Louisiana Women: Teri Fontenot, Former CEO Woman’s Hospital

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BATON ROUGE, LA (LOCAL 33) (FOX44) – Teri Fontenot is known for her long standing career with Woman’s Hospital.

“Health Care was really not on my radar at all, It just happened that way, and it’s been such a fantastic, rewarding career.”

A career wasn’t always in her plan.

“I had envisioned myself in high school as a stay at home mom with 3 children. Had my first daughter when I was 20-years-old, and by the age of 22 I realized this marriage wasn’t going to last, and I was going to be a single mother raising a child by myself.”

She decided to get a degree in Accounting becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college.

“It was very unusual for women to be in professional degree programs like accounting, law and medicine, very unusual. There were less than 10% of the classmates of mine were women.”

Fontenot said some professors wanted to keep it that way.

“One person, one professor that I had, was very clear about supporting students that were in a particular fraternity, so I suspect that there were some men in the class that may have felt that way as well.”

Despite some push back, she held her head high.

“I didn’t dwell on it. I didn’t try to go in the room acting like a feminist, I went in like a professional.”

That professionalism carried over into her career.

“There I had opportunities to sit in board meetings as the CFO at 3 other health systems, and once again most of the time I was the only female in the room.”

At just 28-years-old she became the CFO of St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe.

She went on to become the CEO of Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge for 23 years.

Fontenot retired from Woman’s Hospital in March, 2019.

“I think gender should not matter that much, and I see today it doesn’t. In fact women are being more frequently invited and encouraged to go into board rooms. The diversity of thought and inclusion and getting those diverse onions, people are really starting to value that.”

Managing life as a wife, mother and having a thriving career wasn’t always easy.

“I look at it more as blending. So it’s not really one role or the other. It’s figuring out how to optimize your time to be fulfilled by both roles.”

With dedication, love and support Fontenot said anything is possible.

“I’m very interested in helping others, in particular women, reach their career goals as well. I think it’s important to pay it forward and I look forward to be able to continue to do so.”

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