Be the Change. Lead the Change. See the Change.
My first calling is as a nurse. As a young girl in the 1960s, I watched the actress Diahann Carroll on the television show "Julia" on our black and white television weekly. It was a story about a single black mother that was a nurse. I thought to myself, "I can do that. I like to help people." What motivates me is my passion for healing and to see others optimize their quality of life. Becoming a nurse afforded me the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of others. Optics is a critical element that influences success in this profession.
Early on in my career, I embraced my own personal and professional development, determined to be a self-motivated person with vision. Earning my Master’s in Business Administration provided me with the business acumen for executive leadership opportunities which led me to earning my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Along the way I acquired mentors that were African American, white, women and men. My inner strength has always come from my spirituality. My faith sustains me and keeps me anchored. I believe God led me to where I am today. It also underscores my servant-leadership style.
As a transformational leader and CEO, an essential skill is the ability to inspire others to be great leaders; to encourage them to embrace their failures just as much as their successes; and to always be willing to go where no one else has gone before. I never expected to find myself in my current position. I am the first African American president and CEO of a healthcare system in a county that is predominantly white. Knowing oneself and being confident in oneself requires self-awareness and humility.
My motto? "Be the change. Lead the change. See the change." Currently, I am also the first African American chairwoman of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce.
As a nurse and as a leader, I never settle for mediocrity. I push myself and others to always strive for excellence. I know this role as CEO of Effingham Health System will not be the pinnacle of my career. I believe opportunities await those who desire change. Being a CEO affiliated with other African American CEOs across the country allows me to culturally connect and have a greater appreciation and respect for the struggles that women of color from diverse backgrounds experience.
Fran Witt is the president and chief executive officer at Effingham Health System.