Mar 8, 2023 | Leadership, Faces of HDGH
Every year on March 8 we recognize International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements and a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. Jenniffer Clifford, Operations and Clinical Practice Manager of Specialized Geriatrics Program and Senior Friendly Care initiatives, is just one of many great female leaders at HDGH. Most recently, she has done an exceptional job managing a patient unit that was opened to support additional hospital capacity within the Windsor-Essex hospital system.
In this blog, Jenniffer shares the qualities she has gained that helped contribute to the success in her personal and professional life.
I am told I have been recognized as being a “strong female leader” and have been asked to share what it means to me to be a strong female in leadership. To be honest, I was a little surprised that someone thought that of me at all, but the more I thought about it, the more humbled I am to be recognized in this way.
I truly believe that who I am today and where I am currently in my professional career because of the many personal and professional experiences, both good and bad, that I have encountered and have made me grow stronger. Before my time in social work, I worked in the community for many years in group homes. Supporting some of the most vulnerable people, I spent a lot of time in hospitals as a care-partner battling and advocating for those I supported within the “medical model” field. My voice was often overlooked by medical teams as myself and the people I supported never really included me in any type of treatment planning and the treatment decisions were made based on what others felt the value of life was; when in reality, they had no idea about what quality of life really meant. Years of these professional experiences across our healthcare system led me to further pursue my education in Social Work and gain some graduate level credentials behind my name, so that I could advocate and be seen as a valuable contributor to the discussion. The same messages and ideas I tried to convey to upper management earlier in my career were now being heard. I consider the 11 years I spent in the community as my “foundation years”. They were some of the hardest and most rewarding years of my professional life.
With every experience I had, I walked away learning something about myself, and my passion began to ignite. As time went on both personally and professionally, I grew more comfortable with who I was and what I needed, and I learned to be unapologetically myself. I learned it was okay to take risks, to advocate for what I believed in, to question things I wasn’t sure about, to tell people exactly what I needed from them and realized I can only control myself and my actions in any situation.
Fast forward 12 years to when I moved into a leadership role, I quickly realized there is no handbook on how to be the perfect leader; nor does any exist. To boot, there are only a few of us in the clinical leadership team who are not nurses— that’s a whole other mindset of standards that a “social model” social worker like myself felt needed to figure out how to live up to – how could I lead NOT being a nurse? Two plus years in and I am still learning everyday how to navigate my many roles and responsibilities, and can now appreciate the fact that it’s awesome that I’m NOT a nurse, because I bring a different perspective and mindset to the table, and that’s not a bad thing!
- Sheryl Sandberg, former COO, Facebook
Here are the qualities I have gained from my experiences that helped me become a strong female leader.
Jenniffer is a Registered Social Worker (RSW) and holds both a Bachelor (BSW) and Master’s Degree (MSW) in Social Work from the University of Windsor. Jenniffer also holds a diploma from St. Clair College as a Developmental Services Worker (DSW). With over 20 years of experience in a variety of settings, Jenniffer has a passion for Specialized Geriatrics with areas of expertise that include Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Geriatric Mental Health, Caregiver Support, Developmental Disabilities, Dual Diagnosis, and Responsive Behaviours. Her passion for this population has led her to different opportunities around the organization, and provincially. In her current role, she is the Operations Manager of HDGH’s Specialized Geriatrics Teams, GAP & GMHOT, and she also acts as the Specialized Geriatrics Clinical Practice Manager for the organization. When she’s not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, their two children, many friends and family and golfing.
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