When Connie Moreland Smith first began her studies in the health care field more than three decades ago, she and her husband, Ricky K. Smith, left Albany for nearby Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Now, some 32 years later, Smith has not only excelled in her career field choice of becoming a nurse, but she has taken that success to the highest level in the area of health care management,
Smith currently is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Commonwealth Health Corporation, the parent company of the Bowling Green Medical Center.
While she has collected several awards, honors and accolades throughout her career, one of the most prestigious awards given in Bowling Green and Warren County landed on her desk earlier this month.
The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce announced in early October that Smith would be the recipient of the 2012 Athena Award during a press conference held at the Martin Dodge Jeep Chrysler Ram Showroom, the Bowling Green business that sponsors the Athena Award.
Although she has been away from Albany and Clinton County for more than three decades now, she still cites the values she learned while growing up here, as one of the main reasons her professional career has been so successful.
“I feel fortunate that I have grown up in Albany. I learned a strong work ethic from my parents and grandparents, and that stayed with me in college and throughout my career,” Smith told the Clinton County News recently when asked about being named the Athena Award winner this year.
Smith is the daughter of Willie and Dean Moreland of Albany, and the granddaughter of the late Willie and Eunice Bowlin, and John and Bessie Moreland.
She and her husband, Ricky K. Smith, have one daughter, Melanie Wyatt, married to Jeremy Wyatt, and they have a son, Lincoln.
A graduate of Clinton County High School, she also remembered the lessons and values she learned growing up here as well as through her affiliation with her church in the Cartwright Community of Clinton County.
“The values I learned as a child growing up in a small community and attending Stony Point Baptist Church – caring for each other and helping others – is a strong part of me today. I love my job, but I get the most satisfaction when I can reach out to others,” Smith told the Clinton County News via email earlier this month.
Smith said that while she will always be a nurse at heart, it was her choice to become involved in the health care management field that had been extremely rewarding.
“I’ve worked for Commonwealth Health Corporation for 32 years, beginning as a nursing assistant while going to nursing school. Once I received my RN license, I started working as an RN and worked in several clinical areas before going into management. In 1998, I became Chief Executive Officer of The Medical Center. In 2005, I accepted the position of Chief Operating Officer for Commonwealth Health Corporation, and became President and Chief Executive Officer in January 2011,”Smith said, looking back on her career path in Bowling Green.
The company that Smith now serves as President and Chief Executive Officer for, Commonwealth Health Corporation, is Warren County’s largest private employer.
In announcing that Smith would be the 2012 Athena Award recipient, Brad Howard, Chamber Board of Directors chairman, applauded Smith’s award.
“Connie represents the ATHENA spirit in her professional and personal life. She is an incredible executive, volunteer and a loyal, proud member of this community,” Howard said. We are excited to honor her with the ATHENA Award.”
Smith is the 28th recipient of the Athena Award, and she will be formally honored at the Athena Luncheon this week, held at the Indian Hills Country Club on Thursday, October 31.
Smith was one of eight Bowling Green area women nominated this year.
According to the recent press release, the Athena Award has honored local business people for contributing to the advancement of women in the workplace by presenting well-deserving business leaders with the Athena Award for the past 28 years. The award celebrates positive role models in the business world—more than 3,000 women and men to date—on local, state, national and international levels.
The ATHENA Foundation is dedicated to recognizing individual leaders that have opened doors of opportunity for women in the workplace and beyond.
The release also went on to point out her work in partnering the Bowling Green Medical Center with Western Kentucky University and the health care field of study program there.
“Under Smith’s leadership, construction of The Medical Center WKU Health Sciences Complex was completed in August, 2013. In partnership with Western Kentucky University, The Medical Center’s investment doubled WKU’s Nursing School capacity and provided a state-of-the-art home for WKU’s new Doctorate in Physical Therapy degree program. Her dedication to the healthcare industry is just as evident outside the walls of CHC and The Medical Center. She has tirelessly served in statewide leadership roles for the past several years, most prominently as a Board Member of the Kentucky Hospital Association,” the press release stated.
Smith expressed her gratitute to those who work closely around her, both at her place of employment as well as out in the Warren County and Bowling Green community.
“I am deeply appreciative of the outstanding physicians and employees I am privileged to work with, and of the many community leaders who volunteer their time on the board of directors to guide our organization,”Smith said. “I am honored to receive the Athena Award, and I share that honor with all those who have helped me along the way – that certainly includes my church and my family, friends, teachers, and many others from my hometown. I feel very blessed.”
While Smith may be more recognizable in Bowling Green and Warren County as an administrative leader in the health care field there, she says that deep down, she will always fall back on her original health care career choice.
“Most of my career has been in administration. Even so, I’m a nurse. No matter what else I become, I will always be a nurse,” Smith said.