Women’s History Month gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past, and the women who have shaped our world and touched our lives through their vision. Carol Gray, Senior Vice President of Mission and Culture at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital, is inspired by the quote “Embracing the past may be the key to protecting the future.” She knows we can learn from events, outcomes, and the ordinary people who have been called to their destiny in life.
The Path of the Past
One of those “ordinary” historical figures is Mattie Mallory, who founded what would become TCCRH in 1898. Carol feels a strong connection to Mattie through their shared calling, which led her to the hospital almost 45 years ago. Carol had always loved children and graduated from SNU with a degree in elementary education. In 1977, she was invited to visit the center for a job interview. She is sure that God spoke to her in those moments, and something came over her that she couldn’t explain. She took the job of Volunteer Coordinator, saying, “I don’t know if this is for me, but I do know that I will never be the same again.”
Looking back, the path laid out for Carol is easier to see, but at the time she simply followed her heart, without always knowing why. She took on a leadership role early on, jumping in to care for the children, scrub floors, brighten the facility and train new employees. She credits her parents with instilling a strong work ethic in her, and the knowledge that she could always make things better. She shared those family values with her brother, Albert, who was brought to The Children’s Center in 1978 with a mandate to shut down the struggling facility. “I was seeing the value, the mission, the heart of this place, these kids and what could be done,” Carol recalls. “Then Albert began to see what I saw.”
Believing in the sanctity of life and committed to caring for the children, the Grays used their unique skills and talents to persevere through challenges, always with an unwavering belief that that God would provide. “I was in my best place, working with the children. Albert was out talking to people. God began to bless us,” Carol says. They kept the facility going, and under their leadership it has grown into the outstanding pediatric hospital it is today.
Living in the Present
In recent years, Carol has transitioned from Chief Operating Officer to her current role. “I believe that God put into my heart to finish well, and to instill in the next generation the mission that has really made this place successful,” she says. “To help pass on a sense of purpose and why we do what we do to the next generation.” Her greatest hope for the future of the hospital is that it stays true to its mission and founding principles.
“I see so many gifted and talented young people called to our mission,” she shares. “I call it having a ‘fire in your bones’ for quality, integrity, excellence, and all of our core values. So many have caught the vision, and it gives my heart relief to know that God calls each generation to do his work.”
Heather Wilson, named Chief of Mission and Culture in 2020, is one of those who is inspired by Carol’s faith and her passion for the hospital’s mission. “Carol is my mentor, inspiration and guide daily in this role. She inspires me with her love and passion for God. She fills my mind with knowledge to make the best decisions based on the past, present and the future. She listens and guides me with a mission-focused mentality. She loves me through the challenges that come with leadership.”
Promise for the Future
Although Carol says there will come a time when she’ll retire, as long as she can contribute, she will stay. She is currently immersed in creating a display in the bed tower that shares the rich history of TCCRH, ensuring that future generations will recognize the contributions of those who came before. But it’s her everyday leadership that continues to inspire the next generation of leaders to carry the hospital into the future.
Heather shares, “I am blessed to have Carol by my side to ensure that TCCRH continues to exemplify our Christian heritage and mission in everything that we do. What a priceless opportunity to work together to transfer knowledge and passion as I learn the role and expectations. My commitment to Carol is to ensure that her legacy lives on and on for the next 100 years through my leadership, love for God and passion for our mission.”