Kellie Pearson-Carroll’s passionate purpose is a result of her environment.
She watched her mother navigate the healthcare system for support with her brother’s intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia. All people, she said, deserve decent healthcare and respect despite their diagnosis. Pearson-Carroll grew up in a loving community, but she and her friends “knew to come inside” before the glow of the Philadelphia streetlights. And as a black woman without industry connections, Pearson-Carroll worked harder to become a leader in health care.
And she is not done. Pearson-Carroll is the vice president of Human Resources for Meridian Health Services, responsible for the oversight of employee operation for roughly 1,000 employees who serve thousands of patients and families. She is also a doctoral student, working to gain the credentials and expertise needed to become a health care CEO.
A focus on whole health
Before moving to Muncie in 2019, Pearson-Carroll worked for 25 years in Philadelphia to build comprehensive human resources experience in acute care, long term care, and higher education. She could have left the City of Brotherly Love years before, but she stayed to serve as an example in her community and to give back to the city.
“You can’t say that you are for whole health and not understand on a personal level the needs, hopes, and struggles of your community and the communities you serve,” she said. “When I came to Meridian, I could have lived in Noblesville or another outlying, shinier city with more affluence, but I live in Muncie. I am passionate about living in the community I serve. I am passionate about staying connected with the neighbors we serve and the city where they live, work, and play.”
Shafer pushed her to ‘take a look in the mirror’
That passion for service led her in 2022 to join the board of Shafer Leadership Academy, a Muncie-based nonprofit that provides inclusive leadership development so that people, organizations, and communities reach their full potential. She and her staff had benefited from SLA’s trainings and service, so Pearson-Carroll said she wanted to help guide and support this vital community resource.
“I sought out Shafer because many of Meridian’s longtime employees move up through the organizational structure, and they often need additional support to manage the new responsibilities and stresses of leadership,” she said. “You can find plenty of box trainings online, but Shafer adapts each training and workshop we do to our unique industry and workplace culture. It has been personally and professionally transformative for me and my team.”
as leaders we must adapt to our environments
Pearson-Carroll said SLA pushed her to “take a look in the mirror.” A product of the East Coast, Pearson-Carrol said she is direct and quick to make decisive decisions. It’s not wrong or different, but “people in the Midwest are a bit more fuzzy-wuzzy and boy do they love meetings,” she laughed.
“I realized that a lot of how I operate isn’t necessarily an East Coast way, but a Kellie way. I cannot completely change who I am, and I don’t want to, but as leaders we must adapt to our environments,” she said. “The work I have done with Shafer has taught me to pause, think, and better communicate with my team has been invaluable.”
Pearson-Carroll said Shafer’s professional development has also pushed her team to communicate differently with her and reflect on their own leadership and communication styles. Constant reflection, she said, is important, particularly in the health care and human resources fields, where you are working with many different personalities and circumstances, which are often emotionally charged.
“I take my job extremely seriously,” she said. “It’s a tremendous responsibility to manage and support the people who manage and support our patients and families. If someone is unhappy or not fully prepared, then that unhappiness trickles down. This is something that we cannot allow because, people’s lives and wellbeing are at stake.”
‘To understand people, you must sit with them’
Pearson-Carroll is equally passionate about her community service. In addition to her work with Shafer, she volunteers and gives to other nonprofits and organizations in town, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Muncie.
nothing can replace the impact I make on the people I serve.
“I cannot sleep unless I serve,” she said. “And I don’t want to just write a check. Sure, that’s great, but it’s more effective to write a check and to serve. I believe in that full, wholistic process. To understand someone, you need to sit with them.”
That focus on presence drives her personal life as a minister. For the past 20 years, she has served as an associate minister for Faith Canaan Baptist Church in Philadelphia, and she continues to guide and minister individuals and families from afar. Pearson-Carroll now attends Church of the Living God in Muncie IN and seeks opportunities to minister to individuals locally.
“Ministry and service are a huge part of my life,” she said. “When it’s all said and done, someone will replace me in my job, but nothing can replace the impact I make on the people I serve.”
Meridian Health Services is a Shafer Leadership Academy member. Learn more at www.meridianhs.org