When Toni Ardabell was a child, she wanted to be a nun. “I was 4 and I loved the outfits they wore. I wasn’t Catholic, but man those outfits,” she says. Around the same time, she took a bunch of older neighborhood kids to the playground without permission and got in a heap of trouble, but one good thing came of it. “My dad said after that, ‘You’re meant to be a leader. Don’t depend on a man to take care of you. Go to college, take care of yourself.’” She says that was enough to convince her that leadership was in her future and many of the adults in her life reinforced it. Ardabell went on to be the first college graduate on either side of her family.
Since 2009, Ardabell has served as chief executive of Bon Secours Richmond Health System, where she is responsible for all Central Virginia operations except the Medical Group and HealthSource. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree in nursing from Catholic University of America and her master’s degree in business administration from Marymount University. Thereafter, the Pennsylvania native served in a variety of leadership roles in the health-care field and became chief operating officer for Inova Fairfax Hospital. Right before her move to Bon Secours she was vice president at Inova Health System’s 2015 capital improvement program. She originally turned down several management roles thinking she wanted to be a nurse practitioner, but eventually knew it was her calling to be a chief executive, which lead to her current role. “Bon Secours has brought the whole mission and ministry focus, which has been really important to me. It’s been wonderful,” she says.
She is also actively involved in the community. Ardabell serves in numerous leadership positions, including the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association board, its executive committee and regional policy board, the Penn State University’s dean’s advisory board and Venture Richmond. She is also chairwoman of the American Heart Association’s Richmond board of directors and is a member of the American Heart Association’s Mid-Atlantic affiliate board. Ardabell also serves on the Bon Secours Joint Hospitals board and the Bon Secours Foundation board. Additionally, she’s dedicated to building awareness around victims of human trafficking.
Ardabell credits her success to several things, among them a solid no-one-person-makes-everything-happen leadership philosophy and making time for family and self. The mother of two grown sons, a cherished granddaughter, and about 20 nieces and nephews. she says only you can make a schedule work for you. “It’s absolutely achievable,” Ardabell says. She works with her secretary each week to balance career and life commitments. “I make sure I see family and get my weekly massage,” she says, laughing.