March is Women’s History Month, and in celebration, Westminster Communities of Florida has been highlighting the contributions women make to the leadership of our organization. These leaders represent every area of our organization, and make an impact in all of them. We’re thankful to have such excellent leaders to help guide us in living out our Mission.
“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another,” said Serena Williams, the tennis star. “We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be kind, and above all, be humble.”
Today, we interview leaders who have made an impact on our Mission and helped us improve our ability to fulfill it.
“When we come together as an organization and collaborate as leaders from different genders and ethnicities, we all do better work. There are more and more women leaders in our organization, which creates more opportunities for other women to look up to them as mentors,” said Sophia Morgan, Assistant Controller.
Our Finance Department and people like Morgan play an unsung role in ensuring that we can continue to serve our residents, because, as CEO Roger Stevens often says, “With no margin, there is no Mission.” Earlier in her career, she sought to work for a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, and landed at Westminster Communities of Florida, where she began as a general ledger accountant.
Morgan adds that mentorship is a critically important role that women, and especially women of color, can provide to offer more opportunity. “We want to give other women hope that they can grow within our organization as well,” she said. “Mentors help you aspire and achieve your opportunities. Getting more women into leadership roles will encourage others to step up.”
Lisa Bloder, Regional Health Services Director, offered a similar assessment of the benefits of mentorship — to help us live out our Mission. “I believe it is important to be a mentor to our staff, to help them be the best they can be in providing quality care to our residents,” Bloder said. “A majority of our residents are women, so I believe having women in leadership roles allows us to have a better understanding of the female perspective, and how business and clinical decisions for living in our communities will affect them.”
Bloder has worked for Westminster Communities of Florida since 1999, and she has discovered that, “Our strength comes from the belief that together, we are stronger.” She completed her master’s degree in 2016, with the support of our educational benefits, and has found encouragement over the last 20 years to grow in different positions and increase her knowledge.
To Bloder, the Mission is central to everything. She recalls then-CEO James Emerson saying to her, “Lisa, we will always put the care of our residents first. Make sure we are providing what the resident needs.” At that moment, Bloder recounts, “I knew that the Mission of this organization was truly at the heart of all we do.”
That empathy is a strength of our organization, as recounted by Teri West, Director of Clinical Services at Westminster Pharmacy Services. “The people who work in the organization really care,” West says. “The people who stay within the Westminster family, stay because their faith in the Mission is strong and their love for the residents brings them back every day. You can’t teach caring.”
Having women in leadership, she adds, helps provide a diversity of experience and perspective that makes the whole organization stronger. “Because of their dedication to resilience and balance, women can truly embrace the Mission and the responsibility of the stretches that are needed in their roles to care for our residents,” she says.
West, who was raised by a very independent mother in a single-parent household, said that she always believed she could accomplish anything. “My mother always told me, I can become whatever I want to be, no boundaries. I don’t think of myself differently based on my gender when it comes to my work,” she said.
“The residents are the reason for us being where we are, the core of the Mission,” West said.
We asked these leaders what advice they would give to women who are seeking to grow as leaders themselves.
Morgan’s advice was simple: Keep an eye out for how you can continue to grow. “My advice is to never lose out on opportunities that can possibly exist,” she said. “See the world through a lens of opportunity, especially those unseen.”
Meanwhile, Bloder recommends focusing on completing the task at hand: “Take baby steps. Take one thing at a time, do it well, and proceed to the next item. Never let fear stop you from trying something new. And make mistakes, as [CEO] Roger Stevens says — but only new mistakes.”
Lastly, West said, “Be part of the solution to challenges. It’s easy to point at all the things that others could be, and should be, doing that they are not. You have to start with asking one simple question: ‘What can I do?’ ”
How is Westminster Communities of Florida honoring women throughout March? We look forward to sharing the final installment in this series with you soon!