Wendy Harrington has found that perfect blend of life.
She's found success in her career as chief executive officer and president of Hannibal Regional Hospital Foundation as well as peace at her home in rural Shelby County. Even when she worked for the University of Missouri, she commuted to Columbia, Mo., each day. She wanted to raise her family and live in her rural roots.
"After you go to college, and you start looking for jobs and you realize how important home is," she said. "I think it's nice to be able to come back. I think the Midwestern values and the things that we stand for in the Midwest are so important."
Those values trickle into her job. She's seen remarkable generosity working with Hannibal Regional Hospital Foundation's donors as well as with volunteers. Her own family, too, chips in where they can. Harrington said her children are always eager to help out with the annual Hannibal Cannibal.
"I think that in our generations, it's more of a blending of work and family, as opposed to you take a hat off when you go to work, and you take a hat off when you go home," she said.
She believes that she's blessed to have found a career and hometown that she's passionate about. She believes success is finding a job that doesn't feel like work, and she's found that at the Hannibal Regional Hospital Foundation.
"Find the positives and use them, and that's what you do in your career and I think that's what's helped me," she said. "I've found the things that I love, and when you love what you do it's not a job."
Family: Husband, Pete; daughter, Taylor, 15, and son, Jared, 13.
Education: Doctorate in Education, University of Missouri; Masters of Business Administration, University of Missouri; Bachelor of Science, Marketing, William Woods University; also have CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive).
Community involvement: United Way Board of Directors; Hannibal Rotary Club; University of Missouri Chancellor's Fund for Excellence Development Committee; MU Griffith's Leadership Society; Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce Member; and Prairie View Baptist Church.
What is your job, what do you do and what do you like best about it? Fundraising. I raise funds for Hannibal Regional Healthcare System. I love the ability to help sustain and grow our local health care. If we all stopped and thought about what it would be like to not have a hospital, a cancer center, etc., here in Hannibal, I think we would realize that we are so blessed to have a local health care system and we should be very proud of the level of care and services we have here at home. My family has relied on this health care system for years and I want to make sure it is here for many generations to come.
What is a typical workweek like? One of the best aspects of my job is that there is no "typical" workweek. My job is so diverse that one day I may be working with a donor on a potential gift, while the next day helping with the Hannibal Cannibal, while the next day in a board meeting planning our next major initiative. I love the diversity of my job, while I also love the constants. I am constantly surrounded by an amazing team at HRHF and work with caring and compassionate team members and donors at HRHS. At the heart of our mission is the families and patients that come to us in their time of need and I love to talk with families who tell me how grateful they are for the care they were provided.
What was your first job, and what do you remember about it? I started as a volunteer at Salt River Nursing Home in Shelbina, Mo., and then took a job there in the activities department through high school and some of college. I remember the great feeling of helping the elderly enjoy life, and engaging with them, especially those that didn't have family to come and visit. The older generations have so many stories to tell and have done so much to benefit our generations that I think we should all find ways to assist them and let them know they are valued.
How do you balance everything? I try not to think of it as balancing, but as enjoying. Because I love my job, I don't think of it as work. I am so blessed with an amazing husband and children that share my philosophy of work hard and play hard. We have many family hobbies that allow us to share quality family time together, and they are great about understanding that I can have a very hectic schedule, and they often jump in and assist with many of our HRHF events.
Which person has influenced you the most and why? My parents. I can't say enough about how much I admire, respect and love them and can't thank them enough for raising me in a Christian home, with strong values. They continue to influence me and my family and we are so blessed to have them in our lives.
Have you ever failed at something? How did you recover? I think it is important to realize everyone fails … many times. What the really important thing about failure is … did you learn from it? I remember in a past job I went to my boss and talked to him about an issue where I had erred. He looked me in the eye and asked if I had learned from the experience, which I quickly and adamantly assured him I had, and he said good, then it was a successful failure. I enjoyed that perspective and have tried to remember that, while constantly working to over plan so that failures are very limited.
What does success mean to you? Professional success to me is loving what I do and knowing that I am making a positive impact in the community. Personally, success is having a loving family and finding time to make and cherish beautiful family memories.
What was your proudest professional moment? Honestly, it was when I was offered the position of CEO of the Foundation. When I was offered the chance to come back and work with the community in growing and sustaining our health care, the health care that serves my family and neighbors, I was incredibly proud and humbled.
What is your favorite stress-buster/leisure time diversion? I admittedly have trouble sitting still or relaxing, but our family has horses, and we love to ride, and a nice long walk/jog in the country can turn any stressor in to a positive when surrounded by God's beauty. What is the biggest need in your community? Hannibal has a great group of businesses and industry that really supports the community, but I think, like most rural areas, we would greatly benefit from a broader base of business and industry. Increases in businesses would assist in helping our community become a stronger destination location. We have a fabulous chamber, arts council, and many great civic groups, etc. It would be very beneficial to have more businesses.
What gives you reason for optimism in your community? I find so many reasons to be optimistic when working with our donors. We see so many of our donors give so much of their time, talents and resources to help others, they give so selflessly and with such compassion. That gives me many reasons to be optimistic! You often hear, "It is in the giving that you receive," and I firmly believe this. Knowing that the gifts you make today will benefit generations to come gives us all reason to be optimistic about our future.
If you could go back in time and give advice to yourself when you were in high school, what would it be? Smile and have a grateful heart. Don't stress over things that seem big, but later you learn are small. Cherish time with friends and family, and remember my husband's favorite saying, "Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time." If you are doing it, give it your best shot … and smile while you are at it.
If you weren't working with the Hannibal Regional Hospital Foundation, what would you be doing? Lying on a beach enjoying a good book? No seriously, I would enjoy working in higher education, either teaching or in an administrative role.
If you could add a few more hours to the day, how would you spend them? With my family. There never seems to be enough time in the day or the weekend, and extra time with my family would be wonderful.
Do you live by any mantra or saying? When I get a little moody or start to get stressed, I turn to my favorite scripture which starts, "Let not your heart be troubled …" I think keeping a positive outlook on life and in each situation thinking "is this really worth worrying about" you realize that we should be thanking God for our blessings, not counting our troubles. And when it comes down to it, I revert to my dad's ever so famous saying … "It will be all right!" (followed closely by "Nothing good ever happens after midnight").
Career aspirations aside, name one thing you definitely want to accomplish in your lifetime. For my husband and me to watch our children grow up, and find happiness in their own families, work and community.