Joni Muchler

"Find Your Why"

MHA Alumni Spotlight: Joni Muchler

Interview Conducted by Micayla Zeger

How do you feel your childhood shaped your leadership style, if at all?
I think it shaped far more than my leadership style. I was an underdog, raised by a single mom and adopted by my grandmother at a young age. This is a lot of the ‘why’ behind what I do and who I am. I had a strong overcomer mindset. I had to prove myself. This developed determination, drive, and motivation within me.
Quitting isn’t an option for me. I think my childhood shaped me as a leader, a mother, a wife, and a person. I’m a motivator and an overall positive person. I believe that no matter what, you can overcome.

What was your first management position?
I was finishing my masters and accepted a position at the Louisville Metro Government. I worked as a community health coordinator and supervisor for childhood life development. It was a learning experience. I worked with the budget, ordering supplies, and running the daily business. I’ve been able to carry much of this into my current job. That experience also provided opportunities for cultural diversity and awareness. Louisville had a large refugee population and many different religions. This created challenges in trying to teach changes in health that in a different culture may be normal or acceptable. This position was a big stepping stone for me and taught me that change is part of our society.

What was an early leadership lesson for you?
The office manager at the doctor’s office I first worked in is to this day one of my strongest mentors; my cheerleader, role model, and a motherly figure. She taught me everything I learned at the beginning. She showed me the importance of being willing to do what you ask others to do. Even if she had piles of paperwork to go through, she didn’t hesitate to grab a stethoscope and jump into an exam room to help out. Management and leadership are different. I also learned the importance of working as a team with trust, honesty, being personable, and the importance of working towards a common goal.

What matters to you, how do you hire, and what do you believe is the most important skill a person can have?
I feel these questions all tie together. Honesty, integrity, and respect all matter to me. When I hire, I will choose character over skill. It may not work 100% of the time, but I’ve found you can teach skill far more than character. I practice an open-door policy and hold transparency with those I hire. This allows them to ask questions.
No matter the job level, character always matters. I’ve hired people before who checked off all the boxes in skills I needed, but they ended up in my office a lot because of character quality. As a result, I think the most important skill a person can have would be being teachable.

What advice would you give a current MHA student?
You need to love what you do. You have to be passionate. If you don’t have passion, it’s just a job. Whatever you do, healthcare or not, take what you’ve learned, apply it, and live it. Learn to lead, then lead by example and be consistent. You have to lead not manage and remember there is a difference. Make sure you’re being pushed for the right reasons. Don’t get caught up in moving higher up, that’s not the most important thing in life. What are you working towards and why? Find your why, be passionate about it, and stay consistent.

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Dr. Kevin Valadares
Program Chair

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