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Merrill talks Halsey award, leadership

🕐 3 min read

Rick Merrill, president and CEO of Cook Children’s Health Care System, was presented the second annual Susan Halsey Executive Leadership Award on Thursday, June 1 at Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce’s 135th Annual Meeting.

The Fort Worth Business Press asked Merrill about the award, which is named after the late Susan Hasley. It is given to those in a top leadership position at their company, such as presidents, principals or CEOs, who aim to and succeed at strengthen the company or organization they lead. Merrill responded via e-mail.

FWBP: What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Susan Halsey Executive Leadership Award?

Rick Merrill: Leading a group of dedicated pediatric professionals is one of the most satisfying aspects of my job. Their main purpose mirrors my own; to make our community the best place in this country to raise a child. Receiving this award is simply a reflection of their hard work, passion, and investment in the children of Fort Worth. I’m pleased to accept this award on their behalf.

FWBP: One of the factors of being chosen for this award is creating a vision and inspiring others. What is your vision and how you do you work to inspire those around you?

Merrill: As an organization, we’ve made a very clear promise to improve the health of every child in our area through the prevention and treatment of illness, disease and injury. We’re committed to making our community stronger and moving the needle on children’s health. It’s a vision that our employees not only embrace but are passionate about fulfilling.

Beyond that, it’s so important to lead through engagement. While it’s not feasible to meet with everyone, I personally try to interact with and listen to staff across our organization. When employees know that they have a voice, receive the resources they need, recognize how they fit into the big picture and understand where our organization is heading, you’ve got the necessary elements in place to be successful – together.

FWBP: I see that you have done work as a mentor and in giving back to the community. What advice or encouragement do you have for other executive leaders in the Fort Worth business community?

Merrill: The most invaluable piece of advice I could give to executive leaders is to be willing to talk to others inside and outside your organization at all levels. Those conversations about advancing your business will naturally unearth opportunities, seed innovation and create an environment of collaboration. Investing the time in your employees, peers, colleagues and community partners underscores your commitment and is essential to the success of all involved.

FWBP: Do you have any other comments about the award or the work you are doing with the Cook Children’s Health Care System?

Merrill: It’s deeply meaningful to work in pediatric healthcare. What an incredible privilege it is to come to work every day knowing that you have the opportunity to profoundly impact children’s lives and the health of our community. It’s truly been an honor to lead and work alongside a great group of physicians, nurses and staff who provide high quality care for our patients and their families. It’s truly gratifying that others recognize the life-changing work that our employees do every day at Cook Children’s.

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