Jennifer Grove, Vice President of External Relations at Baptist Health Care
By Natalie Frank
Jennifer Grove, Vice President of External Relations
Life is full of risks. Every decision you make and every action you take has an underlying risk. Many people are afraid to take risks, and with good reason. There is always a 50-50 percent chance that the risk you take will not pay off. But when that risk does pay off, the rewards can be abundant.
Jennifer Grove took a pretty big risk when she accepted her current position as Vice President of External Relations at Baptist Health Care.
“I had an opportunity to work at this organization [Baptist Health Care] that is so community focused and vetted in the past and future of this community that I love,” Grove said.
Grove joined Baptist Health Care in January of 2019. Previously, she was employed at Gulf Power Company and before that the Southern Company in Atlanta, Ga. For 25 years, Grove worked in the energy sector. She made a huge change by leaving the energy sector and going to the health care sector.
“I have such a steep learning curve, and every day we enter new things,” Grove said.
Grove is originally from Bangor, Maine. In junior high, she moved to Mississippi then moved again to Pensacola during high school.
“I am at home in the South,” Grove explained. “The people particularly are so outgoing and friendly.”
Grove quickly fell in love with the area, and although she moved away for college and the start of her career, it was not long before she made her way back to the South.
“Even though I went to grad school and worked in Chicago for a while, I found a way to get myself to Atlanta, and then in Atlanta when I started to have my children I knew of every place I’d ever lived, I wanted to get right back here to northwest Florida.”
Grove has been in Pensacola for almost three decades now, but she is a relative newcomer to Baptist Health Care. Grove’s position at Baptist Health Care is new to the almost 70-year-old organization. Mark Faulkner, president of Baptist Health Care, created the Vice President of External Relations position last January after careful thought and consideration of the company’s future and position in the community.
Grove’s passion for community and her desire to utilize her talents to help others ultimately played a role in her huge career leap. For the past 25 years, Grove had been working in the energy sector. She took a risk by switching careers and starting in a brand new position at Baptist Health Care.
Some years back, Grove was given a piece of advice from a female colleague that really resonated with her, especially when it came time to take a big career risk.
“When you get that feeling in your stomach that tells you you’re scared, sit in it for a minute, because fear and excitement feel the same way in your belly,” Grove said.
West Florida High School of Advanced Technology
When Faulkner approached Grove with the new job opportunity, Grove was scared. She would be leaving a company that she had been with for decades. A company where both her sister and husband worked. She would be leaving the familiar for the unknown.
“Those words made me think about my future and what I did want to achieve in the final parts of my career.”
Grove’s love of the community and her passion to help others ultimately swayed her to accept the new position.
“I wanted to give back in a meaningful way and provide my service and value to this community,” Grove said. It was not a decision she came upon lightly, but when she really thought about it, she felt that fear melt away to excitement, and she knew she wanted the job.
“Certainly we have to evaluate all angles of a decision, but once we make a decision, and we decide to walk through that fear toward that excitement, I think that’s when we really get that opportunity to personally grow,” Grove said.
As VP of External Relations, Grove is responsible for aligning and building Baptist Health Care’s brand and engagement externally with stakeholders. On any given day, Grove is involved with marketing and communications, government relations, the Baptist Health Care Foundation, community impact work, and much more.
"There is no typical day because every day is different!”
Her days are even more different now in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, we saw the onset of COVID-19, a national pandemic that has irrefutably affected those working in healthcare, hospitality and essentially all areas of the national workforce.
“Pre-COVID, there were lots of meetings in the community,” Grove explained. She would normally meet with numerous organizations and interact with various community leaders and partners. COVID has not stopped her work, it has merely changed the way it happens.
“Now my days are full of Zooms,” Grove said. Grove, like many working Americans, has had to navigate the virtual world of meetings by utilizing video conference applications such as Zoom.
YMCA Trick or Treat Event
Junior League of Pensacola Women's Empowerment Award
“It’s hard because so much of my work is collaborative and engaged with other sectors...we’re all, I think, adjusting to this new normal of how we engage and collaborate,” Grove said.
Despite navigating a national pandemic and adjusting to work in a new sector, Grove’s work in the community has further solidified something that she has known for a very long time.
“This community does real collaboration.” Grove has first-hand experience and knowledge of organizations working together to put the needs of the community first.
“There is a whole wealth of organizations, from small nonprofits to individuals that are just as committed in this area to organizations the size and scale of Lakeview and Baptist, who truly collaborate for the benefit of the community and the residents of this community.”
Grove says that the most rewarding part of her job is bringing together diferent sectors to align resources and to achieve common goals.
“I think it is through that true collaboration or through that collective impact that we can bring about sustainable change that can last for generations here.”
The positive outcomes and the changes that Grove and other community partners bring about are rewarding of course, but there are stresses that come with the job. How does Grove manage that stress?
“I really try to remind myself that this is not about me,” she said. “It’s about the work. It’s about improving the quality of life in some way for somebody else.”
Grove appreciates the collaboration and the strong network of community leaders, partners and individuals that is present in the Pensacola community. She also appreciates the collaboration that comes from a network of people. The advice that Grove received from the strong women in her life truly inspired her to take a risk that ultimately paid off. Grove also has words of wisdom of her own that she is eager to share.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t let anyone set unrealistic expectations for yourself and worse yet, don’t set those expectations for yourself,” Grove said.
Women are oftentimes confronted with the “work life balance” conundrum. Work-life balance is the state of equilibrium in which aspects of personal life, professional life and family life are equal. Grove believes that this focus is an unhealthy mindset, especially for women.
“It puts so much unnecessary pressure on us, because I think we think that it means that at all times we should be seeking that balance, but in reality, there will be times in our lives and in our careers where we need to lean into work a little bit more...and that means we’re going to be a little lighter in our energy and time on our family.”
The same goes for times when you may have to be more present at home and lighter at work. Grove also recommends not creating two different versions of yourself for your personal life and your work life.
“Be one complete person. Bring all that you are, your heart, mind and soul, to everything you do.”
Bras Across The Bridge
Grove encourages women to be authentic. Ask for help if you need it. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable or unwilling to learn. It is vulnerability, authenticity, and a willingness to learn that will ultimately bring you strength.