Women in Business: Krista Langston

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Class of 2024 Women in Business Krista Langston Executive Director of Community Programs Institute of Community Health Innovation University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Springdale

Residence: Fayetteville

Education: B.B.A., MBA, Harding University

Professional background: Over the past three years, Langston has been executive director of community programs at the Institute of Community Health Innovation at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She has led the development of a mobile prenatal care program that is the first of its kind in the United States, and partnered with organizations statewide to expand the integration and awareness of doulas in Arkansas. Under Langston’s leadership, the UAMS Healthy Start program has served nearly 900 women since its inception in 2019, helping women and families experience healthier pregnancies and lives.

What is the best leadership advice you have ever received? Leadership is a privilege. A leader can shape the trajectory of people’s entire careers and lives.

How should women support other women in their organizations? Fail forward together. I work with some of Northwest Arkansas’ most genuine, compassionate and dedicated women. We have succeeded together, and we’ve failed forward together. We disagree, have productive conversations, call each other out when we’ve done wrong (and have food in our teeth), laugh and learn from our mistakes and become stronger because we aren’t afraid to be our authentic selves with each other. Be this type of colleague for women in your organization.

What do you think of the opportunities that exist for women in business compared with when you started? I have been fortunate, as my supervisors have always been strong female leaders. These women have paved the way for so many of us; they have left the doorway of opportunity open for women behind them to succeed. So many possibilities exist now because of those who came before us, and I want to ensure those doors stay open for all to succeed.

What are some of the leadership skills that helped you move up in your organization? The ability to form meaningful and intentional relationships. I’ve always aimed to connect people and ideas to advance our team’s strategic initiatives.

Why do you think companies would benefit from having more women at the top? I think it’s essential to have diverse leadership so that young and future team members can see and imagine themselves in a leadership role. I believe the next generation is going to be better and do better. I want to create a space for them to have better opportunities than I have had.

Who was a big mentor to you in the early part of your career? Pearl McElfish. Pearl has mentored me (and so many others) while allowing us to build a career we love. She has taught us to champion our team during wins, and more importantly, during losses. She has demonstrated that leadership is not a perfectly polished presentation and suit, but leadership is leading by our actions, service and humility. Pearl has created a space for our team to fail and succeed while continually challenging us to learn from both failure and success.

What is the most fulfilling part of your work? The team that allows me the opportunity to lead and learn from them and the community that trusts us to serve with them. I am dedicated to championing the successes of our team and community.

What’s the most recent book you’ve read? “The Women” by Kristin Hannah.

What do you do to relax when not working? Can you relax in a household of boys? Our family enjoys fly fishing and running.

What is something distinctive that people would be surprised to know about you? I’ve never felt prepared or qualified for my position or jobs. Each position has been a leap of faith and the determination to be successful at that specific position. I share this to say you can learn to do hard things.