By Susan HitchcockFounder & Host Emerita of Women in Leadership
Dr. Stephanie Gordon can’t be defined in a few words because she’s truly multifaceted. She’s double-board certified in general OB/GYN and urogynecology; an entrepreneur, bookstore/wine & coffee bar owner; – wife to David, mother of three daughters, and a dedicated community advocate in McDonough, GA. Dr. Gordon founded The Women’s Center, PC in 2003 – now in two locations – and her current practice includes female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. She operates at both Piedmont Henry Hospital and Rockdale Medical Center. Not surprisingly, she’s been voted “Top Doc” multiple times and has a 4.9 Satisfaction Rating!
Clearly Dr. Gordon is a dynamic individual, an Everyday SHEro for sure, and her story is extremely inspiring. Sharing it helps to explain more about who she is, what drives her to do what she does, and how she manages to do it all.
Early Life Influences
Born in Atlanta, “Stephanie” grew up as an only child. Without siblings to play with, she was often taken to the library by her parents and became a self-taught learner. “Anything I wanted to know, there was no internet so I’d go to the library and look it up. With kind of an intellectual curiosity, I always wanted to know the answer to things – and I was always in a hurry to do stuff,” she said.
That intellectual curiosity and early exposure to information and research made Stephanie a very resourceful person – and put her on an accelerated path to more learning and ultimately, to where she is today. That path began when she skipped her senior year of high school and entered Georgia Tech at 16! “Looking back,” she said, “I don’t know that that was a really good idea. I may have been book smart, but the academic and social difficulties were a bit overwhelming, especially in my first quarter.”
Starting out with a GPA of 1.1 that first quarter, Stephanie knew she had to make some changes in order to retain her full scholarship provided by Swift Textile Mills. “I knew that GPA wasn’t going to cut it so I quickly got it together and figured out how to study, organize my time and keep my scholarship.”
The lesson she learned from this early experience has stayed with her ever since. “In a difficult situation, don’t just stay there, keep moving and find a solution. That’s sort of been the theme of my life.”
Next chapter – medical school and adult life
Stephanie graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in genetics and molecular biology and immediately applied to medical school. Initially she was wait listed, so she got a great job as a pharmaceutical rep. “I applied again and got into med school,” she said. “It’s just sort of pivoting and being creative and resourceful – that’s the same in parenting, marriage and even in retail that I’m doing now.”
Going into med school Stephanie was open minded and eager to learn it all. She liked several of her rotations but OB/GYN really spoke to her because it’s preventive care and solutions based. “I also wanted surgery as a subspecialty. Later, after residency and into private practice, I decided that urogynecology would be my focus.”
Along the way, Stephanie got married to David, who also went to Tech and majored in architecture. Theirs was certainly a hectic life as a young married professional couple – two demanding careers, and soon, two children 15 months apart! “In 2003, I had Annie, my second daughter, and also quit the practice I had joined straight out of residency and started my own GYN practice. Mostly I just wanted to have control of my destiny, my schedule, and especially my call schedule. But I had to stop doing OB because I didn’t have a partner and you can’t be on call every night of the year!”
When the partnership didn’t work out, Stephanie’s decision to quit was not without stress. But her resourcefulness kicked in along with some assistance from Dr. David Huber, a Tech grad and former president of Piedmont Rockdale Hospital. Her contract with her previous employer restricted her from practicing within a 10 mile radius, so Stephanie went 11 miles away to Conyers. Accompanied by her two small babies in a double stroller, she met with Dr. Huber to discuss her current situation.
“I’ve been lucky,” she said, “that people have been put in my life that have been mentors and people who show me the way when there’s not necessarily a way. At the end of that unplanned but welcomed meeting with Dr. Huber, he offered me emergency privileges at the hospital, took me to an office that Rockdale owned and gave me a lease that day! And – it worked out.”
