Monarch President and CEO Dr. Peggy Terhune Celebrates 25 Years at Monarch
In June of 1995, President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Peggy Terhune walked into Monarch for the first time. This month, she celebrates her 25th anniversary and is grateful for so many who have helped shape her career. Read her reflections on a career of service, what compassionate care means to her and what the future might hold.
What drew you to Monarch 25 years ago?
At the time, we had moved to Matthews where I’d taken a job as the rehabilitation director for a nursing home. I realized pretty quickly that the organization’s philosophy of care didn’t match mine and I knew I’d made a mistake. We had just joined a new church and I went on a retreat that changed my life. During it, as I was taking a beautiful walk alone outside, I realized that God wanted me somewhere else. When I got home, I updated my resume and sent it anywhere I was qualified to work with an occupational therapy degree and a Master of Business Administration. In 1995, I was invited to interview with Monarch (then Arc Services), and the rest is history. The board members and families I met as I interviewed showed me that Monarch was a truly caring place. To that point, I’d worked for a variety of organizations and for people who either seemed to understand the organization’s mission, but did not know how to run a business, or the opposite. I wanted to do things differently and this was my first job as an executive director, and I was so excited for the opportunity to do things right!
What is your proudest Monarch moment?
That’s really hard! There have been so many proud moments. I am proud of our growth, but more proud of the reasons behind it – that we are providing support to people who need us. Honestly, the things that mean the most to me are the phone calls or notes from families telling me they never had the support they needed until they found Monarch. It is extraordinary to know that we are impacting lives every day. I’m also so proud of our staff. They are a remarkable group of people and I am inspired by the stories of why they love working for Monarch and what motivates them every day. I’m also proud that they email me when frustrated, and I can often solve whatever challenge they’ve had. It often changes how we do things, and I love that staff have that input!
What has surprised you the most over the last 25 years?
We work in an industry where there is always something new or that we’ve not seen before on the horizon. Every single day is different. And just when I think we have seen it all, something will arise for a person we support or an operational issue will present itself and I am surprised all over again.
Who influenced you in your career?
So many people! I think about the people we support, like Wendall Curlee, a gentleman we supported who went with me years ago to West Stanly High School to talk with students about what it was like to live with a cognitive disability. I was so moved as he shared his story of being told he had to leave school after the eighth grade because he couldn’t keep up, and that the students he was talking to should realize how lucky they were to be able to go to school.
I’m reminded of many board members over the years who supported me when things were challenging and extended me grace when it was needed. There were people like Mel Diamond, a human resources director at another company, who reminded me to always put people first, and Martha Wolf, my supervisor early in my career, who taught me to laugh at myself and not take things to seriously.
I’m grateful to my mother, who showed me that love was always the most important thing, and to my father, who almost by accident introduced me to what would become my life’s work. And, I’m thankful that God led me to doing that work at Monarch.
Where would you like to see Monarch in another 25 years?
In 25 years, I hope that Monarch will still be led by a person who truly listens to people and families. I hope Monarch will continue to provide services through state-of-the-art, evidence-based practices that put people first. I envision we will continue to be connected to many other community agencies, hospitals, and providers in a true, whole-person health care system that shares information to provide better services. And I hope we will continue to grow, serving people in multiple states and through new and innovative services we can’t even imagine today.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their career today?
Remember always, that people are good, but they often miss how wonderful people with a disability or mental illness are because of the stigma that remains. Always look for ways to remove that stigma. I’d also tell them it is important to stand your ground when you know you are right, even if others think you are wrong. Stay true to your values and remain honest, ethical, and transparent. Always put people above policies and make them a priority. Listen to people. Everyone has something to teach us. Be trustworthy. Accept feedback and let it help make you a better person.
Peggy would love to hear from you! Take a moment and send your 25th anniversary good wishes to firstname.lastname@example.org.