Photo by Jeannie Frey Rhodes.

In Character: Alison Walker

CONSIDERING, she is beloved by many for her even temperament and her open mind. She has a gift of bringing individuals of differing opinions together for a common outcome for the corporate good. She is reasonable and approachable. And she speaks ill of no one.

CONSIDERING, she retired two years ago as senior vice president for planning and business development for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, and she is still greatly missed. Her employment began in 1979, right after the new campus became the first hospital in the state to have all private rooms.

CONSIDERING, in her early career years at OLOL, she was open to moving elsewhere and onward, but she found that each new project she was given opened up new doors and gave her new responsibilities. “Every time I thought it was time to move on, something new came up to keep me here. After about 15 years, I finally realized that I would never leave because this was my home.”

CONSIDERING, she was the first female in administration at the hospital, besides nurses and nuns, and had to hold her own in a male-dominated industry. She did this with perseverance and grace, and she paved the way for the next generation.

CONSIDERING, she has served as an incredible mentor for many. “I love to help people be the best that they can be so that they can meet their goals.” She also recognizes that she was mentored well along the way, and she wanted to pass on that encouragement and knowledge to others to ensure the hospital continued to thrive.

CONSIDERING, she was never one to back down from a challenge. In the mid-1980s, when HIV/AIDS first came onto the public radar, she was appointed by the hospital to be part of a strong community task force to address the issue locally. It was a hot, and controversial, topic at the time. She took some of the task force’s ideas back to OLOL for implementation. “Throughout the years, I’ve been proud that the Lake has been big and bold to address the big issues. My involvement pushed me outside of my comfort zones and taught me essential lessons.”

CONSIDERING, she was the point person for the hospital when it reintroduced psychiatric services about 25 years ago. One of the last things she worked on before retirement was implementation of a psychiatric residency program at the hospital, together with LSU. The first class of residents graduated this year. “It’s been a dream to grow our own program.”

CONSIDERING, she has always been involved in the Baton Rouge community, with a special heart for organizations that address mental health and substance abuse. She served on the Cenikor advisory board over the years. She has also been involved in the Red Cross and Family Services, among others. Today, she is president of Quota Club, a group she has been involved with since 1985.

CONSIDERING, her retirement gift from OLOL, albeit unusual, truly represents her heart and mind: a landscaped rose garden with 28 roses. She has had great joy pruning the bushes and watching them grow, much like the employees entrusted to her care over the decades. Her patience, vision and encouragement makes everything, and everyone, better.