We continue our series on Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) members who are making strides in prominent leadership roles within our community. In this issue, we are spotlighting several influential women in the field of healthcare. We asked for their insight on how they got where they are today, what their advice would be to others and how the League has empowered them to achieve their goals. Here’s what they had to say.
Courtney Perschall Nalty
Project Manager, Foster Strategy
I have taken so many paths to get where I am today in the 55+ active adult real estate development industry. My first job out of college was in the Mardi Gras industry working with carnival krewes all across Louisiana and in other cities across the south, such as Galveston, Mobile and Tampa Bay. From there I went into advertising sales, but then Katrina hit. It was then that I stumbled upon the job I didn’t know I was meant for at Lambeth House. I spent 11 memorable years at Lambeth House learning, working and loving the wonderful residents. I even met my future boss, who I work for today. After my third baby turned a year old, I decided I was ready for a change. One day at Costco, I ran into my future boss, asked her if she was ready to grow her business and if she would consider me in that growth. It was not only a leap of faith but a full jump putting myself out there, but it was worth it. We met several times and discussed the future of Foster Strategy, a real estate company specializing in community development for the active aging industry. Three years later, it seems fate knew what it was doing.
I have two pieces of advice for women out there. First, do not assume you are set in your career path; it is okay to branch out into other industries no matter your age. Secondly, be bold, be brave and put yourself out there. You can do it.
JLNO has done so much for me. I think the network of women and connections you make are invaluable, but the volunteer opportunities to give back to this city, especially assisting women and children, has impacted me the most. It is well known in my industry that whole-person wellness is the nomenclature of a healthy lifestyle as we age, and one of the facets of this is volunteerism. Thanks for the great training, JLNO!
Kristin Van Hook Moore, MD
Pediatrics, Ochsner Health Center for Children, New Orleans
I wanted to be a physician for as long as I can remember. I initially thought I would specialize in pediatric intensive care, but during my second year of residency, I saw one of my clinic patients while working an overnight shift in the emergency room. She was so excited that her “doctor” was there, and her mother seemed relieved to see a familiar face. I realized I would really miss the opportunity to form relationships with patients and their families if I worked only in an ICU setting, so I opted for pediatric pulmonology instead and have loved every minute of it.
Becoming a pediatric subspecialist is a rather long process — four years of medical school, three years of residency and three years of fellowship. During that time, my husband and I lived apart for a total of three years, so I would say personal sacrifice is a large part of how I ended up finishing. I often tell medical students that 5% of being a good physician is being smart and 95% is working hard, paying attention to details and meeting patients where they are. I have had the privilege of caring for so many wonderful children over the past 19 years. Seeing what they and their parents have faced and overcome has made me a better person, and a better physician as well.
Make sure you love what you are doing! I would never have made it if I didn’t truly love my job. It makes the long hours and time away from other things you enjoy worth it.
I have had the unique opportunity to serve as chairperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Pediatric Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine. During my tenure on the Section Executive Committee, we have formulated a strategic plan and worked on improving communications with members and residents considering a career in pediatric pulmonology. The skills I learned serving on the JLNO Board and the knowledge I gained attending Communications Council meetings have been invaluable in that role. I could not have acquired that experience anywhere else in my professional life.
Elizabeth Foley Bucher, MD, FAAD, FACMS
Dermatology, The Skin Surgery Center
I attribute my success to hard work and focus. I’ve wanted to be a physician since childhood and was even that rare child who loved going to the doctor. As simple as it sounds, it boiled down to a lot of endurance, sacrifice and patience, but doubt was also a part of the process. There were times I explored other career options and interests, but my desire for medical school always came calling. Those doubts and my exploration manifested in me graduating with a degree in English with a concentration in Spanish, instead of the typical science degree. I decided to forego sitting for the MCAT (medical college admission test) as a college junior to study abroad in Spain. I even took a completely non-medical job after graduation, working in the business field for two years before starting medical school. Having given myself time to explore other options was hugely beneficial when the going got tough in medical school and beyond. I knew I was where I was supposed to be.
Another equally important key to my success was my tremendous support system. My parents placed value on education and provided excellent opportunities for me from the beginning. They taught me the importance of hard work, dedication, self-reliance and pride in one’s achievements, as well as the principle that anything worth doing takes time and effort. My friends were incredibly supportive during the long road of medical school, residency and fellowship, being sensitive to my ever-changing schedule and work demands when planning things so I could be included. I am grateful and indebted to my village for sure.
There is certainly more than one path to becoming a physician, and my happiest and most fulfilled classmates and colleagues are those that maintained authenticity in their approach to achieving their end goal.
One big factor in achieving success in any industry is seeking out formal leadership training and education. It amazes me how many people in leadership positions have zero formal leadership training. I count myself very lucky to have had a mentor who possessed these skills. I learned how essential it is to develop your innate leadership qualities to lead effectively, execute decisions and organize both people and tasks. These skills are crucial to commanding respect and becoming someone others want to collaborate with.
The Junior League has introduced me to some of the most impressive women leaders in this city. I’m energized by hearing what other female, career-driven women are doing to improve the lives of those in our community and develop themselves as leaders. I’ve enjoyed the speakers who have come to discuss topics ranging from financial literacy to everyday mindfulness. I believe in our relationships with our community partners who provide services to women in this city to fulfill JLNO’s mission.
Chief Executive Officer, Ochsner Baptist
When I look back and reflect on what brought me to this role today, it’s a culmination of hard work, relationships, focus and a pretty great group of people cheering me on. When I moved to New Orleans in 2002 for a one-year internship at Ochsner, I certainly never thought I would be sitting where I am today. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with New Orleans and the opportunities I had at Ochsner. So many people have been there to help me along both personally and professionally, and for that I am forever grateful.
My simplest advice is always be your authentic self. There are so many books and articles out there about how to succeed in careers and leadership. It can often be overwhelming and, at times, confusing. At the end of the day, know that you can work to grow and improve every day, while still being true to your values. About eight years ago, I shared with an Executive Coach that I worried my reputation of being nice might come back to hurt me as I continued to advance within the organization. She kindly reminded me, “Beth, you are successful not in spite of who you are but because of who you are.” Building relationships and having people want to work with me has become one of my best strengths and has truly led me to where I am today.
The League has done two things to help me get to where I am today. I joined JLNO shortly after Hurricane Katrina. It was a time when I was starting to question life in New Orleans — when it was difficult to live here, and so many of my friends had left. The Junior League provided me a sense of home and belonging, and it has since led to many incredible and lasting friendships. The League also taught me more about the importance of community and the role every one of us can play in that. In my new role at Ochsner Baptist, this remains true. We are trying to do our part to have a positive impact on this community, and we look forward to partnering with JLNO to continue to make that happen.