From hospital halls to Queen City coaching, Rita Gurian’s life and career have emphasized compassionate public leadership. The community advocate and professional development coach may have technically retired, but she has not slowed down her influence in the lives of Springfield residents.
“Many years ago, I embraced the role of being a leader as I continually found myself leading,” she says. “Sometimes, I sought the leadership opportunity, and many times I have been asked to lead a project, a group or organizations. My experiences of leadership and, in turn, influence, have included specific leadership in my career positions, civic and volunteer activities.
Gurian earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Baylor University in Texas, after which she served in nursing leadership at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and as head nurse for Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. In 1987, she moved to Missouri and took the helm as founding director of The Women’s Center and Breast Care Clinic for CoxHealth.
“I am very proud to have been able to lead the health system to establish the first full-service breast care clinic in southwest Missouri,” Gurian says. “This, at the time, leading-edge service changed the dynamic of how screening mammography and breast diagnostic exams were offered by establishing a dedicated specialty service that continues today to offer comprehensive, state-of-the-art clinical services.”
Her career with CoxHealth continued as assistant administrator for Cox Medical Center South, vice president of support services and vice president of organization development. Though Gurian retired from CoxHealth in 2011, her community involvement did not slow down. She began independently coaching and providing resources for her community through MyEncore Business & Professional Coaching, which she says is not organized as a business. She offers her expertise freely as needed to multiple organizations in addition to mentoring four to six individuals per year.
Gurian has sought to be an influential woman in her community, inspired by other women in leadership. She is purposeful with civic engagement including having served with the Junior League of Springfield, on the board for the Discovery Center of Springfield and on health care committees on the local, state and national levels. Additionally, she led James River Church’s outreach response in Joplin following the 2011 tornado devastation and taught a community leadership class at Evangel University. She also volunteers with I Pour Life and Victory Mission & Ministry.
“I have always wanted to use my leadership to influence what I am involved in to make a difference and an improvement to leave something better than when I started,” Gurian says. “I am not done being influential as I believe retirement from one’s career just gives opportunity to contribute and influence new things in new ways.”
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