Stephan Lillie: Grace Will Lead Us On

Stephen Lillie and his family.Stephan Lillie, FACHE, is Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. He started working for our organization in May 2021. Stephan leads finance for Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, and his responsibilities include oversight of all things financial, operations and performance related.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month refreshes one of the greatest blessings that we have received, memory. The deliberate effort to celebrate Black people and our contributions forces one to remember when we were more oppressed, what we came through, and how we got over. It is nothing short of a miracle. Black History Month reminds me of how incredible my ancestors, grandparents and parents are to triumph over unfathomable suffering, hurt and ridicule with their heads held high. It is a reminder of the millions of shoulders on whom I stand today. Whom if it had not been for their faith, will to live, courage and resilience, I would not be here. While Black History Month activates the blessing of memory, it also foreshadows. If we can achieve the heights which we have in spite of the obstacles that have been placed in front us thus far, imagine what will be done as America continues to remove obstacles. The songwriter said it best, “Through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come. Grace has brought us this far, and grace will lead us on.”

Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. Who is a leader that inspires you and why?

My grandfather, Ben Roy Lillie, Sr. While maybe not known globally, his life, example, faith and love for people has left an eternal imprint on my life. As a child in the country town of Shepard, Texas, he and his parents and siblings came home from Bible study one night to find every ounce of their belongings out on the dirt road. They had literally been kicked out of their home because an oil company had struck oil under their land. That company today is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world. As an adult living in Houston, he along with my grandmother and five children came home one night in 1968 to find a cross burning in their yard. They were the first Black family to move into the Riverwood community and were obviously not welcomed. Despite these and other horrific realities of the Jim Crow South and segregation which he faced; it did not define him. Through it all, he is one of the kindest, most loving, and God-fearing men that I know. For the last 47 years, he has pastored the Greater True Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Houston and has been a very present husband, father and community leader. To have experienced this degree of tribulation, yet to prevail with such an excellent spirit makes him one of my greatest inspirations.

At Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, we create a space where ALL Belong. How do you see Wake Forest Baptist fostering an environment where ALL Belong?

I see it in very tangible ways such as the rollout of our Inclusive Hiring Toolkit or our Restorative Pathways Program. However, we are also doing this in deeper but perhaps less visible ways. For example, our approach to business planning and keeping our “For ALL” mission as the starting point. The way in which we take services to new markets and the considerations for access/transportation that we include. We are also being very deliberate with our clinical trials and ensuring that there is material Black and Brown representation in our work to discover cures for diseases plaguing our communities. It is fulfilling to be a part of an organization that is taking such intentional steps.