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Women’s History Month: Cumberland Valley Profiles, Part I

Since 1987 Women’s History Month has celebrated the accomplishments of women in history, culture, and society. Each week during March, CAEDC will highlight the achievements of a few women in the workforce throughout Cumberland County.

Kristen Turner is the CEO of Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Mechanicsburg. She started in this role in September 2022 but has been with the company in Health Care Administration since 2008.

Lorelee Isbell is the Executive Director of the Career, Mentoring, and Professional Development Center at Shippensburg University and has been in her position for about two years. Prior to her current role, she worked for 23 years with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), of which Shippensburg University is a part.

These women share their perspectives on Women’s History Month, their experiences and wisdom as women in the workforce, and the people that inspire them.

What qualities make a great leader?

Kristen: Ambitious, invested, genuine, approachable, one who fosters individuality and encourages the best in people.

Lorelee: A great female leader must embody qualities that span a variety of skill sets and characteristics. They are direct and truthful yet remain compassionate and caring. Second, they value teamwork and inclusivity. Third, they must be clear and concise communicators and decision-makers. Finally, they stay calm and provide clear direction in high-stress or crises.

What do you wish you had known early in your career?

Kristen: Allow myself to fail and know it doesn’t define me. Instead, it molds me. And allow myself grace to grow into the person I am today and know that the growth does not stop.

Lorelee: I wish I had known just how important it is to build your professional network. Someone you meet one or two times may show up in your work or career at any point. Establishing and maintaining strong relationships is a cornerstone of your career path. I also wish I had understood the value of a mentor or network of mentors. Several people in my life now are willing to invest time into my professional growth. I am currently learning to give back in that area and becoming a mentor.

What advice would you give young girls/women interested in your industry?

Kristen: Say “yes” to all opportunities, even if it doesn’t mean it ends in a promotion or recognition. Being a part of the process is the reward that will ultimately add to your growth.

Lorelee: Stop apologizing! The only time you should apologize is when you have done something wrong. At that point, apologize once and move on. As women, we tend to over-apologize and do it for things that don’t need an apology. Eliminating this moves us into a space where we better demonstrate our strengths and allow people to see our values.

What female public figure, past or present, inspires you and why?

Kristen: Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx.  It sounds strange, but I follow her on Instagram. She was like you or me with an idea, and she didn’t give up on that idea. Instead, she took her vision and made it into a reality. Her road to success was not all positive, but she persevered.  Today, she has a very successful business and continues to elevate with different products. In addition, she gives back to the community with her Foundation and donations. I admire that she is successful with something she was passionate about yet still exudes kindness towards others.  Words from her, “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”

Lorelee: Una Martone has continuously inspired me since I met her 14 years ago. She is the President and CEO of Leadership Harrisburg Area. Una embodies all the qualities of a great female leader. She is a model of servant leadership and serves her team and her organization first. Una is a mentor, coach, and teacher to many individuals and organizations. She doesn’t work with the intent of being a leader; she serves her community first and does so through a dynamic and engaging leadership style.

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