My Empire: Monica Wharton, at the top of her game - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

My Empire: Monica Wharton, at the top of her game

Monica Wharton (Source: WMC Action News 5) Monica Wharton (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Our series on Mid-South women and the secrets to their success turns to a woman with a well-known last name who is at the top of her game.

The name Wharton may bring to mind a former mayor or his wife's law legacy, but it's their daughter-in-law who's getting the spotlight in our My Empire series.

As Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for Regional One Health, Monica Wharton built her own empire from humble beginnings.

"When I tell you I've been blessed, I know," she said.

Wharton feels a deep sense of gratitude for her mother, who sacrificed every day to give Wharton as much as possible.

"She worked three jobs, quite frankly, to put me through private school," Wharton explained.

Click here to learn why Wharton thinks mentors are vitally important.

Her gratefulness extends to her father who believed in her long before she believed in herself.

"Before my father took his last breath, he looked at me and said, 'You go to college and you go to law school,'" Wharton recalled. "He said, 'I know you can do it.'"

As a young girl growing up in Montclair, New Jersey, then Monica Robinson spent her days at the library. Her favorite section: Civil Rights.

She had never met a lawyer, but she read about the great attorneys of that era.

"I was able to look at people in books and say, 'Gosh, that person looks like me.  I can do that!’”

Reading about men and women making real and lasting change flipped a switch inside Wharton.

Click here to see the entire My Empire series.

At age 14, she called up her local NAACP chapter and asked if they had a youth group. The local chapter said their youth group was not currently active, so Wharton decided to change that.

She not only started that chapter, but also laid the foundation for the three pillars to her later success.

"One was faith, the other was family, and the other was hard work,” Wharton said. “My faith in God allowed me to see beyond my circumstances."

That meant studying hard because her mother taught her that education was the pathway to success.

Monica found her way at Hampton University where she met her husband, Andre Wharton of Memphis. She then had a life-changing internship for the City of Newark, which confirmed her commitment to become an attorney.

After William and Mary School of Law, she secured a federal clerkship.

Monica credits mentors who believed in her.

"There have been so many people who've been rooting for me throughout my life who God has placed in my path to make sure I would get where I needed to be," she said.

That place is now at Regional One Health as Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, a position Monica took after years with the Glankler-Brown law firm in Memphis.

It turns out those stories she read in the library so many years ago left an indelible mark.

"I understand the value of corporate jobs, I'm just a very mission-oriented person,” Wharton said. “Being a part of something where there is something larger--our mission is to provide health care for those who are in greatest need."

On following her dreams: "I understand that with the right will, determination, and being centered in a higher being--for me that's God--that anything is possible."

When it comes to building an empire Wharton said there's no time to wait for what you want you have to make it happen.

A lesson she's now teaching her three sons and sharing with her adoring husband.

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