CHE Spotlight – Jennifer McCue

May 18, 2021

Please join us in celebrating the amazing Certified Health Executive (CHE) members, who are at the heart of the College, through monthly ‘CHE Spotlights’. Learn more about what makes these exceptional leaders tick. From leaders in mental health and wellness, equity, diversity, and inclusiveness (EDI), to mentors and emerging leaders, our CHE members are dedicated to life-long learning and to leadership in healthcare. 
We are so excited to highlight Jennifer McCue this month. Jennifer is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Bethany Care Society, which is one of the largest faith-based, not-for-profit providers of senior’s services and affordable housing in central and southern Alberta. She is a registered nurse, with a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and a Masters of Science in Health Services Administration. Jennifer joined the College in 2009 and earned her CHE in 2017. 
“The pandemic has demanded incredible resilience from leaders, and the LEADS leadership framework has really helped our leaders shore up theirs. Their resilience has ensured the ability to cope with the challenges in the workplace and in their personal lives.” 
Jennifer recalls that she wanted to be a nurse as far back as she can remember. Her father died from a cardiac event when she was only six years old, and she wanted to understand why he died so young. She said that she enjoyed an amazing 10 years as a coronary intensive care nurse, learning about the heart and how it works and experiencing the privilege to care for so many people during their health journey. 
In her career, Jennifer had roles that were unique and diverse which have helped her lead during the pandemic. These experiences have given her lots to draw upon. They have helped her ask the right questions at the right time, and steer people in uncertain times. Her mother passed away in Long Term Care (LTC) during the pandemic. Her personal journey became part of her own pandemic leadership approach. Jennifer not only understood the grief and loss but also the importance of doing what is right for those she serves. Jennifer ads, “As I provided leadership to my organization, my own journey has allowed for more meaningful connections.” 
When asked if the COVID-19 pandemic has affected her leadership style relating to LTC, Jennifer said that Continuing Care has struggled to get the recognition it deserves as a vitally important part of a high functioning health system. COVID-19 exposed the vulnerabilities in LTC that some individuals have been raising for years. Her role at Bethany has become far more outwardly focused than it has ever been before, advocating for resources to address immediate issues created by the pandemic and focusing attention on the need for system transformation. 
CCHL and the CHE 
Jennifer joined the College mainly for the network but turned her attention to being an advocate for leadership in the continuing care sector. She says that the College has a role to play in developing and supporting leaders across the health system. COVID-19 has demonstrated that, for too long, we have not given enough attention to leadership in continuing care and that she’s doing everything she can to change that. 
It is important for Jennifer to hold the CHE designation because, for the continuing care system to contribute to a high functioning health system, we must develop our leaders. She believes that the notion that somehow continuing care is where people go to finish their careers is incredibly frustrating. Continuing care is important, inspiring work and obtaining her CHE and encouraging others to do so demonstrates the value of leadership and attracting strong leaders to this field of healthcare. 
Bethany Care Society has embraced the LEADS leadership framework. During COVID-19, Jennifer saw firsthand the value of investing in the development of their leaders. During a crisis, leaders need to be self-aware, work to their strengths, engage their teams, and be able to effectively communicate with those they lead. Bethany is an organization committed to developing their leaders and promoting the CHE as part of that journey. 
Jennifer will be joining the College’s Brenda Lammi in a webinar entitled Leading in Long Term/Senior’s Care During the Pandemic on September 9, 2021. 
You are also invited to join CCHL’s Brenda Lammi and Dr. Jaason Geerts for a Campfire Chat on May 27, 2021 at noon EST as they welcome special guest André Picard, Globe and Mail health columnist and best-selling author of Neglected no more. André will discuss approaches to reimagining long-term care, along with leadership lessons and a rough blueprint of what is needed to drastically improve LTC as an integrated key component of the health system. 
We would like to thank Jennifer for her time and for sharing her experience and perspectives with the Canadian College of Health Leaders’ members in this CHE Spotlight.