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Women in Business 2020: Dr. Ninfa Saunders

A special advertising section championing our local women in business. In partnership with Cox Communications. Submitted photo.


Navicent Health 

President and CEO  

777 Hemlock St., Macon, GA 31201 



What is the mission of your business?

Together, we elevate health and wellbeing through compassionate care, for all.  


Your advice for women wanting to start their own business in Macon?

Macon provides wonderful environment for a woman wishing to start her own business. There are so many locally owned businesses, particularly in the downtown area, which is experiencing a renaissance, and there is a continuing and growing push to #buylocal. My advice to women is to be brave and persistent as they seek to reach their goals.  


How do you define success?

To me, success isn’t merely defined by a high performing career. Success also means emphasizing faith, friendship, family and community. In the end, we will be successful if we left places and people better than we found them.  


What are you most excited about right now in our community?

People are beginning to look to Macon-Bibb County to see how to begin programs in their own communities. Our school system is making fantastic strides, and our area universities are adding new programs. New businesses are coming to our community and bringing new jobs. Macon continues to serve as a model for downtown revitalization and economic expansion. In healthcare, Navicent Health is bringing new services and specialists to the area through our strategic combination with Atrium Health. It is an exciting time to be in Macon-Bibb County, and Navicent Health is honored to positively impact our community.   


You might be surprised that:

Many people believe healthcare takes place within the four walls of Navicent Health’s hospitals, when in reality, we are doing so much work within the community to keep people well, and avoid hospitalization. Through our Healthy Communities program, we work with local governments and area nonprofits to provide education and resources in community centers, houses of worship and neighborhoods. We also work closely with our school system through our school house nursing program and other programs for students. Programs like these not only allow local residents to achieve a higher quality of life, but also allow us to treat the critically injured and ill within the hospital.  


What is the most gratifying part of your job?

Success, to me, is leaving places and people better than you found them. That is a lesson taken from my parents. I’ve dedicated my career to that cause, and it is gratifying to hear stories of people we have been able to help, and lives we have been able to improve.  


What has been the most challenging part of being a woman in business?

Women are not only valuable contributors to the workforce, but also community leaders and the leaders of their families. It is important to place value on the things that truly matter – family, friends, faith and community – but it is often difficult for a woman to juggle these as well as a strong career. It is often said that for women, there is no resting place. Balancing one’s professional life while being the CEO of the household is no small feat. 


I admire women who:

Are continuously learning, continuously growing and sharing their wisdom with others.  


What was the best business advice you ever received?

Don’t be afraid to seize opportunities. I began my career as a bedside nurse, and when I began moving into the echelons of leadership, I was frequently the only woman at the table. It took courage to speak my mind, to show that I deserved that seat at the table. I am so thankful I seized those initial opportunities, which have led to larger roles and greater impact on healthcare and healthcare consumers.  


I hope more women will:

Be courageous enough to find unique and innovative ways to achieve their dreams and pursue their passions.  


How could women better support each other?

We have a responsibility to one another. Each of us is standing on the shoulders of those who came before, those who took the time to encourage or mentor us. We are all so very busy, but we need to take special time outs to encourage one another, check on one another and say, “How can I come alongside and help you?”  


I wish I had known:

What a glorious feeling it is to be a grandparent. Now that I have two grandchildren, I know it does not get better than this! 


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