How long have you been a part of ACHE?
I have been a member of ACHE for more than 30 years!
With such a long history with ACHE, can you share one of the most memorable moments thus far?
I think qualifying, studying for, and successfully obtaining my FACHE designation while at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (UTMDACC) was hugely impactful for me. The opportunity required time in management, conducting a meaningful project, and passing the exam. It provided tangible recognition that my career path from the clinical laboratory field into executive healthcare management was not only possible, but successful! Plus I am forever grateful for the mentorship and encouragement that I have received from my fellow ACHE Members.
Please tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are now.
I am originally from Moline, Illinois, most famously known as the farm implement capital of the world, with John Deere, Caterpillar and International Harvester all headquartered there at the time. My undergraduate degree is a B.S. in medical technology from Augustana College, and I worked in medical laboratories for the first decade of my career, moving up into a Laboratory Director position in Moline. I received my M.A. degree in healthcare management from Central Michigan University before we moved to Houston in 1986, where I became the Laboratory Administrator at UTMDACC. I was at UTMDACC for fourteen years, moving up into physician practice and then the AVP over ambulatory clinic management and the ancillaries. While at UTMDACC, I completed my Doctorate in Public Health (Dr.P.H.) at the University of Texas School of Public Health. I left in 2000 to go to Emory University for six years to establish a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center there, a successful venture now called the Winship Cancer Institute. Since coming back to Houston, I have been the VP of Service Lines at the University of Texas Medical Branch during the post Hurricane Harvey recovery period, as well as the administrator over a variety of areas at The Methodist Hospital (Texas Medical Center) including Heart and Vascular, Neurosurgery, and Cancer.
What is the best piece of advice you received during your impressive career?
It is very important to give back to your community, however you define it, with servant leadership. That is why I am so honored to be given the opportunity to help lead the ACHE SETC during these trying times. With your help, we as an organization will come through the pandemic even stronger and more relevant than before!
What do you enjoy in your free time?
Free time is for family and for travel. My husband, Jeff, and I have three adult children and five grandchildren, so there is always something fun going on. We live on an acre towards Tomball, and we enjoy growing fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as tending a large rose garden. I also am the faculty sponsor for the MHA Study Abroad Program, and we have taken students to Sweden, Germany, Estonia, Switzerland and Canada.
What would you consider a defining moment in your career?
I have always liked to mentor and to develop people to their highest potential. After doing both, as a part of my healthcare career and as an adjunct and guest lecturer in various programs, I decided to leave full time work in clinical operations (except occasional consulting) in 2015 to work full time in graduate education, instead of whenever I could work it into my busy schedule. For me, this is an “encore career” that builds on what I liked best about working in the healthcare field. I was recently tenured and promoted to Associate Professor and Executive in Residence in the Masters in Healthcare Administration (MHA) at Texas Woman’s University in the College of Business.
What would be one piece of career advice you would share with an early careerist?
Make the most out of every opportunity that comes your way, no matter what your current position involves. If there is a project or a problem in the organization, volunteer to be on the group that is going to resolve it. It may require extra work, but you will enlarge your network and increase your visibility as well as your capabilities.
-Interview by Laura Gomez