CHA salutes exceptional young leaders in the ministry

June 15, 2017

w170615 TomorrowsLeaders-2
CHA is giving a nod to the future, honoring as Tomorrow's Leaders 11 accomplished individuals — all age 40 or younger — who are poised to continue to make significant contributions to the ministry for years to come. The class of honorees were to join senior ministry executives for a retreat and be recognized at the 2017 Catholic Health Assembly in New Orleans.

Here's a snapshot of some of the noteworthy contributions they've made to date.


Jim Boyle
Vice president of information services, St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare, St. Joseph Health, Anaheim, Calif.

Since his teens, Jim Boyle has loved to find and solve problems. That drew him to technology. And he also experienced the joy of working to benefit others, which drew him to a career where improving processes could improve people's lives. He put the pieces together as information technology director at St. Jude Medical Center, a St. Joseph Health hospital in Fullerton, Calif., before taking on his current role.

"We operated under the mindset of continual improvement and experimentation," said Boyle, 38. "That really fostered innovation and empowered me to be a successful leader." He keeps St. Joseph's mission at the core of his efforts. For example, he ensured that the system's telehealth services benefit poor and vulnerable patients, particularly those who historically had limited access to technology.

As vice president of information services he has:

  • Helped develop an app for patient scheduling that also allows physicians to more readily identify gaps in care.
  • Installed an automated process to fill open physician appointments from a patient wait list.
  • Implemented a telehealth system that lets patients see a physician from home, for low-acuity visits and for high-risk patients who lack transportation.

"His knack for innovation, commitment to excellence and innate ability to lead has enabled our ministry to pilot new technologies, improve our (electronic medical record) experience, and ease the way for our caregivers and patients," said Kevin Manemann, president and chief executive of St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare, a physician practice management organization.


Kevin Cullinan
Market director, perioperative services and orthopedics, CHI St. Vincent, Little Rock, Ark.

Since joining the CHI St. Vincent system in 2012, Kevin Cullinan has been promoted four times, with increasing levels of responsibility. The 30-year-old currently oversees all orthopedics including the joint replacement program and spine services for the system, perioperative services, rehabilitation services, patient access and respiratory therapy.

In nominating Cullinan for the Tomorrow's Leaders recognition, CHI St. Vincent said that representatives from prestigious medical centers have come to CHI St. Vincent to observe best practices put into place by Cullinan.

"When a surgeon tells me that the O.R. runs better today than it did a year ago, I feed off that," he said. "When a family tells me that they received great care and don't want to go anywhere else," he said, "that motivates me to do more."

Cullinan joined CHI St. Vincent as an administrative fellow and completed his capstone project there to earn a master's in health administration from Cornell University. The health system's board implemented several of the strategies he proposed to meet unmet health needs in its central Arkansas market.

"Kevin has gone above and beyond to personify the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, both serving as a servant leader, but also by enabling others around him to bring out the best of themselves," said Jonathan P. Timmis, system vice president of strategy for Catholic Health Initiatives.


Kay Gorka
Manager of spiritual care services, Providence Health & Services, Eastern Washington, Renton, Wash.: Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital and Medical Clinics, Spokane, Wash.

Working as a nurse's aide, 15-year-old Kay Gorka had an intuitive grasp of her patients' emotional pain.

"You sense that it's not just the physical part of a patient's life" that's a source of pain, she said. "There's so much more comforting that's needed." When she chose a career, she pursued a path that would allow her to touch and heal that part of the human spirit.

She earned a master's in pastoral care from Seattle University in 2004. A year later, at the age of 25, she became the youngest person ever certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. (The average age of a certified chaplain nationally is 55.) She joined Providence in 2006.

At Providence Sacred Heart and Holy Family, Gorka, now 37, created a protocol to chart chaplain notes in the patient's electronic medical record. Physicians, physical therapists and social workers consult the chaplain's notes routinely to better understand patient needs.

Gorka has organized "critical incident stress management" training for caregivers and first responders to develop resilience and coping skills they can apply following traumatic events — skills that they can pass on to patients and families.

"I want our staff to know that they have it inside themselves to provide compassionate care," she said.


Dr. Kevin Howard
Director, physician residency program, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Ashland, Ky., part of Bon Secours Kentucky Health System

Dr. Kevin Howard didn't need to look beyond his own backyard — in the heart of Appalachia — to recognize where he was needed most. "I remember my dad having to take my grandfather two hours away to see his doctor when I was young, and I remember thinking, 'We need more doctors locally,'" he said.

After graduating from medical school, and completing his residency at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in 2006-2007, he joined the Kentucky Air National Guard as a medical officer and started his practice in Appalachia, running a family practice clinic for Our Lady of Bellefonte. Howard, 40, is a major in the Kentucky Air National Guard 123rd medical group. In January, he joined the board of the hospital.

In addition to his practice, he directs the Family Practice Residency Program at Our Lady of Bellefonte and is medical director for the Northeast Kentucky Care Center, a free clinic.

