.
Not only did this leadership change bring awareness about a woman's capability to lead and give more opportunity for leadership development and advancement, but it began acknowledging and respecting the roles each Banner team member holds personally and professionally and aims to provide every one of us life balance without compromising one or the other.
Laura Robertson, Banner Desert Medical Center's CEO, has been instrumental in bringing awareness of women empowerment and diversity and inclusion by driving Building Inclusive Teams training within her facility. As well, Banner Staffing Services vice president, Jami Allred's leadership has been an example of support and reinforces balance in my life. She has shown me respect in who I am, not only as a professional, but also more importantly as a mother, wife, daughter and sibling.
You've talked about a broader sense of diversity including gender, race, generational, and cultural diversity. What are your larger leadership goals for the Healthcare industry in closing the equity gap?
My goals are to bring awareness that there are gaps that need to be removed and that by unifying our uniqueness, we can incite fresh ideas, acquire and retain untapped talent and really represent and serve the people of our communities.
Additionally, I aim to have people see one another for who they are and embrace them by learning, understanding and respecting their stories. It's by really this that we really hone in on how to better serve our people outside and inside of our organization, which leads to better health outcomes, retention, engagement and productivity.
You have acknowledged that sponsorship, or being an advocate or agent for someone, can be especially effective in bringing up new talent. Did you have a sponsor, and are you currently sponsoring any men or women?
Naomi Cramer, Banner's chief human resources officer, was instrumental in bringing me to Banner through the Institute of Diversity with the American Hospital Association. Upon my initial discussion with her, she conveyed her genuine and deep desire to establish a D&I team to stimulate change and strengthen our culture through the principles of belonging, inclusivity, awareness and education. To this day, she continues to challenge, encourage and sponsor our team.
With my team, I strive to empower and challenge them by thinking outside the box, going above and beyond, not being limited by their titles, being involved in the community and integrating who they are into the work they do so we can truly
make life better for all.