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VIProfile: Michele Lawless

Story by Emily Robertson

For Michele Lawless, she knew from a young age what she enjoyed and what she wanted to do for a career. Even her early imaginative play as a child would foreshadow her work she does now as CFO at Med Center Health.

“I first became interested in accounting in grade school,” Lawless says. “A friend’s father was a CPA and his office seemed busy and important. My mom will tell you, even at a young age, one of my favorite things to do was play office.”

Lawless’ grandmother worked with data and she would bring her granddaughters scrap paper reports on green bar paper, which the girls would use for pretend play. As Lawless grew, so did her love for math, and she first got a taste of accounting in high school.

“My high school, Lexington Catholic, offered accounting as an elective course,” Lawless says. “I took my first accounting class as a junior in high school and loved it. I would say that was the point where I was certain accounting was what I wanted to do.”

After attending University of Kentucky for her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, Lawless began her career in Lexington working in public accounting for KPMG. Later, she moved to Bowling Green to work for BKD, also in public accounting.

“I was fortunate to get into the healthcare niche very early in my career,” Lawless says. “My very first audit at KPMG was a hospital audit and I was able to continue in healthcare when I moved to BKD. I then started at Med Center Health in 2000.”

Outside of work, Lawless’ greatest passion is her family. Michele and her husband, Paul, a Bowling Green native, have been married 25 years after meeting their sophomore year at UK. The couple has three daughters: Kate, a junior at the University of Georgia; Anne, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky; and Claire, a freshman at Bowling Green High School. She credits her parents as the foundation of her family, as well as one of the many great influences she had in her early years.

“My parents are hardworking, caring people who instilled discipline in my life,” Lawless says. “My parents, siblings, husband and children have always been and continue to be my biggest cheerleaders in life. I am the youngest of four siblings and have always felt the love and attention they gave me. My friends throughout grade school and high school are kind, fun and smart people who made me want to be better and smarter. It was never a matter of ‘if ’ with this group, just a matter of when they would do what they set out to do. And the great influences have continued with my marriage to Paul and his family.”

Her extended family has been a source of great joy for Lawless, which she hopes continues with her own children. “We are close to our family on both sides,” Lawless says. “Paul and I are lucky that our siblings are close in age, the cousins on both sides are close in age and we all truly enjoy each other. There are a total of seventeen grandchildren on both sides of our family. Our families support each other and are truly happy for each other’s successes. I hope that we have been able to pass this along to our children as well.”

Lawless has lived in the Bowling Green community for 25 years and loves the size of the city and the opportunities she and her family find here. Now, working for such a well-known and respected organization in the community, she sees her role as CFO for Med Center Health to support the staff, the individuals who are helping people each and every day.

“I really enjoy the work and I enjoy digging into new things,” Lawless says. “But we have staff working to save people’s lives and helping people live healthier, happier lives. I just get the privilege to help the business side of the organization run smoothly so the doctors and nurses can continue to do what they do best. Becoming CFO at Med Center Health is probably my greatest accomplishment and I am honored that Connie Smith, President and CEO, gave me this opportunity.”

Looking towards the future, Lawless hopes to continue to move forward both personally and professionally. “For my family, I really enjoy seeing their next phase. I don’t dread changes, because I’m so excited to see what my daughters become. They’ve had a wonderful education here in Bowling Green that has prepared them for college and life,” Lawless says. “As for my career, I couldn’t ask for three better companies to spend my time. KPMG and BKD are fantastic companies that gave me a great foundation to bring to Med Center Health. I’m very proud to work for Med Center Health and wholeheartedly believe in the work the organization does. I am happy to be able to continue the work of those who came before me at Med Center Health, continuing to grow and provide the services needed by this region.” 

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