Who's Who of Professional Women


Armed with deep faith and true grit, Emily Harkins Filer has thrived in more than six decades in business administration and religion. She started out at The John Hopkins Hospital, first as a registrar from 1955 to 1957 and then as the secretary of the Hearing and Speech Center from 1957 to 1958. She proceeded to advance to positions like president of Distaff Wives, vice president of the board of directors of The Planning Council in Tidewater, Va., president of the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach, founder, coordinator, and executive director of Lee’s Friends, and director of development for YWCA South Hampton Roads. In 2006, Ms. Harkins Filer decided to move into the religious end of the spectrum, becoming an associate chaplain and clinical pastoral education resident for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, a PRN chaplain for Bon Secours Maryview & DePaul Hospitals, and an associate chaplain at Sentara Bayside Hospital. She also held titles like chair of the practice council for the Sentara Chaplaincy Department and member of the clinical pastoral education professional advisory group at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. She is currently lending her services to the Lee Harkins Endowment Committee as a secretary.

Ms. Harkins Filer prepared for her career by earning a degree from Villa Julie Medical Secretary School in 1955 and certification as a volunteer administrator in 1985. She became a CPE Level I through Sentara Healthcare in 2003 and a CPE Level II through Sentara Healthcare in 2009, as well as a Sentara advanced care planning facilitator in 2014. She was granted an honorary LHD from Providence Bible College and Theological Seminary in 2010.

As a testament to her hard work and dedication, Ms. Harkins Filer received a Health Care Hero Award from Inside Business in 2017 and a Hampton Roads Volunteer Achievement Award for Outstanding Community Service in 2014, and was included in “Successful Women Speak Out: A Collection of Personal Experience and Wisdom from Successful American Women,” by Stan Shur in 2011. Further, in 2005, she was honored with a Leading Edge Adopter Award, and in 2004, she was honored with a First Woman in Business Achievement Award from Inside Business, a Community Achievement Award from the Lee’s Friends Foundation of Hampton Roads, and the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service to the Hampton Roads Community from WAVY 10. Other accolades include an Eckerd Salute to Women Award, a Public Citizen of the Year Award from the Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, an Outstanding Community Service Award from the Norfolk Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a Distinguished Merit Citation from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, as well as many others. Her achievements were highlighted in numerous editions of Who’s Who in Finance and Business, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who of American Women.

When Ms. Harkins Filer isn’t working, she enjoys reading, walking, gardening, cooking, and painting. She is also very active in her community; she is a hospice caregiver, a pastoral caregiver, a chaplain, and a member of the food committee for Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay, and a lector and Eucharistic minister for Christ and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Additionally, Ms. Harkins Filer is a member of the professional advisory group for Clinical Pastoral Education, a licensed pastoral caregiver and lay reader for the Church of the Good Shepherd, and a member of the Hampton Roads Chaplains Association. She was previously a student mentor and a member of the Network for Empowering Woman Students at Tidewater Community College, a chair of the Mayor’s Commission on Aging in Virginia Beach, Va., and a delegate of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, among many other roles.


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