Hitting her stride – going first and going further
Early in her private practice, Dr. Allen Futral entered Stephanie’s professional life and made a definite impact. “He was with Georgia Urology and told me how much business there was and he wanted to show me how to do these surgeries. That was what really started the urology part of my training. I did that for 10 years. In 2013, the medical board caught up with our work and offered the first boards for people to sit for, for urogyn. I did that in the first class, even before it became a formal specialty.” Like a lot of other kinds of start-ups, Stephanie didn’t have a lot of capital to fund her practice and so she had to find ways to repay Rockdale that didn’t involve a conflict of interest. Part of that included doing talks in the community, senior centers, the Boys and Girls Club, the health department, etc.
But as her practice grew, she was able to buy three acres and her husband built a building for her. “If I’m going to work for 20-30 years,” Stephanie said, “I don’t want to pay someone else for rent. In a few years when my restrictive covenant was up and we continued to grow, I was able to return to Henry County, open the second practice, and – own a second building.” Fast forward to 2023, Stephanie has six providers and a nurse support staff in her practice. In order to manage two locations miles apart, see multiple patients in weekly clinics, and operate in two different hospitals, her schedule has to be regimented. So – the question is, how/why does she do it?
“I don’t get beaten down by the work that I do, caring for women’s health,” Stephanie explained. “I enjoy it, I find it valuable and noble work. I also work with great people, have a good support system, and a team that reads my mind and anticipates my needs. That’s huge. I also delegate, ask for ask, but at the end of the day, I think you have to figure out what it is that you think is fun. Not everybody thinks my work is fun, but I do!”
Personal life and beyond
When her three girls were young, she said, “I’d drag them along to the hospital, so they saw me work, doing rounds, seeing patients. They knew it was good work, important work and they saw how my patients and I interacted, which was good. But now that they’re older and starting to make their own career decisions, they don’t want to be doctors. Like others in their generation, they want more work-life balance, and good for them.”
Stephanie and David have a lot to be proud of in their three daughters. Their oldest is a rising senior at Tulane, and is focused on public health. She wants to sustain and save the earth and plans to get her masters at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The middle daughter is a sophomore at UCLA studying cognitive science. Lastly, the “baby” of the family is a junior at Woodward Academy and she plans to pursue nursing. All in all, they are extremely bright, well-traveled (passports since they were babies) and well-rounded young women ready to take on the world, thanks in no small part to a terrific role model in their mother. It also helps that David is a devoted husband and father, the ying to Stephanie’s yang – a terrific partner for life’s ups as well as the downs.
Oh yes. In her “spare time” Stephanie owns and manages a bookstore in downtown McDonough – called Story on the Square which she started in January 2019. The back story on how this came to be involves some amazing people she met back in 2016 when she was part of Leadership Georgia. Today her bookstore also serves as a community gathering place and has actually helped revitalize this small town. While buying a 100+ year old, historic building (formerly the Masonic Lodge) with her husband and completely renovating it wasn’t easy, they’ve learned a lot of hard lessons about the retail business and managing through extremely tough times, i.e., a 3 year pandemic. That particular experience required significant flexibility and creativity.
To balance her hectic lifestyle and keep herself centered in mind, body, and spirit, Stephanie and her family love attending professional soccer games (GO ATL United!) She also loves to unwind near the water when possible and perhaps listen to some books on tape. Her ideal getaway is quiet time at nearby Lake Sinclair – no tv, no computer. Along with David, she also enjoys vacation trips abroad to a “nowhere place” – a place not frequented by regular tourists and off the beaten path.
Bucket list or plans for the future
Clearly, Stephanie leads a very fulfilling and full-to-the-brim life, and she’s still in her prime. However, it’s only right that she’s also looking ahead to what her next chapter might be – especially after her daughters are all through college. “I don’t really have any more professional goals,” she said, “but with 20+ years in private practice, I’m thinking ahead about what I’d like to do when I retire. I expect to keep the real estate part of the business, and that would allow David and me the freedom to travel even more. Actually, my ultimate dream is to relocate to Europe. I’ve worked hard and I want to enjoy the fruits of that.” Amen! Dr. Stephanie Gordon, you deserve for all your dreams to come true. Kudos to this quintessential Everyday SHEro – a woman who lives her purpose and passion every single day.