Dolly Garnecki, Veteran Air Force Officer Soars as CEO
By: Jennie L. Ilustre
Dr. Dolly Garnecki is a chiropractic physician and CEO of Spinal Health & Wellness. She is based in Charlottesville , Virginia . But she is known locally and internationally, through her work, speeches, and the articles and books she has co-authored. She belongs to an elite group of doctors capable of reducing scoliosis curvature without the use of bracing or surgery.
Recently, she received the Outstanding Veteran-Owned Small Business from SCORE. Dr. Garnecki used to fly combat missions in Iraq . The award is sponsored by Insperity.
She considers the award “a milestone.” Given the recession, she had a tough time getting her practice off the ground and staying airborne. She credits the support of Stephen Garnecki, Jr., her husband of 11 years.
The couple has a son, Calvin Kai, who turns four next month. Dr. Garnecki launched her practice with her 13 month-old son by her side. (“There were times he was strapped to my back in a baby carrier, and he’d take his naps in a room in our office.”)
She is grateful to the Charlottesville community: “Such a strong and supportive place to grow a woman-and-veteran-owned business.” While she comes from a family of entrepreneurs, she likewise tipped her hat to Paula Pagonakis, her SCORE mentor. She said, “Her knowledge and wisdom augmented my own, enabling me to increase productivity, create better customer service, and increase my marketing footprint.”
SCORE (www.score.org) is a nonprofit association. It provides free counseling to entrepreneurs, “helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide.”
Mentor Pagonakis said Dolly identifies input and when she needs help, “so she has all of her options in time to make the best decisions proactively, avoiding problems before they occur. Her energy is endless, and quite often, I have to remind her to delegate other tasks.”
Dr. Garnecki is a magna cum laude graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport , Iowa , where she earned her Doctorate of Chiropractic degree. She is fondly known as the “Scoliosis Doc.” Indeed, her website is www.scoliosisdoc.com. Testimonials abound, including one from Kim H. of Charlottesville , VA. (“I started wearing a heel lift when I was 13 years old. 20 years later…I’ve been able to eliminate it, thanks to Dr. Dolly. That is HUGE!”
Dr. Garnecki provides patients with spinal adjustments, counseling on nutrition and workplace ergonomics, as well as overseeing exercise and rehabilitation therapies. She also conducts paid seminars, as well as free seminars as a public service.
“I’ve flown in combat during the Iraq war, facing the uncertainty of whether or not I’d return home from the war,” Dr. Garnecki said in an email. “The stresses of war and combat missions pale in comparison to the constant stress and uncertainty of launching and running a new business during an economic recession.”
SCORE Marketing Director Bridget Weston Pollack said in an email, “Dolly Garnecki’s military experience has taught her the importance of discipline and planning ahead. With these skills and the guidance of her SCORE mentor, Dolly consistently sets new business goals and develops plans to reach them. Diversification and a willingness to try new things and learn have made her a successful entrepreneur and a SCORE Success Story.”
Her success story includes overcoming the neck injury she suffered from a serious hit-and-run car accident a week before the September 11 national tragedy. Then a young U.S. Air Force 2nd lieutenant in her early 20s, she was deemed fit by doctors to fly combat missions.
She is a recipient of several awards. Among these: Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, and National Defense Service Medal (1999 to 2004) and Squadron Electronic Combat Officer of the Year.
Dolly was born in Washington State . She has a younger sister. Her parents are Chang Yu Yen (Pansy Chang Campbell) and Dan Lee Dimke (father), and James R. Campbell (stepfather).
Members of her family serve as role models. (“As a young, single mother in a country where English is not her native tongue, my mother worked several jobs to provide for me and my sister.”) Eventually, her mom purchased an existing business, a gift shop in Medical City, one of the largest hospitals in Dallas, Texas. Later, she sold her business and launched a franchise of Swensen’s ice cream store in a mall in Fort Worth, Texas. Dolly’s father was a book author who launched the publishing company, Future World, in Irving, Texas .
Her grandparents on both sides of her family owned and operated business: restaurants and a marble factory in Taiwan, apartments and a furniture store in eastern Washington State .
Her husband is very supportive. “While also pursuing his career goals, he puts in just as much time with parenting, cooking dinner several nights a week, and he makes breakfast for our family every morning,” Dolly said. “He also does the book-keeping and other financial administration tasks, and helps construct or repair therapeutic equipment.”
This summer, she was invited to speak in Shanghai, China at a spinal conditions seminar at Xin Hua hospital and Jiao Tong University. In the spring, she worked alongside the other two founders of CVille Sheblogs, an innovative blogging and social media group, to launch Blogville, central Virginia ’s first blogging conference.
She taught “Blogging 101” at the Blogville conference for start-up and newer hobby and business bloggers. In October, she’s teaching over 100 chiropractic physicians and staff members about leveraging social media and blogging to grow a practice for the Unified Virginia Chiropractic Association fall conference.
Q & A
What are you currently busy doing? I see patients with scoliosis from as far away as Louisiana and Indiana. Prospective patients from Bangladesh, Bahrain, Canada, Mongolia, and China have contacted me regarding possible treatment or consultation for scoliosis of a family member.
While we work with patients as young as newborns for wellness check-ups, and expectant mothers who desire wellness care during pregnancy, we also focus on young athletes who want to prevent injury in sports, or gain a competitive edge by having optimal spinal alignment and wellness coaching. We’re already scheduling patients who live out of the local area for one to two weeks of intensive scoliosis treatment in our clinic.
What are your plans for the future? Short-term goals include partnering with other businesses to teach professional seminars on non-invasive scoliosis corrective treatment techniques at multiple locations, both within the U.S. and internationally. Long-term, I’d like to grow the business such that one day, there is a multi-disciplinary aspect where we can draw in a team of like-minded health care providers to focus on women’s and children’s wellness and health. I’d like to teach interns the scoliosis treatment techniques and protocols so that this type of care–where patients can reduce and improve scoliosis–can be more widely available within the U.S., as well as in other countries.