Jena Abernathy, Executive and Mentor

A Junkyard Dog Who Climbed Fast and Early


Jena Abernathy was fast-tracked very early in her career and has over 25 years of senior-level executive management experience. Her entrepreneurial and creative spirit — along with seasoned judgment — helped her achieve success in a variety of executive roles in various settings including finance, manufacturing, and distribution. Today she is a nationally recognized leader in human capital management, performance excellence and organizational development, and a passionate advocate for mentoring women and minorities in executive and governing board roles.

As a young executive, Jena served as vice president, human resources and administration for a publicly-traded financial institution. She was instrumental in leading the company’s reorganization, resulting in a financial turnaround impacting shareholder value. Later at General Medical Corporation, Jena held a seat on the supply company’s Executive Operating Board, leading a total reorganization and spearheading quality and customer service initiatives.

Jena subsequently held senior-level positions at Fisher Scientific International, a manufacturer and distributor of laboratory supplies and services, and Premier, Inc., a national alliance of 2,300 hospitals and health systems. As Chief Administrative Officer, Jena led comprehensive human resources and administrative services, including communications, public relations, and marketing. In addition, Jena served as executive lead when Premier received the 2006 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

As of January 2021, Jena joined Korn Ferry as a Senior Client Partner and Sector Leader, Healthcare Board Services in the firm’s Healthcare practice. Previously, she was serving at a global search and advisory firm where she was a consultant in the firm’s CEO, Board, and Healthcare Services practices. Prior to this, Abernathy served as managing partner of the board services practice for a national executive search firm. She has led COO, CFO, CMO and CHRO searches for hospitals, health systems, behavioral health centers, academic medical centers, foundations, and private equity clients.

She is a noted leadership expert, author, and frequent speaker, and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Becker’s Hospital Review, CBS MoneyWatch,, Fortune, Trustee Magazine, and many other leading media outlets, as well as featured in Warren Bennis’ Leadership Excellence Magazine.

She is a former member of AccessCircles, a leading business network for women, and has served on the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Board, the Advisory Board for MedShare, and other not-for-profit organizations. She is currently serving on the Parkinsons Foundation Board. Jena is the author of The Inequality Equalizer: Want It, Claim It, Own It – and Maximize Your Career Success, published in June 2016 by Ankerwycke/American Bar Association.

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

“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?