PowerHouse Women — Renea Sageser

Oct 19, 2020 | Career

Using her passion for speech pathology and her servant’s heart, Renea Sageser began Associates in Pediatric Therapy.

Power, like women, is not a monolith; it comes in many forms. How women harness their power is as complex as the female species itself. Some lead by example, some take risks, some are not afraid to show their strength, others stay humble and behind the scenes. What all these PowerHouse Women have in common, however, is passion and the uncanny ability to turn a dream into a reality. They all believe in what they do and use that sense of purpose to become the best in their industries. Meet one of the six PowerHouse Women featured from the Louisville area who work to inspire others, cultivate change in their fields, and blaze trails wherever their leadership gifts guide them.

RENEA SAGESER

In 2007, as a stay-at-home mother of two, Renea Sageser noticed a deficiency in speech services for children older than three in her community. Using her passion for speech pathology and her servant’s heart, she began taking pediatric clients into her home — for free. After several months of juggling two small children and a full house of clients, her husband suggested that perhaps it was time to separate family and business. That year, she rented a space and began Associates in Pediatric Therapy. Today, she runs eight locations in Kentucky and Indiana and employs over 150 people. Renea believes in the power of family, and that tenet fuels the relationships she builds with her clients and employees. In fact, APT offers daycare to employees in their Shelbyville office and has been voted one of the Best Places to Work for three straight years.

WHY RENEA HAS A SPECIAL INTEREST IN SPEECH

As a child, Renea Sageser was not expected to go to college. She struggled in school due to a severe speech disability that impacted her verbal expression and reading comprehension. But three life events changed her path and laid the foundation for
this PowerHouse Woman. From the age of 3 until fifth grade, she participated in speech classes, an experience that forever changed the trajectory of her life. Years later, as a senior in high school, her mother was in a severe car accident that left her with speech problems. Renea said that was when God called her to become a speech therapist and help others overcome their disabilities.

HOW DID YOU REACH SUCCESS?

I look at success in terms of who I am, not what I have or have not accomplished. I am a Wife, Daughter, Mother, Sister, Friend, and CEO. With each of these titles comes different responsibilities, and each has shaped me into the woman I am today. I sometimes just show up at one of our offices and sit in a waiting room and look at the big picture of APT and am reminded of the journey that brought us where we are today and the journey we continue to be on to impact the families we serve. I feel so blessed to be a part of this organization that is truly changing lives.

OVERCOMING YOUR MOST CHALLENGING MOMENTS?

Toxic people, fear of failure, and constant negativity have been a few of my challenging moments as a leader. It is important to feel your feelings. I realize that it is OK to feel pain, be sad, angry, or frustrated. I know that everyone struggles, and no one is perfect.

WHAT BRINGS SUCCESS IN YOUR INDUSTRY?

Flexibility and adaptability are key factors in any industry but especially when working with children. Things change, life happens, and we have to adapt. Pairing my passion for children with the dedication to meeting the needs of our patients has brought opportunities of success for our company.

WHAT IS POWER?

The definition of power actually means “energy.” As a leader, you have to exalt energy within your company. It takes energy to keep your company alive.

ADVICE TO THOSE SEEKING A CAREER PATH?

What is your passion? How can you be the change? Do what you love to do and don’t do it for the money or to get noticed. That is just an extra bonus if it happens.

HOW TO GET BETTER AT YOUR JOB?

I have been mentored by incredible leaders who challenge me and are sounding boards during the highs and lows of business. I also think that as leaders we must continue to invest in learning and developing both personally and professionally.

DEFINING MOMENT?

My father expressed that when I was a child, he wasn’t sure that I’d ever go to college, so to see how proud they were of me and being a testament that a disability doesn’t have to be a deciding factor in how far you go in life.

HOW TO HELP EMERGING PROFESSIONALS?

Give back and mentor others. Get involved in the community. We offer mentorship programs at our offices. APT has been blessed to have hired many emerging professionals who have gone on to become therapists and leaders within our company. Even as the CEO, I have always tried to take at least one new graduate under my wing to develop skills as a therapist and leader. 

P.S. Read about the other PowerHouse Women in the October issue.