Mary Ella Cummings has served as Executive Assistant to CEO Kent McRae for four years — a role that requires adaptability and keen attention to detail, the ability to wear different hats of responsibility, and a positive approach to whatever tasks come her way. According to her colleagues, she excels at it all, and then some.

Described as a “forward-thinking individual who loves to make a difference,” it wasn’t a surprise that Mary Ella won Employee of the Month last year, which is an honor that automatically qualified her for Employee of the Year. However, she admits it didn’t cross her mind that she could win this esteemed accolade because of the great admiration for her fellow co-workers also in the running.

At a small gathering held in December to announce the 2020 Mease Life Employee of the Year, Mary Ella received quite a shock when she began to realize the description of the person who won the award was about her.

“I remember feeling a little numb, and I know my eyes got really big,” Mary Ella says with her iconic laugh. “I was really thrilled by it because it’s recognition from the people I work with most closely, and it’s just great to be appreciated for what you do. Thank you goes a long way, but Employee of the Year is just amazing.”

Mary Ella’s enthusiasm for life is contagious, an attitude that positively affects how she approaches her job. With a personal motto of “look up,” she does her best to view any task, problem, or conversation through a lens of hope.

“Mary Ella is probably one of the greatest hires that I’ve ever managed to make in my 40-year career,” McRae says. “I’ve had some great executive assistants, but she hails above all the rest because she’s not the kind of person that looks at a job description and says, ‘This is what I’m committed to doing’ — she’s always looking for what’s not being taken care of and what needs to be done. Mary Ella is a very special and unique individual. We treat her as one of our senior leadership team members just because of all the value she brings to this organization.”