Anita Harden


Mentors Made the Difference

Ep. 32 - Anita Harden was the low self-confidence girl who fought off self-doubt all the time to become what she could have never imagined herself becoming, a hospital president. Anita talks about her personal battles to overcome recurring attacks of self-doubt fighting back the absence of self confidence born of her introverted personality but all the while recognizing her abilities to achieve each goal she established. Her career was fueled by mentors and personal cheerleaders helping her to elevate from nurse to hospital president to entrepreneur as she entered retirement. She put a lot of effort into whatever role she got and never stopped thirsting for knowledge which led to good outcomes.

Top Takeaways:

    • Learning to build your confidence over time after it had been destroyed
    • How to build a working program with good outcome through effort and creativity
    • How to contribute to the community through active volunteerism- giving back as it was given to you
    • The importance of taking the available opportunities in board membership positions and balancing that with your job

Listen in to learn how you can grow your career from what you thought it would be to even greater heights by seizing opportunities.

"Take all the opportunities available to you, but be mindful of a balance between your job and your community." -Anita Harden

Anita Harden, R.N., M.B.A., began her career 40+ years ago as a mental health nurse, and after a brief time teaching at Indiana School of Nursing, she spent more than 35 years with Indiana's Community Health Network. In 2004 she became President of Community Hospital East in Indianapolis. Her parting gift to Community was the establishment of an endowment to benefit mentally ill patients. Upon retiring, Anita became founder/President and CEO of Interim Executives, LLC which provides leadership to non-profit organizations during periods of transition.

The Touchstone Awards is an annual event that honors four women who are outstanding leaders in their careers and in community service:  "A Touchstone is a rock used to test the purity of gold," said Patricia Wachtel, President and CEO of Girls Inc. Indianapolis Chapter founding member Anita J. Harden was one of those honorees. Anita J. Harden, Interim Executive Director of the Madame Walker Urban Life Center, came to the Walker with more than three decades of operational and leadership experience. She currently oversees their day-to-day operations and participates while contributing to the strategic planning process.  She works closely with the Madame Walker leadership team to create programs and events that preserve the legacy of Madame C.J. Walker through arts, entertainment, cultural education, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement.

As part of its 100th Anniversary Celebration, Indiana University School of Nursing honored Anita  with the Alumni Legacy Leaders award which recognizes the outstanding contributions of 100 or more than 19,000 living alumni.  She received the Sagamore of the Wabash and was inducted into the Indiana Public Schools Alumni Hall of Fame.  She has been honored by the Center for Leadership Development and Who's Who in Black Indianapolis.

Ms. Harden graduated from Indiana University's School of Nursing where she received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Nursing, and a Master's degree in Business Administration. She was recently named the chair of The Indiana University School of Nursing's board of advisors.

She serves on the boards of Citizens Energy Group, Christian Theological Seminary, The Indianapolis Zoo, and Choices Coordinated Systems of Care, Inc. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis.  She is a member of Rotary Indianapolis, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and Light of the World Christian Church.

Learn the benefits of being a board member to work with the community and how to balance that with your job.

 Key Moments:

Anita describes her childhood, her education, and her experience with racism and being treated differently [1:13]

Why she was more concentrated on her studies than activism even though she was in school at the height of the civil rights movement [9:44]

She explains how she went from the clinical aspect of things to hospital managerial positions [13:24]

How she was influenced to give back to the community by the coalition of 100 black women [23:44]

Why she believes that young people should embrace opportunities in board memberships and learn to balance that with their jobs [27:30]

How to find a purpose and fulfillment for retired or approaching retirement women [30:05]

The ways in which women can keep off dementia by keeping their brain active [33:35]

Touchstone Award

LinkedIn Anita Harden

IU School of Nursing

IU News


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