Debra Plousha Moore heads human resources at the largest employer in the Charlotte region, Carolinas HealthCare System. But her career began as a kindergarten teacher.
She got that job when her husband was stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, and her oldest son, Chip, then 5,oasted at school that his mom had a college degree and was the best teacher in the world. The principal asked her to come in to discuss a position and the pay.
When Plousha Moore said she would do the job for free, the principal left her with a lesson that stuck with her: “Don’t ever say that again. If you work, know your value and get paid.”
It’s a lesson that Plousha Moore, 62, has worked to instill in younger professionals, too. As the health care system’s chief human resources officer and executive vice president, she oversees all facets of HR, including recruitment, compensation, benefits, workforce relations and diversity.
On Wednesday, she won the award for Queens University of Charlotte’s 2015 BusinessWoman of the Year. In her acceptance speech at a Queens luncheon, Plousha Moore emphasized her focus on inclusion.
“I do believe diverse teams are harder,” Plousha Moore said. “But the outcomes are incredible every single time. Take the chance, take the risk.”
Plousha Moore is the 31st recipient of the award, which recognizes leaders who show “competence, character and commitment to the community.” Last year’s winner was Premier Chief Executive Officer Susan DeVore,.
Plousha Moore, who is African American, said when she was hired on at CHS just over eight years ago, the board had fought for more diversity.
She credits Ed Brown, the chair of the board of commissioners, and Michael Tarwater, CHS’ chief executive officer, with practicing “intentional inclusion,” and making sure she could be successful.
Diversity “allows us to better serve our patients, better serve the communities and to keep our promise to be an organization that accepts all people who need health care assistance,” Plousha Moore said.
A San Francisco native who has lived all over the country, Plousha Moore says Charlotte now feels like home.
“Charlotte has provided me the opportunity to give back and contribute through board work. It’s also stretched me to do things I may not have been comfortable with, but Charlotte saw capacity,” she said.
CHS is the largest healthcare system in the Carolinas and the third largest public system in the nation, employing over 60,000 people company wide. Last year it made Forbes Magazine’s list of America’s Best Employers.
Before joining CHS in 2008, Plousha Moore was senior vice president of human resources and organizational development for OhioHealth. She’s also held executive leadership positions in HR at Genesys Health System in Grand Blanc, Mich., and at Franciscan Health System of the Ohio Valley.
Before her foray into healthcare, Plousha Moore served as the associate dean of students at the University of Dayton, where she received a master’s degree in counseling and human services.