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Exceptional women leaders are plentiful amongst Cook Children's more than 8,000 employees. Join us as we look at a handful of them because they truly exemplify what is so great about saying #WeAreCookChildrens.
Courtney Barnard, director of Child Wellness for The Center for Children's Health, has often been the only woman in a room full of male community leaders over the past 11 years while in professional settings in surrounding communities.
But she never felt less-than in those situations.
"My mom and grandmother taught me that I have something important to contribute to this world," she said. "My supervisors and mentors coached me in asserting myself in those types of situations."
She considers her experiences as anomalies within this organization, Courtney said, because they do not represent Cook Children's culture and values of respect and collaboration.
"Here at Cook Children's, there are so many wonderful models of women in leadership to look toward—women in formal leadership and women who exhibit leadership through their actions," she said.
After a two-year stint as a case manager for the Cook Children's Homeless Initiative in connection with The Women's Center of Tarrant County, Courtney took a position as program coordinator of regional outreach for Center for Children's Health in 2013. It was a move she was thrilled to make, she said.
"It was also a big leap of faith for me, moving from direct family care as a social work case manager to community-level work implementing health improvement strategies. I had a lot of learning and growing to do in my role as coordinator," she said. "Thankfully, my supervisor coached me through all of it and entrusted me to take the reins over my responsibilities—and we experienced great success."
In 2018, she became program manager, before moving into the role of director for Center for Children's Health a year later. She now provides guidance and direction for Cook Children's five regional coalitions and its community asthma initiatives.
I was given the incredible opportunity to formally lead my team as a manager, and then as a director," she said. "I recognize it was a combination of several things: staying true to my values and commitment to improving children's health; perseverance and a strong work ethic; ongoing mentorship and coaching by some very special people; and sheer luck of timing for these positions to be available."
And she has been fortunate to have extraordinary supervisors in every position and phase of her career by providing mentorship and guidance on what it means to lead. Three women at Cook Children's stand out in that area, she said.
Courtney first named Ginny Hickman, who retired as AVP in 2017, because she "demonstrated excellence, intention and showed her how to grow and protect our department," she said.
She also made note of current AVP Marilyn Nappier, who has been her supervisor for most of her time at Cook Children's and who "provided many, many hours of coaching."
"She saw potential in me and invested way more than required of her position," Courtney said. "She recently developed a leadership academy for our department so that others have the opportunity to grow in their roles as well. I owe much of my success to her guidance."
Another woman Courtney credits for her success is Lisa Elliott, Ph.D., a Cook Children's psychologist, with whom she worked during her time in Denton County.
"We've had many conversations over the years about how to tackle long-standing community challenges," she said. "She taught me how to navigate some very tricky partnerships and situations, and I gained a beautiful friendship along the way."