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A painter, cook and cancer-fighting champion – meet Wendy Short Bartie

She dreamed of becoming a mayor. Instead, she found a new passion and grew to lead a different kind of community

August 4, 2020

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As a child, Wendy Short Bartie dreamed of becoming a mayor. Instead, she found a new passion and grew to lead a different kind of community: cancer-fighting champion.

“Every day, I’m reminded that the work we do in oncology has a profound impact on the lives of people like my family. My mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor, and my dad passed away 10 years ago from prostate cancer.”

Wendy is an associate vice president who leads the commercial genitourinary program, which focuses on renal, prostate and bladder cancers. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 20 years, but her career began in a courtroom.

From the courtroom to cancer care 

While walking down a grocery store aisle in 1993, Wendy heard an announcement that stopped her in her tracks. Thurgood Marshall had died. “He was the first African-American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. When I heard the news, I thought, ‘What can I do? How can I do some good?’ That’s when I decided to become a lawyer.”

She worked as a bartender to pay her way through law school and landed a job as a criminal defense litigator at the Public Defender Service in Washington, DC, representing juveniles and adults charged with felony and misdemeanor crimes. “After several years in the courtroom, I needed a break. I was burned out.”

Some of her friends worked in the pharmaceutical industry and encouraged her to give it a try. She did and never looked back. During the years that followed, she worked in sales, marketing, analytics, market access and other roles. Along the way, she worked on products that could have an impact on nearly every aspect of human health — heart, lungs, brain, bones and bowels.

The year after her dad died from cancer, Wendy started working in oncology with another company focused on chronic myeloid leukemia and helped launch a lung cancer therapy that gave patients hope for the first time. “When I ended up in oncology, I knew I had found absolutely the right job for me.”

Wendy’s expertise and leadership have earned her many awards, including the 2020 Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Luminary Award. The honor recognizes transformational leadership and outstanding role models who represent the future of health care.

Always be kind

Of all the lessons she’s learned during her career, Wendy says her father was the greatest influence. “He was my hero. He taught me the value of a strong work ethic and the value of always being kind –not nice, but kind. Being nice is an action. Being kind is who you are.”

What other qualities does she believe lead to success?

  • Give 100%. “People will see your passion and recognize that you are all in. People will want to be part of that and get behind it.”
  • Find a mentor. “It doesn’t have to be a senior leader. Find someone you admire, ask them to have coffee and start talking.”
  • Go get what you want. “Don’t think you need all the answers to ask for a raise or a new role. Take a risk. Go for it.”
  • Be authentic. “It’s critically important for people to be themselves. So often, people feel as if they must fit a certain mold for their careers to advance. I do not believe that. Leadership must be diverse and open to considering different styles and approaches. That’s when the best comes out of companies.”

A canvas, a kitchen and a child

When she needs to unwind, Wendy paints. She’s working on a series of paintings called “Inception.” The pieces work together and feature colorful, concentric circles.

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“I can get lost for hours with a paintbrush and canvas. It’s a wonderful way to relieve stress.”

Wendy Short Bartie

She also loves to cook. “It runs deep in my Southern background,” says Wendy, adding that her best recipe is gumbo. “The secret to great gumbo is all in the roux. It takes an incredibly long time and a lot of patience to develop that rich, dark nutty color and flavor, but it makes all the difference in the gumbo.”

Wendy says her “biggest passion and greatest love” is her 12-year-old-daughter. “My husband Jared and I were married for almost 10 years before we were blessed with Madison. I think I tried every innovative approach and medical technology known to man to have a baby. As a result, I was a slightly older parent when Madison was born. Consequently, I have such an appreciation for motherhood, and I just love seeing the person Madison is growing into.”

Wendy and daughter Madison
Wendy Short Bartie family photo

Wendy, Madison and Jared