In nominating Howard for the Tomorrow's Leaders recognition, Marguerite P. Gilner, vice president of mission for the hospital, said the poor have a special place in his heart and receive his greatest compassion. "He has a gift for understanding the challenges the poor face and never criticizes them for being noncompliant. He takes the time to help them make healthier choices and takes it upon himself to find solutions to their problems," she wrote.

"Kevin has a calling to serve to heal and consistently exhibits what we all hope for in a physician and leader. He is humble yet confident and is an inspiration to others," said Dr. John Darnell, chief medical officer at Our Lady of Bellefonte.


Ji Im
Senior director of community and population health, Dignity Health, San Francisco

Ji Im describes her role with Dignity Health as "a hybrid, to bridge the community health work being done by our hospitals to the strategies of population health management." She interprets that directive as "allowing me to think outside the box to serve the community with my head and my heart."

Im, 36, manages the Social Innovation Partnership Grant Program and works with communities to identify and execute innovative service delivery. Her solutions almost always use technology as a bridge between community service providers and Dignity Health's most vulnerable patients, people not always served through traditional models.

For Dignity Health in Nevada, she worked with a technology partner to develop an online referral solution for patients to connect to health programs and community resources. It is being implemented in 17 Dignity Health hospitals. In Northern California, she used data to identify high-utilizing patients and gathered community organizations to serve them. Im also helped implement One Degree, a community resource platform that connects patients to housing, food, transportation, health care, dental care and financial and legal services, accessible on a website and through mobile devices.

"It is through Ji's leadership that we are stepping out of our silos and working together as a network of community providers to offer seamless and coordinated care, share information and manage the health of fragile populations," said Page West, Dignity Health's senior vice president and chief nursing executive.


Rachel Lucy
Director of learning and development, PeaceHealth, Vancouver, Wash.

Many of the Tomorrow's Leaders credit those older and wiser for shaping their leadership style. Rachel Lucy also credits her daughters, Allison and Blakely, 8 and 10, respectively.

"Parenting has taught me about being in the present moment and what it means to truly be 'with' another," she said. "It's excellent preparation for health care leadership, where things are complex, deeply interconnected and often unpredictable."

Lucy, 39, co-developed and leads PeaceHealth's Leadership Institute, where she tailors leadership and employee programs that blend development with formation and community building. She has led the redesign of programs, including orientations, to ensure that the identity of Catholic health care, its heritage and ethics of care are carried on for generations.

"This ability to cut to the heart of what people care about is what is unique about Rachel," said Chris Phillips, director of community benefit and advocacy for PeaceHealth. "She has the ability to call on groups (of employees) to realize their own vision and the patience to let them get there on their own."

While working on a doctorate in health care leadership and change, Lucy also serves as chair of the Whatcom County, Wash., Public Health Advisory Board, currently focused on improving the well-being of young children and families.

"Supporting this community-wide focus gives me hope that we can come together as partners to support those that are the most vulnerable," she said.


Michael McQueary
Manager of foundation and advocacy and government relations, Mercy Health, Cincinnati

As an intern in the office of U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor, R-Ohio, and legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, Michael McQueary would listen patiently to the pleas of constituents. When Schmidt lost her re-election bid in 2012, McQueary did an about-face. He took a job with Mercy Health where he advocates on behalf of the most vulnerable populations served by the system.

"Connecting the dots for strategic initiatives with elected officials is what I enjoy most," he said.

McQueary, 34, participated in the successful push to expand Medicaid in Ohio and Kentucky under the Affordable Care Act. In interactions with state and federal elected officials, he advances programs that promote human dignity.

In addition to being a well-connected and skilled advocate, he is an adept charity fundraiser; he led a $1.8 million United Way campaign within Mercy Health and he's helped raise money for Catholic service agencies working in Haiti. Last year he took on a significant role in developing new strategies and reorganizing operations for the Mercy Health Foundation, emphasizing accountability and stewardship of resources. He is working with the foundation's board to implement it.

McQueary is working toward a law degree, attending classes three to four nights a week. "I want to help the mission and ministry in a bigger way," he said. He's been a part of Mercy Health teams with responsibilities related to acquisitions and divestitures. "His can-do attitude and willingness to take on new responsibilities are infectious," said Michael Bezney, Mercy Health's chief legal officer and general counsel.

Miller Jr.

Michael Miller Jr.
Regional chief mission officer, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, Canton, Mich.

Michael Miller was in college and working as a waiter when he first recognized how simple and satisfying it can be to provide a useful service to others. When a customer asked for a cheeseburger, he delivered. "I felt pretty effective as a server, as silly as that sounds," Miller said. "At the same time, my faith was developing. I began to understand that my life needed to be one of service, particularly to the church."

After earning an undergrad philosophy degree and teaching theology in high schools, he earned master's degrees in theology and bioethics. He joined Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health nine years ago as an administrative fellow. A year later, he became director of mission integration for Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, Mich. And, in 2013, having moved to southeast Michigan and a mission leader post, he was named regional mission officer for five hospitals in the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.

