Having crafted her own development journey, it is only natural Betsy McCubrey encourages others to do the same. “Grab every opportunity you are given,” she advises. “Treat people well and create your own flexibility and capacity so you can evolve.” As group vice president and deputy general counsel at DaVita Kidney Care, she engages with her team as a community, empowers individuals to set goals, and opens space for progress.
From a young age, McCubrey set her goals high. “I knew before healthcare that I wanted to be an attorney, because, well,” she laughs, “I didn’t want the scratchy tissues.” When her parents refused to spend the extra few dollars on a new ‘puff-plus’ tissue line, ten-year-old McCubrey asked her grandmother what it would take to buy the softer brand. What her grandmother told her would instill a particular drive in her that would grow larger than the deluxe tissue matter at hand. “I’m going to be a lawyer,” she recalls saying, “and I’m going to buy the soft tissues.”
While she always knew she’d be a lawyer, her desire to specialize in healthcare would mature over time. It was in college when she was first attracted to the idea. “It’s this area that truly impacts every single person,” she reflects. “It’s complex and it’s different, and it was constantly evolving. It’s something that affects everyone—and it impacts me.”
McCubrey took a risk. At the time, healthcare law was in its early phases. Not to mention she was poised to take on enormous debt to attend both graduate and law school. Achieving her goals amid these challenges took a fervent sense of determination. “I knew if I worked hard, was passionate about it, and invested in it, it would work out.” With a cast of supportive parents, helpful professors, and mentors along the way, McCubrey actualized her dreams and enjoyed the journey getting there.
At DaVita, McCubrey bears the advantage of having a legal background in healthcare. She was offered an opportunity in the compliance department upon hire, which led her to the legal division shortly thereafter. Under her wing, she is currently accountable for the company’s regulatory, operations, and subsidiary attorneys for its more than 2,600 clinics and adjacent businesses across the country. With the duality of a healthcare-legal foundation, DaVita entrusts McCubrey to lead a team of more than ninety attorneys, paralegals, specialists, and administrators. Interacting with the many faces of her team is by far her favorite part of the job.
Cultivating a sense of community—what they call “people development”—is intrinsic to her leadership style. “Most people can do what they do in a lot of places,” McCubrey explains. “You spend a lot of your time working, so you want to work somewhere you want to be.”
One strategic pillar of the legal department is dedicated entirely to “creating a special place.” And by voluntarily assuming ownership of this pillar, McCubrey is helping drive professional development, personal alignment, and “team,” all with an eye toward diversity and belonging. “Team” allows everyone to feel like they are part of something, empowers employees, and leaves room for fun. Furthermore, she seeks to create the space for others to both pave their own paths forward and invest in the paths of their colleagues. Professional development reflects continued growth and learning, adds to fulfillment and retention, and makes employees better. But she believes that “you own your professional development”—and the same is true for personal alignment. She says, “It’s necessary to do your job and do it well, but find those things that make you want to come to work in the morning and really embrace them.”
“Grab every opportunity you are given.”
McCubrey’s modus operandi has had positive effects throughout the legal department. By facilitating the creation of employee committees, outwardly sharing goals, and supporting fun, the department has continued to see increases in retention and fulfillment. These committees—the fun committee, newsletter committee, and service and volunteer committee, to name a few—are empowered to develop themselves and the individuals on board. “It gets people out of their boxes,” McCubrey indicates. These team-engaging activities offer employees a way to personally align with their positions. In fact, for her, developing oneself as a collaborative and spirited teammate is an essential part of being on staff. In other words, “If you’re not a team player, then no one cares how smart you are.”
McCubrey supports all members of the department but works to really extend the concepts of professional growth and development to the women on her team and throughout DaVita, driven by her own journey in the field. She wants to be an advocate and serve as a visual role model, proving that a woman can have a family and still be very successful, both within the legal profession as well as in a large healthcare corporation. “We have a big push for diversity and belonging, but if everyone at the top still looks the same, it doesn’t resonate—it’s important to be intentional.” As a mother of two young children herself, she is motivated to raise other women up when she can to positively change what the role of a leader can be.
When she considers the future, McCubrey aims to resist complacency, accept new challenges, and open the space for others to lead—or as she would say: “Own it!”