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Programs News Kevin Storr February 17, 2022

Lenetra King, founder of Watch Me EXCEL™ and health care industry C-Suite veteran, has been named an Executive-in-Residence for the UAB Department of Health Services Administration. She is the first female and the first African-American named to this role.

“It is very humbling and such an honor for me, however, I think about what this means for so many other students who look like me to know that I grew up in a small town (Montevallo, Alabama), attended an HBCU (Florida A&M University) as a first generation college student, had an amazing career and now I get to blaze a trail on my own terms,” said King, who spent 15 years as a hospital C-Suite and integrated health system senior executive. “I can fully advocate for causes that are meaningful to me such as social justice, leadership equity and health equity, while running my own company – these are all very important as I think about my life as well as my legacy.”   

“Our students will learn so much from Lenetra about the best practices for guiding health systems in competitive markets and leading people in difficult times,” said Christy Harris Lemak, Ph.D., chair, Department of Health Services Administration. “However, the biggest lessons they will learn are those that are the most difficult to accomplish – being a catalyst for cultural and operational turnarounds – and Lenetra has done that several times during her exceptional career.”

King is an alumna of the UAB M.S. in Health Administration program (MSHA Class 38), which is the top-ranked MSHA program in the nation according to the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings. In addition to her exceptional professional attainments, she has been a community trustee having volunteered for non-profit organizations such as the Junior League and Boys and Girls Clubs.

She also has served as a volunteer mentor for the National Association of Health Services Executives and the American College of Healthcare Executives. The top draw for her to accept the role of Executive-in-Residence was the opportunity to make a direct impact on so many future health care leaders.

The lessons King would like them to carry throughout their career are these:

  • Everyone’s Journey is Different – not every graduate will be a hospital vice president within a few years of leaving UAB. It is easy to compare yourself to your cohort peers especially in such a well regarded program as UAB. However, chart your own career path that is aligned with your mission and values, and don’t be afraid to take smart and calculated risks to achieve your goals.
  • Be Intellectually Curious – wherever you go, be curious, learn to ask great questions and get engaged in the work of the organization. Be intentional about going after varied experiences, and remember that sometimes the best learning opportunities will not come with the fanciest job titles.
  • Always Prioritize What Matters – life is fleeting, and only you can determine your life and career priorities. Go after what you want with passion, always choose integrity, have humility, open the door for others as you climb and give generously of your time  to make a difference in your community. 
  • Be Self-Aware – to be a highly effective leader, you need to have a good baseline of your own strengths and growth opportunities as well as how you are perceived by others. To that end, dig deep to understand your skill and competency gaps, don’t be afraid to ask for transparent feedback and be coachable so that you are not operating from blind spots that could be potential career derailers.

King’s plan is to meld her rich corporate experiences and her current entrepreneurial path with academia. She looks forward to sharing her experiences navigating the health care industry as a Black female leader. She believes all students will benefit from her leadership lessons on building critical relationships and steering through workplace politics, the role mentorship and sponsorship play for the career success of women and multicultural leaders as well as the importance of growing leadership capabilities to drive culture, engagement, quality, and bottom line performance.

In addition, King’s role as Executive-in-Residence, which was effective February 1, 2022, includes facilitating an environment in the classroom that further emphasizes the department’s respect for and development of skills that engage those of other cultures, backgrounds, classes, identities and more.

“I have been very involved with the Department for several years and I have been so impressed with Dr. Lemak’s leadership and her genuine commitment to creating an inclusive environment, as well as her passion around advancing more women into senior leadership roles,” said King. “She and the department are doing phenomenal work and it was easy for me to say yes especially as I thought about contributing to the continued success of future generations of healthcare leaders.”

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