Daphne Walker, Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Counsel, was inspired to pursue a career in healthcare because of her mother. Her mother was a registered nurse in their small hometown, and Walker would frequently meet her mother’s patients who talked about the difference she made in their lives. Seeing her mother's impact on many encouraged her.
While nursing was the career Walker chose, she always thought she'd go to law school. As a nurse, she was promoted into healthcare administration roles and became more connected to the legal issues that impacted her hospital. Revisiting the law space regenerated her passion for it.
“Interacting with the other legal professionals that touched the hospitals I worked in and finding out more inspired me," Walker said. “In particular, there was one nurse attorney I had talked to about being a nurse paralegal, so doing both, and she encouraged me to go to law school and get the degree.”
Following her dream, Walker graduated from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. As she went through law school, she continued to work as an RN. Upon graduating college, she began working in healthcare law, which will ultimately lead her to JPS Health Network.
“After graduating from law school, I started my career in healthcare law at a law firm,” Walker said. “That role then parlayed into an in-house opportunity with a large publicly traded healthcare corporation. I was working for one of the subsidiaries of that company when JPS reached out and said that they were looking to move their legal services in-house. I started learning more about the organization and the opportunity. I was excited to have the chance to build a law department for a safety net hospital whose mission was near and dear to my heart.”
Walker is the first to hold the new in-house chief legal counsel position at JPS, which is an inspiration for many women. She feels she has a responsibility to mentor other women going into leadership.
"I want to set a good example for those interested in moving into leadership and continue to identify those barriers for women that may prevent them from moving into leadership roles," Walker said.
Being a woman in leadership is no easy feat, but hard work and dedication in a profession you love can go a long way. Walker advises women to stay informed and encouraged when seeking a position in leadership.
“Seek out resources to ensure you can get that advice along the way. Don't just isolate yourself,” Walker said. “Don't think that a particular challenge is the end of the story. Find out what others have done. They can help you navigate things that you might not have navigated before. Take advantage of non-paid opportunities, or even opportunities to sit in somebody's office, and hear more about the profession.”