Children’s of Alabama Celebrates Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. At Children’s of Alabama, 86 percent of our workforce is female.

Children’s of Alabama is here today because, more than a century ago, a group of dedicated women saw the growing need for quality health care for children. In those early days at Children’s, an all-female group of volunteers did whatever was needed to operate the charity hospital, from scrubbing floors to sitting with sick children. The hospital’s first trustees were all women.

Today, women are involved throughout our hospital – from the board room to bedside. The women featured here all have very different roles at Children’s, but all are key to fulfilling the promise of the hospital’s original founders.

LaDonna Gaines
Manager, Alabama Poison Information Center

What led you to a career in healthcare?
I always wanted to be a nurse, even as a child. I wanted to help people. I did a clinical rotation at Children’s when I was in nursing school, so I knew it was a great organization and I was glad to come here when the opportunity arose.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
My mother has definitely impacted my life. She is a very hardworking woman and can always figure out how to handle difficult situations. Ann Slattery, my director, has also greatly impacted my life. She’s a great leader and has always been so encouraging.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?
Always be yourself. You don’t have to fit a specific mold to make change in the world. The world needs YOU, just as you are. Do what you love and enjoy. Be of service to others.

Lou Lacey
Director, Emotional Wellness

What led you to a career at Children’s?
I always had a sense I would end up at Children’s. I wanted to be involved in the mission and the history of this amazing place. I wanted to be connected to others who were invested in making the world a better place for our children.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
I’ve had too many women mentors to count but my grandmother was my guiding light. She grew up poor in rural Alabama but pushed herself beyond that to get her college degree in a time when that was highly unusual. She went on to start a school for children where differences were celebrated and those who were vulnerable were protected.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?
Don’t become a reduced version of yourself in order to fit into the mold of the expected. Have the courage to be thoroughly yourself and do it all with great love.

Kadambari Naik
Coordinator, Lab Education

What led you to a career at Children’s?
After graduation, I started working for a reference laboratory. Someone I knew from school highly recommended Children’s of Alabama. I accepted a position here as a Medical Technologist in 2008 and haven’t looked back since then. I find my work satisfying and enjoy working with my team. There is never a dull day!

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
My grandmother and my mom have always been the two women I’ve looked up to.

After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother took over our family’s farm and single-handedly managed it well for several years. She was very hard-working, energetic and always had a plan when things at the farm did not go well, whether it was broken equipment or staffing problems. She always told us that if you work hard good things will happen; and if they don’t, then at least you know you gave your 100 percent.

My mom has always been here for me! She is a great cook and taught me to cook at a very early age. After all these years, I realized that while teaching me to cook, she was actually giving me important life lessons…organization, patience, multi-tasking, maximizing resources and persistence.

What message do you have for girls trying to make their mark on the world?
I would tell them what I always tell my daughter. The one person who can help you is YOU! Always advocate for yourself, be your own voice.

Do not shy away from challenges whether it is at school, work or in your personal life. Focus on the big picture, don’t let minor setbacks hold you back, and remember it is never too late to follow your dreams!

Sherry Scarborough
Director, Volunteer Services

What led you to a career at Children’s?
I joined the staff at Children’s Hospital in 1978 as an executive secretary. I transferred from Baptist Medical Centers with my then boss, Jim Reed. Once at Children’s I knew I had found my career track of serving children and families. I loved the mission then. I love the mission now.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
My Mother was an at home Mom who raised five children and then became a professional floral designer in her late 40s. Mama taught us to work hard, believe in ourselves, look for the good in others, and “if you don’t have something nice to say, just keep it to yourself.”

I always admired Surpora Thomas, a previous VP of nursing (at Children’s). Mrs. Thomas was a strong leader with concern for young women at Children’s. She set the standards high for her nursing staff as well as the rest of us.

I always have admired Mother Teresa! Her selflessness and love of others is an inspiration.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?
Young girls should first learn to respect themselves and then others. Live by the golden rule. My advice to young women is to learn to live on their own without the help or assistance from parents or others before stepping into marriage or any other committed relationship. Then they will always know they can be independent and strong.

Val Slater
Nurse Clinician, Clinic 8

What led you to a career in healthcare at Children’s?
Since I was 7 years old, I always wanted to become a nurse, and that desired dream never changed. I just had a love for caring for people. What led me to Children’s in 1990 was after my Pediatric rotation on 4West. The nurses there were so loving and passionate toward the kids, and I have such a big heart for children. Prior to my rotation, I had put in applications at Children’s but never got a call back. On my last day of my rotation, I mentioned to Mrs. Johnson (one the nurses) that I had put in applications but never got a response, and I really want to work at Children’s. She took my name and phone number and told me that she would give it to her director (Bonnie Barnett). The next day I received a call from Mrs. Barnett, had my interview and was hired the very next day. That is God putting the right people in my space, and I knew then this is where the Lord wanted me to be and still going strong 32 years later.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
The first woman who had the most impact in my life would be my mom, Bettie Montgomery. No matter how hard nursing school got for me, she was always in my corner being my cheerleader and pushing me forward. There was one quote that she would say that always stuck with me: “Good, better, best, never, ever rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” This is one quote that I still use today. Other women who had an impact on my life, I call them my “hospital moms.” Their names are Mrs. Wilma Kenon (Griffin), Mrs. Mary Jones, Mrs. Sheryl Tyus, Mrs. Helen Wren and Mrs. Ruby Moncrief. These ladies took me under their wings, nourished my passion for nursing and developed me in the individual I am today. Last is my weekend mentor, Michell Gresham. She really taught me everything about critical care bedside nursing. I will truly be grateful and thankful for these ladies being in my life.

What message do you have for girls/women trying to make their mark on the world?
The message that I would give to girls/women is to never, never give up on your dream. No matter how hard things might appear, continue to keep pushing forward no matter what. If God has planted a passion in your heart, just know that He will give you the tools you need to fulfill it, but you have to be committed to the dream. Two of my favorite poems that PUSH me FORWARD and I still recite today are “Don’t Quit” and “Our Deepest Fear.” Remember if you can Dream IT, you can Believe IT, you can Achieve IT.

Myra Waddell
Staff Nurse, Critical Care Transport

What led you to a career in healthcare?
I always enjoyed helping people even as a young kid. A childhood accident eventually led me to the medical field. Working with kids interested me as got older after my experiences with hospitals and medical staff.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
At the risk of sounding super cliché, my mother, grandmother and sister have been the most influential women in my life. They are not famous, but they are my superstars! All three have taught me unconditional love and compassion, the value of hard work and to never give up regardless of the difficulty of the task. They are three of the strongest women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am grateful for them.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?
Let your light shine as bright as possible. You define yourself. Do not let anyone else define you or put you in a corner. There will be failures along your way. Learn from those failures and come back stronger. Never give up!

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