CEO, University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville
In March 2020, Wendy Horton arrived at the University of Virginia Medical Center to start her new job as chief operating officer at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seven months later, she became the teaching hospital’s CEO.
At 43, she oversees a medical center with approximately 700 beds and 9,000 employees. She credits her authenticity, courage and leadership with helping her land the job, after having held executive positions at Ohio State and the University of Wisconsin’s health systems.
“I rolled up my sleeves and got in the trenches with everyone,” she says. “I deeply care, I always stay true to my principles, and people know they can count on me to do the right thing.”
Horton solves the organization’s largest challenges, and she isn’t afraid to remove barriers that hold underrepresented groups back.
“I am making sure that we’re promoting people based on their talents and their potential,” she says. “I’m often encouraging women to be courageous and take that leap even before they feel like they’re 100% ready, because they really are ready.”
Horton found her passion while participating in a high school exchange program in Australia. While there, her school assigned her to work at a pharmacy. That experience set her on her career path. She worked as a pharmacist before shifting into hospital administration.
“I just love the mission of health care,” she says. “Making a meaningful difference for our patients, our team members and our community gets me up each and every day.”