Deidra L. Byrd

Deidra L. Byrd
Senior Vice President & Enterprise Chief Employment Counsel

Education: Juris Doctor, DePaul University; BA, psychology, DePaul University
Company Name: Kindred Healthcare
Industry: Health care
Company CEO: Benjamin A. Breier
Company Headquarters Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Number of Employees: 32,000
Words you live by: All you have to do is put your mind to it …. If I need or want to do something, I keep at it until I get it done.
Who is your personal hero? My mother, Margaret Wasp
What book are you reading? Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward by Valerie Jarrett
What was your first job: Cashier, Harold’s Chicken Shack #27; Chicago, Illinois
Favorite charity: Community Counseling Centers of Chicago
Interests: Spending time with my family, traveling, gardening, listening to good music, and dancing
Family: Son, Christopher W. Byrd and daughter, Jada L. Byrd

Everyone Needs a Miss Pat

Mentors have been very important to my career success. When I was a young girl, my parents enrolled me in the Miss Pat School of Dance—a small dancing school owned by a young black woman named Patricia Daley.

The school, located in a small strip mall on the South Side of Chicago, started out small but Miss Pat’s vision, thoughts, and dreams were not. Everything she did was first class and never half-baked. In many ways, our dancing school was like many others. We were taught various dance styles, techniques, and dance routines.

The difference was that in the early 1970s, Miss Pat often sat classes of young girls down and talked to us about what it meant to be a lady and how we should carry ourselves. She told us we were smart, and beautiful, and could be whatever we wanted to be. Many of the lessons she passed on to her students are still with me today.

Miss Pat commanded respect. She was younger than the parents of almost all of the students at her school. While she was respectful of our parents, it was also clear that all of our parents respected her. In fact, we secretly knew that our folks would be okay if we grew up to be just like her.

In keeping with her style and goals, our dance recitals were not held at nearby high school auditoriums like other dance schools in the neighborhood. Miss Pat held our recitals at Orchestra Hall in downtown Chicago. Orchestra Hall seats over 2500. It was then and still is home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

As a young preteen, I was selected to have speaking roles during many of our recitals. Knowing that one of my idols, Miss Pat, selected me gave me the confidence to step out on a stage designed for accomplished musicians and speak with poise and confidence.

During my career, I have been in the room when important decisions are being made, and I have had the task of speaking to thousands. I have never felt like I did not belong, and I have always had the confidence to speak up. I thank Miss Pat for this because of the faith she had in me when I was just a young girl.