In honour of International Women's Day, this two-part feature, Women With Vision, is a glimpse at four strong women who are leaders in their field.
Rosa Rudelich, Vice-president and Chief Operating Officer of Covenant Health
Fate, faith and family: they’re all key ingredients in Rosa Rudelich’s recipe for success.
“I never thought I’d end up here,” Rosa says with a laugh.
Rosa is a first-generation Canadian and the eldest of four. She speaks both Italian and English—not learning the latter until she started school.
“My parents came to Canada for a better life,” says Rosa. “I definitely felt the weight of responsibility. After earning my accounting designation, I had to make a career choice; public practice is hard on family life.”
So Rosa joined Covenant Health, moving through a variety of roles including manager of financial services, vice-president of finance and chief financial officer (CFO), before accepting the role of vice-president and chief operating officer (COO) in fall 2016.
“From day one, I’ve been supported by the organization,” says Rosa. “We’ve had great leaders who have given me good advice and with whom I’ve developed solid working relationships.”
One of these people is Muriel Dunnigan, who chaired the Caritas Health Board (now Covenant Health Board) for several terms.
“We share similar values—a sense of integrity, perseverance and wanting to help people maintain their dignity,” says Muriel. "Rosa has a strong moral compass."
Rosa adds: “I was always challenged to think about the patient—to connect the work I was doing within my finance team to the people we’re serving.”
It’s a connection Rosa brings to her new role every day.
“The COO role is exciting—I wear a lot of different hats!” she says. “I’m a cheerleader for our people; a preserver of our culture and mission; a forager, to maintain the good things we have; and a leader, in setting the tone and direction.”
Being a woman in leadership is a big deal to Rosa, especially as the mother of three boys.
“I’m trying to raise good husbands, good citizens,” she says with conviction. “My husband and I both have careers, and I’m fortunate that my family stepped in to help raise my kids. It’s important my boys have an example: they see me working, contributing to society, and they understand how I juggle everything.”
When balancing the roles of mother, wife and employee, Rosa often turns to her colleagues for advice. Sheila Smith has worked with Rosa since she joined the organization and is now following in Rosa’s footsteps to take on the role of interim VP and CFO.
“Our backgrounds are so similar,” says Sheila. “Like Rosa's parents, I immigrated to Canada; we both raised three children and we both found a place with a Catholic organization. We don’t just have our family legacy to carry on—we also have our faith and the legacy of the Founding Sisters.”
“I’m a big believer in fate and faith,” adds Rosa. “Knowing yourself and being motivated by what’s really important—that’s how things work out in the end.”
Michelle Lummer, Acting Parking Administrator, Protective Services
Michelle Lummer has broken down barriers during her career in protective services. As a single parent who luckily had the support of her father, she put herself through college and became one of the first females in the field when she started working as a peace officer at the Misericordia Community Hospital in 1995.
"When I was hired, I was the second female officer," recalls Michelle. "Because it was a male-dominated industry, I was not seen as someone who was physically capable of handling certain situations. Every time I came on shift I had to prove that I could do the job and was capable of managing people."
Michelle is now in a leadership role at Covenant Health as Acting Manager and Parking Administrator, Protective Services. She is responsible for scheduling, recruiting and managing peace officers and parking at Grey Nuns and Misericordia.
Moving into her current role, Michelle says she was encouraged by Senior Operating Officer Linda Chow-Turner and was given the support she needs to succeed.
“Michelle’s courage and steadfastness stand out clearly,” says Stephen Slater, Michelle’s supervisor. “She is strong morally and takes things in her stride.”
"I've had managers who have helped me through times when I've struggled and I want to make that difference for someone else."
For Michelle, a job well done is all about patient care. It is what attracted her to the work in the first place and has kept her coming back for more than two decades.
"What attracted me to Covenant Health was the mission, vision and values that it holds. As a peace officer I want to help people," she says. "From the top down, it's all about the patients and the care we provide. As peace officers we are not always considered a part of the algorithm of being involved in patient care, but we are often the first contact, whether it be through parking, providing information or interactions in the emergency room."
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