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Danlys Hernandez is a construction jefa on a mission to do two things: Pave the way for better communities and shatter glass ceilings.
“Since I can remember, I’ve always had to adapt to thrive,” Hernandez recalls. “Whether it’s the language, varying professional profiles of companies where I worked, or responding to the challenges of being a woman in a male dominated industry.”
Just consider how Hernandez tackles her work. Since CVS Health named her its executive director of enterprise construction and property administration in 2020, her team has executed construction of all non-retail building projects throughout the entire country. Whenever a CVS-owned or a newly acquired business entity such as Aetna, Caremark, Coram, Omnicare, Specialty PBM/Rx, or other healthcare organizations requires a new facility, or alterations to an existing facility like interiors, the work is handled by her team.
Hernandez leverages her background as an architect to ensure the end-product is designed and equipped to provide staff, clients, and patients with the highest level of care. “It’s what we do and how we deliver it to the end user,” she says.
The executive’s journey to the United States began when Fidel Castro temporarily lifted Cuba’s emigration ban in April 1980 and over 125,000 Cubans left for the US during the éxodo del Mariel, a boatlift which lasted six months.
“I remember some of the details of my trip here,” she says. “My mother filled in all the missing pieces as I got older, making me appreciate the dangers and sacrifices in her struggle to give us all a chance at a better life.” Hernandez also credits her mother for guiding and protecting her and her two other siblings at every step during their initial weeks in the US, and until her father was able to follow.
Over the years, her father and his brothers established a small business and Hernandez grew up watching her family divide their time between home and (hard) work. She credits that environment with instilling her with a strong work ethic.
Years later, following her college graduation, Hernandez joined hemmler + camayd architects in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “They were very active in the community and willing to include me in not just the industry, but in their volunteer work,” she explains. ” The desire to give something back stayed with me well into the future and I’m so grateful to them for exposing me to the idea of seeking fulfilment beyond my professional growth.”
Joining CVS Health, Hernandez reported to Danni Gallagher, vice president of planning, design, and construction. “This was my first time working for a woman boss,” she says, “and Danni became my mentor from the very first day.” Now Hernandez mentors three women pursuing construction and project management careers.
“Mentorship is extremely important, and it is one activity for which I continuously advocate,” she adds. “It the best way to push yourself and to pay it forward.”
Addditionally, Hernandez drives the success of professional women’s organizations and local nonprofits. She was among the founders of the Northeast Pennsylvania Chapter of Women in Construction and served on its first board.
She is also a member of the Women in Healthcare Organization and joined the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade Board of Directors in August 2022. “It’s so important to have open spaces and to have the ability to have these parks funded, especially with the population growing and so many working from home,” she says.
Hernandez remains unfazed by her busy schedule. She has welcomed the challenges that have made her who she is today. “We, as individuals, need to stay adaptable, open to change, and comfortable with the uncomfortable in order to continue to grow,” she advises.