Women Leaders in the Valley Spotlight: Q&A with Kendra Aucker, President/CEO of Evangelical Community Hospital

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Q&A with Kendra Aucker, President/CEO of Evangelical Community Hospital

What’s a typical day like for you?

One of the aspects of my position that I most appreciate is that every day is different. I have an Executive Team of eight leaders, and I spend a great deal of time with them navigating regulatory, operational, and financial matters. I work closely with the Hospital Board and its committees on their governance responsibilities. The same holds for the responsibilities of the Medical Staff.   Communication is key in my role and I work daily on written employee communications as well as interactions with the community through the press. I also regularly speak with community groups about the activities of the Hospital.   I round weekly on staff and patients. I am ultimately accountable for numerous functions that take my attention such as compliance, quality & patient safety, fund development, and strategy.   During the current COVID-19 pandemic, I have spent more focused time around the operational issues impacting the Hospital and the care of our patients and community.
Who inspires you and why?
Many people and their stories inspire me.  But from a young child to present, I have always been inspired by female athletes like Chris Evert, Billy Jean King, Serena and Venus Williams, Sue Bird, Wilma Rudolph, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Tatyana McFadden, Diana Nyad, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Megan Rapinoe, and many more.  While I enjoy the competition of sports, I appreciate the stories and lessons about life - of never giving up on the quest for what you want to accomplish; the power of taking risks and refusing to be defined by failure;  and the importance of not trying to just cross the finish line but learning to enjoy the journey, even with its disappointments.  I appreciate the examples of women who live with integrity and authenticity, and who enjoy the journey. 
And I would be remiss if I did not mention that at this point in my life, I feel the inspiration of my parents who were kind people.  I never appreciated their example as much as I have over the past few years.  I was blessed to be raised by kind and caring people.
As a woman leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?
While I have had a very successful career and have felt very supportive throughout most of my professional tenure, there were numerous times I felt I was held back due to attitudes against women leaders.  It is common for beliefs about leadership to default to stereotypes about masculine behavior, leading to unconscious gender bias.  This happens even in people who consider themselves progressive. 
I wish for all women, not just women leaders, that life will ultimately be defined just as a circle of people.  Not one fractioned by definitions and labels of people and certainly not a circle divided in two.  I hope it stops being a conversation and just is. 
What advice would you give to the next generation of women leaders?
  • Your words and action must match up.  Integrity matters and is what we really are.
  • Be a good communicator.  Speak and write well.
  • Have a passion for what you do.
  • Organize your life.  It’s about self-discipline.  Set your priorities.  Welcome responsibility.  Create good habits.
  • Find someone to talk to, seek advice from, and laugh with.
  • Get outside of your comfort zone.  Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • Be curious and eager to learn new things.
  • Give back to others.
  • Put aside any negative comments you have ever heard about yourself from others.  Just don’t pick up the bag.  Women diminish their self-esteem through negative self-talk.
  • Build your team and help them succeed both “on and off the court.”
And I would tell my younger self to be more present, be in the moment.  That there is nothing to be afraid of, especially of what others think of you.  Just be yourself and do your job well.  And by being present, you gain better understanding of most everything.  And understanding brings gratitude and contentment.  I would say, remember it is a privilege to serve others.
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