Trustee Spotlight: Marjorie McColl Petty

Parkland Health, Dallas


Hometown: Midland, Texas.

Occupation: Retired; Formerly Region VI Director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Family: Married to John D. Jackson, a Dallas Attorney. Five grown children and five precious grandchildren six years old and under.

Hobbies: Following Horned Frog football with husband Exploring dinosaur digs with grandkids. Joining high school friends for hiking and river rafting, reading history, biographies, and stories of our times. Genealogy to better understand my families’ history and choices.

As a Board Member

Most Rewarding: The opportunity to partner with expert and dedicated staff and to work alongside a talented, experienced Board of Managers team that is truly committed to the mission and service of Parkland Health to its community.

Most Challenging: Navigating the ever-changing landscape of the health care terrain and appropriately strategizing for the present and future.

Biggest Surprise: I have always loved my life’s work, but I had not dreamed that the mission of Parkland Health would be so clearly aligned with each step of my professional development. The opportunity to contribute to Parkland Health was a miraculous match. Parkland’s work is “people work.” Full of belief in public service to the end that wellness is advanced, suffering is reduced, and there is education and development to the fullest extent.

Proudest Moment for You/Your Board: Experiencing the incredible strength and tenacity of the entire Parkland team. Watching the facilities team standup, the ‘Parkland Hotel’ with 500 beds to support staff in their presence for the 7AM shift during the ice storm and unnavigable streets. Parkland is a remarkable environment.

Valuable Lesson: At each monthly meeting and the presentation of our Finance staff, I am reminded that nothing is static. Parkland Health, like its constituency, is a dynamic, compassionate entity that requires focused attention, flexible response, and forward thinking.

Your Board’s Priorities for 2022-2023:

  • The BOM will strengthen current board infrastructure through examination of and execution of best practices.
  • Build participation and Trustee development through training, tenure planning and team opportunities.
  • The actions of individual members will exhibit an understanding of the policy role and authority of the Board as a whole in development of strategy and planning.

Why Become a Certified Healthcare Trustee: I welcome the opportunity to learn and be exposed to state of the art information on the evolution so that I can bring new learning to the challenges. In the process, the engagement of all board members maximizes our informed team strategy.

About Me

My Background: I grew up in Midland a middle child with three siblings. My mom was a bright, compassionate stay-at-home mom and my father was a geologist who played Scrooge in the annual A Christmas Carol at the Midland Community Theater.

My first health-related work was in Chicago with the March of Dimes. I was invited to train neighborhood workers in maternal and child health. I worked with Dr. Effie Ellis, the first African American leader in the American Medical Association to present a Genetic Counseling Conference. Dr. Ellis encouraged me “to do more.” I lead counseling sessions for women who were on Parole and Diversion, who were victims of Domestic Violence While serving as a Senator in Kansas I was asked to mentor three women on welfare who were to speak to our Senate Judiciary Committee. My role was to support them in recognizing that they were the experts in their experience, and that they would be the teachers.

Childhood Ambition: While I do not recall defining a profession at an early age, I was inspired by many who contributed to our country’s history. At eight years old I was reading the biographies of Lucretia Mott, Jane Adam and Susan B. Anthony, advocates for the rights of all people. At 17, I wrote a paper on Brown V. Topeka Board of Education after researching Thurgood Marshall, and then came full circle, completing a J.D. at Washburn University in Topeka, KS., the institution that had educated the lawyers who first filed the case. The Monroe School was in my Senate district and I personally knew Linda Brown. Topeka High School, which embodied the architecture of an Anglican Cathedral and where my children attended, was within walking distance of the Brown V Board National Park site.

I am very grateful that from a young age to have had doors open up for me and through the support and exposure to others, had the education and the courage to walk through those doors.

My Favorite Person (living or not): My mom was one of my favorite people and a great model for me. She grew up in Chicago in an economically challenged time and a diverse setting. I appreciate the example she set of being respectful of others to her core. She had always wanted to be a nurse, so after rearing four children and at 60 years of age, she went back to school and ended her career at Midland Memorial Hospital at 75 years old.

What Are You Reading? I usually have more than one book ‘going.’ The most recent one started is Lone Star Law, A Legal History of Texas by Michael Ariens and the ‘just finished’ is The Trustee Handbook for Health Care Governance by Jamie Orlikoff and Mary Totten. In my bedside stack are Sisters in Law about O’Connor and Ginsburg by Linda Hirshman, Truth Worth Telling by Scott Pelley, a Texan, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, and The Highland Clans by Alistair Moffat, as a genealogy resource. And of course, The Topeka School by Ben Lerner, and I believe a Pulitzer Prize nominee.

Best City in Texas: Dallas