Jena Abernathy, Executive and Mentor

A Junkyard Dog Who Climbed Fast and Early


Jena Abernathy is a nationally recognized leader in human capital management, succession planning, governance, performance excellence, and organizational development. She is a passionate advocate for women and minorities in executive and governing board roles. Known for her innovative spirit, seasoned judgment, and broad knowledge, she has written for and been featured in a wide variety of media, including CNN, the Financial Times, CBS Money Watch, FOX Business, The Leader Board,, Investor’s Business Daily, Shape, Trustee, and the Miami Herald, among other prominent business, financial, and healthcare publications.

A sought-after speaker, she inspires and motivates individuals with her expertise, “tough-love” approach, and Southern flair sprinkled with real-life examples and lessons. Her book The Inequality Equalizer: Want It, Claim It, Own It—and Maximize Your Career Success speaks to professionals, whether entry level, mid-careerist or senior executives, seeking to advance to the next platform on their career journey.

Fast-tracked early in her career, she served for more than 20 years in senior executive leadership positions with such companies as General Medical, McKesson, Fisher Scientific, and Premier, Inc. She served as executive lead for Premier’s successful Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

An executive search expert, Jena is a managing partner/chair of Board Services, senior partner in Healthcare/Life Sciences. She coaches candidates and assists clients in identifying board members, CEOs, and other C-suite leaders for hospitals, health systems, foundations, and academic medical centers, as well as private equity, manufacturing, distribution, and healthcare corporations. She serves on the board of directors of Witt/Kieffer and is a member of Access Circles, a leading business network for women. She has served on the board of directors for The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and on the advisory board for MedShare.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Jena divides her time between the Tampa Bay area of Florida and North Carolina, though chances are she’s jetting across the sky at 33,000 feet.

“Be yourself at work—so long as you’re being your best self. Balance your inner junkyard dog and your inner pedigree so that you can be both scrappy and savvy as well as poised and polished. Level the playing field by playing up the best parts of you.”

Who Is Jena Abernathy?