As President and CEO of the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce, and now Chair of the HCM Board of Trustees, Penny McBride knows how challenging it can be to balance a busy lifestyle with proper heart health.

“As a woman, I feel it is important for us to talk about this issue,” McBride said. “The symptoms women typically experience are not the same as the classic symptoms that we’ve been taught. So heart disease can go undiagnosed.”

As women tend to be the caregiver in their family, there is another issue that applies to caregivers.

“Women are lousy about going in and staying on top of their own health. We put others first, so it is easy to overlook heart issues for a woman.”

In her work with business leaders, McBride sees a need that businesses can address.

“In this market we have a labor shortage,” she noted. “It is important for employers to encourage team members to stay on top of their health, whether heart health or other health related issues. If we want to retain workers and keep them healthy, we need to encourage them to take care of themselves.”

McBride has served on the HCM Board of Trustees for six years. During that time, she has been able to see the important role that HCM plays in all areas of the community. This community engagement is what inspires McBride to volunteer her time with HCM.

“It is unique with the size community we have that we can still have this very personal relationship, in that we can encourage people to take care of their health in meaningful ways, through education, outreach, and free or low-cost screenings.”

She credits the success of these initiatives to a “sensibility about affordability.”

“We appreciate that when you reduce the cost, people are more likely to get checked. So they can be on top of potential health issues before they become serious.”

For her personal well-being, McBride takes advantage of the programs, classes, and equipment at the HCM Wellness Center. Those are steps available to anyone.

“All of us–men and women–have to take responsibility for our own health. Women in particular can’t take care of the people in our lives if we are not taking care of ourselves. That is not selfish–it is the baseline for being able to be a nurturer of others.”

Penny McBride is the President and CEO of the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the HCM Board of Trustees. She also serves as a volunteer at HCM and for the HCM Gala.