Founded by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary in December 1911, the Youngstown market of our ministry was led by women religious until the mid-1990s. These women helped provide innovative and vital health care during both world wars and navigated multiple financial crises. Through it all, they were agile and responsive to the ever-changing health needs in the Mahoning Valley.
Now, their dream of one hospital has evolved to three acute care facilities serving three counties: Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana as well as parts of Western Pennsylvania. And today, these three facilities are run by three extraordinary women.
Genie Aubel (pictured above, middle), president of Mercy Health – St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital, recalls her personal examples of strong women, one that is rooted in our Youngstown market’s foundresses.
“When it comes to strong women, I am immediately thinking of our Sisters of the Humility of Mary,” Genie shares. “We have a heritage and legacy that has been gifted to us by these women. These are women who left their home in France and immigrated across the world with nothing more than a piece of swampland that greeted them upon arrival.”
For Genie, her original career goals involved administration. However, she feels it was her ambition and positive outlook that has gotten her where she it today.
“I was young, I didn’t have any clinical background but rather, ambition,” she says. “I also believe you find what you look for in life. In my career, I did not look for barriers. Rather I focused on what I needed to do and not any self-imposing obstacles.”
And as for advice to others, Genie’s is simple.
“Dream BIG! This isn’t a dress rehearsal. We each only get one crack at life. If you have confidence, set out a plan, trust yourself and be kind to others, your future will forever be bright. There is nothing more admirable than having integrity, showing humility and appreciation to those around you.”
Kathy Cook (pictured above, left), president of Mercy Health – St. Joseph Warren Hospital, has appreciation for the many strong, female influences in her own life.
“These women invested in my professional growth early on,” she says. “They mentored me, showed interest in my development and inspired me to take risks, work through challenges head-on and accept the opportunity as it came, or open the door myself.”
When Kathy began her career, she never thought she would be in leadership, let alone president of a hospital.
“I started as a nurse on the intensive care unit. There, I met nurses that had worked full-time for 10-plus years and I thought that will never be me. Starting a family was a priority for me. However, my life had a different roadmap. A decade flew by before I had the chance to start my family and at that point, I was in leadership roles and loved what I did. I quickly realized you can have a career and a family. They are not mutually exclusive ideas; you CAN have both.”
Kathy was also kind enough to share a rule she lives by each day.
“I lead by respect. I show respect and therefore, I expect to be respected,” she says. “I believe we must be more mindful of how our words and our actions impact everyone around us. Not a day is gone that I don’t show gratitude to those who are committed to caring for our patients.”
And finally, Kathy has some advice for other females just starting out in their careers.
“As a young woman, I hope you understand that sometimes, your limitations are self-imposed. Every door that opens might not be the one you wanted, but it may have the ability to lead you on a path to new levels of success. Always bring joy to your work and you will always love what you do.”
For Kathy Harley (pictured above, right), president of Mercy Health – St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, it was her mother who inspired her to work hard and continues to remind her of the determination needed to get through the rough patches.
“My mother came from very little. While raising four children, she re-entered the workforce when I, her youngest, was in the 2nd grade,” Kathy shares. “She did it for us, for the benefits of her children having drums, flutes, dance lessons and braces. I recall a memory of sitting at a table helping time her typing speed so she could get better at her duties as a clerical assistant. That’s when I knew I could do anything as long as I focused and tried hard.”
Unfortunately, at times during her career, Kathy felt her success was based on aspects other than her hard work.
“At times, it was absolutely a roadblock because I was a woman, especially as I rose through the ranks,” she shares. “I always managed to get by with the lessons my mom taught me: focus on the work and do what was right. Today, here I am. I’m in a position where I am making a difference in my hospital, in our health system and in the community where I grew up in.”
For the many young women reading this, Kathy has these words of advice.
“Don’t ever let anyone stop you in your career, be open to opportunities even the ones you don’t think you want. Take chance and believe; you CAN do this!”
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