In that role, he looks for opportunities to collaborate with local public health departments, and other community health organizations to ensure the best use of regional health resources and support programming that benefits extremely needy populations.

He worked to expand the Prescription for Health program, which counters obesity through nutrition education and by providing stipends that allow low-income patients to purchase produce at farmers markets. Miller, 39, spearheaded efforts to turn vacant Saint Joseph Mercy Health System office space into dental clinics for people who are uninsured or on Medicaid. And he helped establish a clinical pastoral residency program to prepare the system's next generation of professional chaplains.

"He is very good at interpreting a situation and determining the best way to respond, either by modifying our operational processes or working with other organizations to develop a solution," said Sr. Yvonne Gellise, RSM, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System's senior advisor for governance.

Miller's next big goal is "helping people become aware of this great opportunity to serve others in a professional capacity" as a mission leader. "I want to invite others into this exciting career in ministry."


Asha S. Rodriguez
Administrator, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital–Medical Center, San Antonio

Asha Rodriguez has placed a premium on ending racial disparities and on service, which led to her first job as a fifth grade teacher in Washington, D.C., public schools. Luckily for the ministry, health care administration proved to be her true calling.

"I wasn't making large-scale change" as a teacher, she said. "I was helping in the moment, but I knew kids were going back into an environment that I had no control over."

Earning an undergraduate degree in health care management and an MBA from George Mason University, Rodriguez worked in patient advocacy, human resources and performance improvement at hospitals in the Washington, D.C., area. When she completed an administrative fellowship at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital — Westover Hills five years ago, CHRISTUS Health recruited her.

Now 40, Rodriguez was recently promoted to administrator of CHRISTUS Health Santa Rosa Hospital — Medical Center, having worked as its interim administrator. She helped the medical center exceed patient satisfaction and quality targets while also expanding services to earn the job permanently. She now directs operations for the 178-bed hospital, its freestanding emergency center, outpatient rehab clinic, imaging center and transplant institute. (The hospital follows a dyad management system, and she shares leadership responsibilities with Dr. Ian Thompson Jr., its president.)

Corinne R. Francis, system vice president for mission integration and community benefit, said one of Rodriguez' strengths is her ability to include others in decision-making.

Rodriguez said: "My goal is to make work not a transactional experience but a transformational experience for associates, patients and physicians," she said.

Under her leadership, the hospital achieved Primary Stroke Center designation from the American Heart Association, and the freestanding emergency department was designated Acute Stroke Ready by the Joint Commission.

Smith Jr.

Johnny A. Smith Jr.
Senior director of public relations, Ascension, St. Louis

Through his advocacy and media outreach with Ascension, Johnny Smith has increased veterans' awareness that they may be able to get health services outside Veterans Affairs hospitals and closer to home through Ascension's participation in the Veterans Choice Program. Anthony Tersigni, Ascension's president and chief executive, credits Smith's public relations work for raising public awareness of Ascension's efforts to advocate broadly for a continuation of the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which lowers costs by requiring drug manufacturers to provide discounted drugs to eligible health care organizations.

Smith, 37, directs the 30-member Ascension Public Relations Council, whose members are charged with advancing the system's mission, enhancing the brand and promoting its national service lines.

Smith led external communications when Ascension announced transformation of its national structure and local branding identity to better connect its sites of care.

"His role has been vital in stories about our shared mission, commitment to clinical quality (and) service to underserved populations." said Patricia Maryland, president of health care operations and chief operating officer at Ascension Healthcare, a division of Ascension.

Smith has developed stories about Ascension's work to address and eliminate health care disparities. He also volunteers on the leadership council for the United Negro College Fund of St. Louis, and is on boards of the American Lung Association and the Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis.


Will Snyder
System vice president of external affairs, Presence Health, Chicago

After stints at Time Inc., and The Wall Street Journal, Will Snyder and his wife moved to Richmond, Va., so she could earn her doctorate. He took the opportunity to shift from being an objective observer to being a doer intent on community betterment.

"We chose to live in a community that was underserved," he said.

Snyder, now 37, sought out groups actively involved in transforming neighborhoods through the engagement of residents and the promotion of economic initiatives in line with tenets of social justice. In short: "groups that shared my view of reform and empowerment. Catholic health care has been in that space all along," Snyder said. He found a philosophical fit as an advisor to Bon Secours Health System's East End Transformation project in Richmond, where he developed an investment strategy that has funded dozens of small businesses, many minority- or woman-owned, and helped revitalize the area.

Three years ago Snyder went to work for Presence Health. His job includes advocacy, community benefit and community health. Angela Grover, system director of advocacy for Presence Health, said Snyder communicates effectively with government officials, civic and church leaders, community leaders and people from poor and underprivileged areas.

Much of his effort is focused on building healthier, more engaged neighborhoods. To that end, he has worked to steer community benefit dollars into programs that impact social determinants of health.

"His ability to be articulate and find common ground between what Presence Health seeks and what the elected officials need makes him very successful," said Vic Orler, chairman of the board for Presence Health.


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