Front and Center: Kimberlee DanielsPublished on Wednesday, February 23, 2022By: Andrea Wright Dilworth, firstname.lastname@example.orgEditor's Note: In honor of Black History Month’s 2022 theme, Black Health and Wellness, we want to celebrate the contributions, breakthroughs and cultural richness of Black professionals and students at UMMC. See more Front and Center features.As a teen growing up in Philadelphia, Penn., Kimberlee Daniels volunteered as a candy striper at a local hospital. It was then and there that she developed a passion for the health care industry.“I have always aspired to be a hospital administrator,” she said. “I have a strong belief that I was born to do exactly what I am doing.”What she’s been doing the past five months is serving as chief operations officer for adult hospitals, which includes overseeing the daily operations within the UMMC health system; driving high-quality patient satisfaction, safety and financial success; and aligning strategic goals with the hospital’s mission. In all, Daniels has eight direct reports who manage over 50 functional departments and over 850 employees. As a result, her days are meticulously planned and scheduled to the minute, with back-to-back meetings, tasks, and business operations to oversee.“What I most enjoy about working at UMMC is the collegiality and comradery that is shared amongst the team,” she said. “I believe that this collegial spirit is engendered from the organization’s pride of being the only academic medical center in the state of Mississippi. This indelible spirit of pride is endearing.”Daniels has over 25 years of experience in academic medicine, most recently as interim chief of ambulatory operations at the University of Virginia Medical Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health policy and administration from Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from St. Joseph’s University.Prior to interviewing for her current role, she had never stepped foot in the hospitable Magnolia State.“Not only had I not visited Mississippi before, but I moved here knowing no one,” she said. “During my visits here, it became apparent to me that the Southeastern culture matched well with my personality, and it would not take long for me to develop a support network. I was right. I am acclimating well and am enjoying my time here.” The typical workday of the COO consists of connecting with colleagues in the hospital’s three mission areas to ensure that the clinical operations are sound, and the clinical teams have the ability to optimally and holistically care for patients, she said. “The greatest challenge of the job is remaining agile, resilient, flexible, adaptable, creative and innovative to meet our operational resource needs -- people, capital, etc. -- so that we remain viable to serve our community,” Daniels explained. “The dynamism of the environment in which we work makes it challenging to quickly pivot so that we are successful.” Though Daniels’ resume boasts several leadership roles, she said three were most instrumental in preparing her to serve as COO: service line administrator for surgical services at University of Virginia Medical Center, senior administrator for family and community medicine at University of MarylandFaculty Practices Inc., and administrator for orthopedic surgery at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.In her downtime, Daniels, who lives in Madison, loves to travel internationally. “My goal is to visit all seven continents,” she said. “To date, I have visited several countries in four of the seven continents and hope to resume traveling very soon in order to meet my goal. My favorite continent is Europe.” She is also intentional about her impact on the children in her life.“While I do not have any biological children, I do have nieces, nephews, godchildren and a host of mentees that I cultivate and nurture as if they were my own children. These surrogate relationships are fulfilling.