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Women Leaders at AdventHealth Embody What It Means to Advocate for Others

Women Leaders at AdventHealth Embody What It Means to Advocate for Others

Jessica Brazier, diversity, equity and inclusion officer for AdventHealth, works closely with leaders across the organization to create an inclusive environment of care in which everyone can thrive – team members, patients and the community. Click on the video to learn more about her journey.

The theme for 2024’s Women’s History Month is “Women Who Advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.” At AdventHealth, there are many across the organization who work to empower others and break down barriers to help people reach their full potential. As Jessica Brazier notes in the video above, “In health care, we are uniquely positioned to help a diverse array of people unlock their potential – whether they’re delivering care or receiving care.”

Highlighted here are five women serving in different roles who advocate for DEI.

"Without shelter, good health is often compromised. Making a difference starts in our own backyard, and we can help those in need by being their voice." - Shannon Gravitte

Shannon Gravitte

Shannon Gravitte is the vice president of government advocacy for AdventHealth. She chairs the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, working to provide a broad network of support services to individuals experiencing homelessness.

Gravitte also volunteers at Give Kids the World, a local nonprofit organization that provides dream vacations to terminally ill children, and Horizon Scholars, an organization that provides mentorship and college scholarships to students. Her efforts have enabled two women to become the first in their families to graduate college.

"A retiring leader once encouraged me to mentor the next generation." - Jessica Schuman

Jessica Schuman

Jessica Schuman is the chief legal officer for AdventHealth’s West Florida Division. She’s passionate about nurturing relationships with team members from different faiths and backgrounds.

Having experienced unique challenges as a working mother, Schuman said she’s benefited from the guidance of leaders like Amanda Maggard, president and CEO at AdventHealth Celebration. Schuman works closely with Maggard on the AdventHealth Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) steering committee. She also leads educational events as the chair of her local WLF chapter, Ladies Who Lead. Over her career, she has guided over 50 women on work-life balance and career growth.

"My mom taught me that it wasn't about how someone looked, but how they made you feel,” she said. “My grandmother also shaped my faith while my older brothers taught me resilience.” - Fay Peraza

Faye Peraza

Faye Peraza is the assistant vice president of human resources and organizational effectiveness at AdventHealth Ocala in our West Florida Division. With support from her leader, she produced and directed a team member video titled “Finding Common Ground” to highlight what unites AdventHealth's diverse community.

Peraza’s upbringing on a military base in New York City as a first-generation Filipino exposed her to diverse cultures. She remembers their home was always filled with different individuals, which contributed to her passion for promoting a sense of belonging for all.

“Conference day is like ‘game day’ for me,” said Buenger, who grew up playing sports. “I didn’t have to struggle with feeling empowered, and that inspires me to provide opportunities for others.” - Kate Buenger

Kate Buenger

Kate Buenger, partnerships and events manager at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in Kansas, helps provide a collaborative space for women to learn about their health and wellness. She’s the driving force behind AdventHealth’s Living in Vitality Conference, which attracts over 1,200 women annually.

Buenger evaluates the health and wellness needs of women in her community to select conference topics and ensures diverse representation on the event’s steering committee. She leverages her knowledge of diverse groups and experience with DEI committees and councils to bring an understanding of DEI to the conference.

“My passion is to give back, helping people and helping the public.” - Jamilah Felix (from an Experience Kissimmee video, where she was recently recognized and profiled)

Jamilah Felix

Jamilah Felix, a government advocacy manager in AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division, actively connects resources to those who need them most.

Recognized as a “Florida 40 under 40” leader by the News Service of Florida, Felix is dedicated to supporting underrepresented individuals.

Felix started volunteering for a homeless ministry at a young age, working with her church to provide shelter, food and other resources to individuals in her Kissimmee community.

She also helped victims of human trafficking get back on their feet.

Executive Leaders Share Lessons

In addition to the examples above, an article in Southern Tidings magazine featured five women executive leaders at AdventHealth who have worked diligently and intentionally, not only to mentor and encourage other women into leadership but to also be an example so that the next generation can step into leadership and make a difference.

How One Physician Is Inspiring the Next Generation

Nathalie McKenzie, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at the AdventHealth Cancer Institute, mentors physicians in developing countries to better care for women with gynecologic cancers. Dr. McKenzie views Women's History Month as more than just a time to reflect. Learn more about the work she is doing here.

Additional Recognition

AdventHealth was recognized by Newsweek as one of America’s Greatest Workplaces for Women 2024. Nancy Cooper, global editor and chief, stated, “We hope this ranking, which recognizes the companies that are committed to creating equitable workplaces, demonstrates how effective strong leadership can be and also proves useful to job-seekers looking for the kind of corporate culture they want to be part of.”

Included in Becker’s Hospital Review’s list of “Women Hospital Presidents and CEOs to Know,” were these four AdventHealth leaders:

  • Audrey Gregory, executive vice president and CEO for AdventHealth East Florida Division
  • Penny Johnson, president/CEO for Texas Health Huguley Hospital Fort Worth South, Southwest Region
  • Kari Vargas, CEO for AdventHealth Winter Garden and AdventHealth Central Florida Division's Northwest Market
  • Jennifer Wandersleben, CEO for AdventHealth Heartland Region

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