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2010 Most Influential Women Honoree: Charity Elmer

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Many of the employees at CoxHealth are engaged in caring for patients, but Charity Elmer’s job is to take care of the health system’s legal needs.

Elmer, who was hired in 2004 as CoxHealth’s first in-house counsel, now leads a seven-member team that is responsible for all legal, risk and insurance issues.

“My role as general counsel is to ensure that I secure the best resources and information for CoxHealth possible so I can give advice to the board, which will allow it to make informed decisions,” she says.

Her team comprises a risk manager, a paralegal, a workers’ compensation manager, two support staff and three other attorneys.

“My leadership style is to set clear expectations and then let my staff do their jobs,” she says. “I do not micromanage.”
It’s a style that must work well.

“I think my staff appreciate the freedom I give them to do their jobs,” she says. “All of the employees hired since I started are still here. I hire good people and have confidence in them.”

During her tenure, Elmer has had several opportunities to put her department’s skills to the test, including a federal government investigation resolved in 2008, and a radiation issue earlier this year.

“I believe I have earned the respect of the board as well as CoxHealth senior leaders based upon my leadership and handling of these tough issues, as well as many others,” Elmer says.

Beyond balancing work and family, Elmer also makes time for community involvement.
She has served on the Make-A-Wish board for the past three years, and she says working with the organization, which grants wishes for children with life-threatening conditions, is both rewarding and humbling.

Elmer also is a member of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association’s board of directors and is chairwoman of SMBA’s committee for attorneys who, like Elmer, work as in-house counsel for their employers.

“This is a good way to network and stay connected, because once you go in-house, you tend to become isolated from the ‘outside attorneys,’” she says.

Elmer earned a bachelor’s degree from Drury University in May 1994 and her law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1998. She’s a member of The Missouri Bar, American Bar Association and American Health Lawyers Association. In 2007, she was named one of Springfield Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 honorees, and that same year, she was named one of the 35 Up and Coming Lawyers in Missouri by Missouri Lawyers Weekly.

She also is a 2010 Rising Star in Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s 12th Annual Women’s Justice Awards. The Rising Star recognizes women younger than 40 who have made a difference in the legal field or who are on a path toward greater achievement.

“My hope is that I have positively influenced other female attorneys in the community as well as other in-house attorneys,” she says. “Because CoxHealth is such a large organization, (during) the past six years, I’ve seen just about every type of legal issue and encountered every kind of contract. I’m always happy to help other in-house attorneys, male and female, with issues they may be facing.”[[In-content Ad]]


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