There’s a certain magic when the talents and passions of an individual line up with their profession. And that magic is evident when Anita Vaughn, one of the newest members of Paragon's Board of Directors, talks about her role in creating Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women. “I got this great opportunity, which has been the capstone of my career, when they asked, 'Would you plan, build, and lead the women’s hospital?'” But such an endeavor doesn’t happen overnight. Anita's position as CEO of the women’s hospital was the culmination of a 43-year career in the Baptist Hospital system. And, although she retired on March 31 of this year, her involvement with Baptist has no end in sight.
Although Anita has spent decades in the healthcare industry, her start in nursing came from a chance encounter with a friend. “I’d love to say that from a little girl I dreamed about being a nurse, but, no, I didn’t,” Anita says. “I was thinking I was going to be a commercial artist. Then one of my friends said, ‘I’m going to go down to Baptist Nursing School.’ And I said, ‘Me, too!’” While her start in nursing was seemingly coincidental, Anita believes that it was certainly the right path for her. “I just think it was God saying that was where I needed to be,'” she says. “It was the best decision even if it wasn’t where I thought I was going the year before.” From there Anita started her nursing career on the ICU night shift working her way up through the ranks to eventually become the CEO of the women’s hospital in 1998.
While her crowning achievement was planning and building the women’s hospital, her priority as CEO the last few years of her job was planning and building the pediatric program – the Spence and Becky Wilson Baptist Children’s Hospital. “The women’s hospital was the capstone,” Anita says. “But from the moment we laid the first brick, we wanted it to be a women's and children’s hospital.” Since her retirement, Anita has continued her work on the pediatric hospital through the Baptist Foundation where she works part time. She is currently leading the pediatric capital campaign, which is raising funds in part for the pediatric ICU with plans to open by January of 2017. There are further plans to extend the children’s hospital in the future as well.
In addition to her work in the healthcare field, Anita serves the Memphis community in other ways. She has been a member of the Women’s Foundation for more than 10 years and was chair for two of those years. For Anita, her involvement with the Women’s Foundation is a natural extension of her career at Baptist, “Their mission is to strengthen women and children, so they can be their fullest potential and get out of poverty. This multi-generational approach is congruent with what we do here.”
As a two-time graduate of the University of Memphis, with a Bachelors in sociology and a Masters in healthcare administration, Anita also enjoys serving as a member of the University of Memphis Alumni Board. As a native Memphian, Anita has a deep connection to her city saying, “The University is all about Memphis, and Memphis is all about the university. They really pin each other up.” The Alumni Board handles alumni affairs including contributions and alumni associations across the country.
Anita's contributions to her community do not go unnoticed. In 2016, she was awarded the University of Memphis Distinguished Alumni Award. This award is given to recognize alumni for distinguished personal and career accomplishments that bring credit to the university. She also recently received the “Diamond Award” from Holy Nation Church of Bartlett, which is given to women who have made an impact on the Memphis community.
Paragon was honored to have Anita join the Board earlier this year. Anita served on the Women’s Foundation and Southwest Community College Boards with Mary McDaniel, another Paragon Board member. Mary recommended Anita for Paragon’s Board because of her contributions in the healthcare field. “I feel like I’m entering my next journey, which is to give back,” Anita says. “That’s why I’m staying connected [at Baptist]. Hopefully I’m going to be able to be a great help to Paragon.” Paragon is pleased to have Anita as a member of the Board of Directors!