Hispanic heritage spotlight: 6 thoughts on leadership from healthcare execs

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Becker's Hospital Review asked Hispanic leaders in healthcare to share their insights on leadership.

Here are six healthcare leaders who offer words of celebration for their heritage and what it means to be a Hispanic healthcare leader:

Lourdes Boue. CEO of Baptist Health West Kendall Baptist Hospital (Miami): As the daughter of Hispanic immigrants who fled a dictatorship in Cuba in search of freedom and opportunity, I am proud of the values of my heritage. With a strong work ethic, my parents built their lives in America and instilled in me the values of faith, family and giving back to the larger community. These values have shaped my four decades in healthcare and continue to influence my journey as a hospital leader. Each day, I am inspired by our team's tireless commitment to their patients, families and each other. Through challenges and changes, giving back to others in their most vulnerable times remains at the root of what we do. When I think about the opportunity my parents afforded me by coming to America, I hope that I am able to show others that determination and hard work make almost anything possible.

Alex Fernandez. Senior Vice President and CFO of Broward Health (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): As the son of parents, one of whom is a Cuban immigrant, who both value education, it was ingrained in me to be a lifelong learner. I have taken this value to heart and seek out opportunities to share my time and knowledge to help others learn. I am privileged to work alongside talented leaders, physicians, clinicians and team members who are willing to return the favor and share their respective knowledge with me. I am also fortunate to create pathways to learning for others. Through my partnership with the Palm Beach County School District, I helped to create a healthcare magnet for Acreage Pines Elementary School. This two-year endeavor has had a lasting effect on each new class of magnet students and their teachers. These students could be our next generation of nurses, therapists and doctors we so desperately need based on projected nationwide shortfalls. I am proud to be part of Broward Health, which is committed to educating and caring for the community.

Annie Garcia, MSN. Chief Nursing Officer of Del Sol Medical Center (El Paso, Texas): I'm incredibly proud to serve not only as a healthcare leader, but also a female Hispanic healthcare leader in El Paso, a city where I was born and raised. From a young age, I knew I wanted to be part of the healthcare industry, and it is because of the unwavering support of my family, friends and community that I've achieved everything I have today. El Paso is a tight-knit and growing city, and now more than ever, representation in healthcare is crucial. Recently, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare and the University of Texas at El Paso, my alma mater, announced a new partnership that aims to improve healthcare representation in advanced education. Partnerships like this help shape future community leaders, CEOs and future doctors and nurses. I am grateful to work for an organization that prioritizes diversity and allows me to be a voice and mentor to our future Hispanic leaders.

Javier Hernandez-Lichtl. CEO of Baptist Health Doctors Hospital and Chief Academic Officer of Baptist Health (Coral Gables, Fla.): I encountered many challenges when I moved from Havana, Cuba, to New Orleans at age 7. The sudden changes in language, school and environment were extremely intimidating at first. I overcame the challenges by observing and emulating my Spanish/German family's strong work ethic, commitment to education, acts of gratitude and pledge to help others. These values and behaviors served me well, propelling my career trajectory to vice president status by age 33. In my current role as CEO, I celebrate my heritage and pay it forward by mentoring young executives and creating education pathways that lead to advancement. I also impact the industry by demonstrating my passion for building stronger, more diverse and healthier communities.

Saul Kredi. Vice President of Supply Chain Management at Memorial Healthcare System (Hollywood, Fla.): Growing up the son of a Cuban mother and a Turkish father (who spent much of his life in Cuba), I learned early on about the importance of work ethic, education, sacrifice and pride.

My parents came to the U.S. in the early 1960s and struggled to overcome the language and cultural barriers they faced. It was understood in my family that the path to opportunity was paved with hard work, and that it was equally important to stay true to yourself and where you came from. These lessons were then reinforced by the diverse group of mentors I had starting out in healthcare more than 25 years ago.

Now that I'm in a position of leadership, I appreciate the melting pot of backgrounds in my department and how those voices need to be heard. I believe in investing in others and helping them succeed, just as my mentors did for me. As a team, we blend things together in order to contribute as a whole, with our diversity enhancing both the tangible and intangible products we provide for patients, clinical and administrative staff, vendor partners, and others that contribute to making a profound difference in the lives of others at times when they need it most.

Lincoln Mendez. CEO of Baptist Health Boca Raton (Fla.) Regional Hospital: I hope to serve as an inspiration to other Hispanic members of our community to never lose sight of your goals. There will be many obstacles, especially being a minority; however, it's important to establish a strong work ethic and lead by example. First and foremost, I believe the strong family values are imbedded in our Hispanic culture, and so the influence I have as a husband and father is what matters the most to me. Never forget where you came from; there is no better way to learn than from personal experiences. I was blessed to have strong role models at home with a father who was a minister and a mother who was an educator. We learned early on in life how much your strong faith impacts your life in terms of your ethics and how you treat others. I believe everyone wants to be surrounded by positive individuals, so make sure you are one of them. Lastly, success can be measured in a variety of forms — prioritize what matters most to you. From a work perspective, working as a team, establishing goals and implementing strategies to accomplish these goals is how I would measure success.

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