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Fall 2011 - A Fraiche Perspective

Diversity Matters Newsletter
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The Women's Initiative at Baker Donelson is a concerted effort to help advance women in our Firm. Among the many events, programs and committees is BakerReads, a book club, brown-bag, lunch-time chat of sorts which brings together nearly 200 women by open invitation from each office to share observations, reading a pre-chosen book, usually on the topic of women in leadership. These quarterly video conferences have become as inspired as Oprah's book clubs.

Instead of a book on women in leadership, our last BakerReads meeting featured Teri Fontenot, a nationally acclaimed woman leader and CEO of our client, Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Teri is the incoming chair of the American Hospital Association, which is a national association of 11,000 member facilities that includes a number of the Firm's hospital and hospital system clients. Teri has served on a number of prestigious boards, including the Sixth District Federal Reserve Bank where she chaired its audit committee, and she also served as Chair of the Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health for the National Institute of Health. She was recently named by Modern Health Care as one of the 100 most influential persons in health care in the United States.

Teri could, perhaps should, write a "how to" book with lessons for leadership for aspiring women. Her practical and spot-on suggestions were enthusiastically received by participants from each office, who both complimented Teri's achievements and focused on trying to fathom how she was able to balance family and a successful corporate ladder-climb. Teri provided tips about the importance of excelling not only at the job you are given, but also for the jobs to which you really want to ascend. She suggested that women and men who also want to succeed need to out-work, out-produce and out-result their peers. It also helps to dress for the job you want. She believes strongly in mentoring others and building a collaborative team inclusive of supportive male leaders. She also enthusiastically endorsed making healthy lifestyle choices and wellness as part of every business's health care benefit structure, a concept that particularly caught the attention of a number of women in the Firm who also sought to follow up on implementing programs and suggestions.

The leadership and inspiration of Teri Fontenot, the interaction of our talented women professionals and the affirmation that women can be anything they want to be culminated in an unforgettable BakerReads.

Donna Fraiche is a shareholder in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC and a member of the Health Law and Public Policy departments. 

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