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Celebrate Women in Leadership With Us in 2020 (Part II)

March 24, 2020

Celebrate Women in Leadership

All throughout March, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month and women’s contributions to our Mission. But now isn’t any ordinary time. As we continue to watch the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) this spring, we see how important effective leadership can be. We want to continue celebrating these leaders as they serve the Mission of our organization.

Westminster Communities of Florida is fortunate to have women and men who work together to serve older adults. In total, nearly 1,500 women on our teams serve as nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants, chefs, servers, maintenance technicians and housekeepers. They are an integral part of the team of more than 2,700 employees who serve 7,000 residents at 22 communities throughout Florida.

At this time more than ever, we are especially fortunate that we have a diverse team contributing to leadership roles. Their experiences show a dedication to our Mission of serving the residents and ensuring the health and wellbeing of all residents and employees. Today, we learn from leaders who serve our residents every day: Our executive directors and health services administrators.

“Men and women look at problems differently,” said Lin Ferrol, Executive Director at Westminster Shores in St. Petersburg. “Having a balance of men and women in leadership means that, when we try to solve something, we find a more balanced resolution. That’s something I like to see in my own leadership teams.”

“I often look at my leadership team and see how they react and lead among us,” Ferrol said. “Servant leadership creates a caring environment, an environment where people are able to recognize trust in leadership and develop a positive culture.”

Ferrol, who has served our organization since 2014, said that strong leadership is especially key at a challenging time like this. With a career that has spanned several different fields and organizations, her experience has taught her how to pull through as a team, and the value of leadership. “I’ve been through tornadoes in the Midwest, blizzards in the Northeast, hurricanes in Florida, and now this. The greatest challenge is helping residents, staff and families not panic,” she said. “Be present. I try talking with them and try to help by listening.”

To another leader, Marilyn Cameron, Health Services Administrator at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek in Jacksonville, listening is the core of leadership. “Everybody learns differently. How you reach everyone and guide them towards a common goal has to be designed to the needs of your staff,” she said.

Cameron has served at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek since 2011. With a background in social services and nursing home administration, her passion is for ensuring great quality care for our residents.

Amid a global pandemic, staff at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek — and throughout the  state — are rising to the challenge to support each other and the residents, according to Cameron. “We cope by offering continuous thanks, finding out what barriers might be to showing up to work for them, whether it be child care, elderly parents, etc., and helping with our Employee Assistance Program,” Cameron said.

What’s the value in having women in leadership? Throughout history, according to Cameron, women have been leaders and proven their worth, even though it may not always have been publicized. What mattered was that they were great leaders, she said. “I don’t care if it’s a woman or a man — you just have to have the right person. You have to love what you do, and get people to go along with you as a team. That’s what leadership is.”

In Cameron’s experience, having a great mentor who saw in her the potential for leadership made all the difference. “It took that one person to say, ‘You have what it takes.’ I try to do that for all of our employees, and I hope that they can do the same. It’s how we can make more leaders.”

Ferrol and Cameron both said that the most important thing is to do the right thing. “Follow the Golden Rule!” said Ferrol. “I even use that in my own home, with my kids.”

What can both men and women who want to be leaders do?

To Cameron, the key is to learn to lead through responding to others’ needs. She said, “First, listen. Then lead, guide and educate yourself. It doesn’t matter what kind of business. You have to have integrity, and you have to have trust.”

Ferrol agreed, adding, “You have to know where your passion is and work toward that direction. Be flexible, and say to yourself, ‘I can learn this piece from this opportunity, and another from that one,’ throughout your career.”

Westminster Communities of Florida is fortunate that we can be inspired by leaders like Ferrol and Cameron. What are the other contributions that women make to touching lives through service? Stay tuned to be inspired with our Women in Leadership series, and visit our Careers page to learn how you can be part of the team!

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