25 Top Female Leaders Reform the Healthcare Industry

The diversity of thought is a critical factor in a creative, vibrant, thriving workplace. Therefore, except for male leaders, women's leadership is indispensable in an organization.
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Gender equity is imperative to the attainment of healthy lives, wellbeing of all and promoting gender equity is also an important mission in the health sector as well as other industries. However, in order to complete that mission, most women leaders must make a lot of effort to increase leadership and further health system resilience, system responsiveness. Who are typical leaders in the health sector?  Those are just the top healthcare female leaders following.

#1. Nancy Howell Agee – President and CEO, Carilion Clinic

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Besides being a chair of the American Hospital Association’s board of trustees which is a membership organization representing the nation’s 5,000 hospitals and health care systems. Agee was a leading voice in her home state of Virginia for expanding Medicaid. In order to become fully part of Virginia Tech, she oversaw the integration of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Agee has been a mentor of women leaders inside and outside of Carilion in the long run which has a half of the leadership team is female.

Especially, a nearly $2 billion not-for-profit integrated health system by the name of Carilion Clinic is led by Nancy Howell Agee in the capacity of president and chief executive officer. It is located in Roanoke, Virginia which serves more than 1 million people in Virginia and West Virginia.

Before taking up the post of CEO in 2011, she used to be executive vice president and chief operating officer. She co-led Carilion’s reorganization from a collection of hospitals to a fully integrated, physician-led clinic during her tenure that established a partnership with Virginia Tech to build an allopathic medical school and research institute.

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Image Credit: Carilion Clinic

#2. Madeline Bell – President and CEO, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

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Ms. Bell partook in organizations such as the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in the position of Deputy Chair Board of Directors, boards of Comcast-NBCUniversal, the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, Solutions for Patient Safety, and the executive committee of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and The Economic Club of New York.

Besides being one of Modern Healthcare’s “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Industry Icon and the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO are awards that she has received.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is one of the top-ranked children’s hospitals in the United States led by Madeline Bell as president and CEO in 2015. Most CHOP’s workforce is female, and Bell is one of them who has championed a number of career development programs, including the creation of the employee-based Women’s Resource Group.

Ms. Bell is a bold and visionary leader who always changes with empathy and integrity. With a design to create breakthroughs that have a worldwide impact, she used to inspire the 16,000 employees in the hospital’s $3.2-billion-a-year health system and research institute.

In CHOP, she started with the position of the nurse in 1983. She left the organization to move into hospital administration and returned to CHOP in 1995. Ever since, Bell assumed leadership positions such as vice president, senior vice president, executive vice president as well as chief operating officer.

CHOP was so much developing through Bell’s contributions including the development of one of the largest pediatric ambulatory care networks in the country, the expansion of the hospital’s 4-million-square-foot campus, and more nationally recognized clinical care programs.

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Image Credit: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

#3. Mary Boosalis – President and CEO, Premier Health

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Mary received a bachelor’s degree in nursing, from California State University at Fresno and a master’s degree in health services administration, from Arizona State University. In 1986, she came into the health system and served in progressively expanded leadership roles throughout her career.

Boosalis leads Premier Health as the president and CEO who has also pushed the Premier Health to address the opioid epidemic, including trying to combat stereotypes and stigmas surrounding the crisis. Some contributions she did such as the development of the campus visional strategy; execution for Miami Valley Hospital South which continues to expand and has garnered the largest annual market share growth for Premier Health; completion of the new vision for Miami Valley Hospital main campus and construction of the Heart and Vascular Tower. etc.

In the health system’s 23-year history, Boosailis is the Premier’s first female CEO. Since then the percentage of female vice presidents increased from 52% in 2014 to 60% in 2018.

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Image Credit: Premier Health

#4. Debra Canales – Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Providence St. Joseph Health

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She is recognized as a critical thought leader by internal and external stakeholders. With the passion, courage, truthfulness, she pledged to bring wholeness and sustainable health into the world.

In 2014, Deb Canales serves as executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Providence St. Joseph Health. She is in charge of human resources, communications, community partnerships, namely federal/state advocacy, international program, environmental services, community ministry, and foundation boards.

When arriving at Providence St. Joseph Health, one of Canales’ focal points have been improving provider engagement. In 2017, her efforts bring significant results when the system found better engagement scores and lower turnover. Then Canales began new programs to address work-life balance and led a NotHere and MeToo campaign.

For about a decade, prior to joining Providence, Deb served CHE Trinity Health, most recently as executive vice president and chief administrative officer. During her tenure, she has changed the organization significantly which created synergy across a geographically and operationally diverse system in 21 states.

Throughout her 25 years, she worked in the field of human resources in a range of global Fortune 500 organizations, including Hewlett Packard/Compaq Computer Corporation, Yum Brands/PepsiCo, R.H. Macy’s Inc., and Centura Health. She is recognized as a nationwide leader and was named a “Healthcare Executive to Watch” by Modern Healthcare in·2016.

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Image Credit: Providence St. Joseph Health

#5. Dr. Mandy Cohen – Secretary, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

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Dr. Mandy Cohen is graduated from Cornell University, received a medical degree from Yale School of Medicine and a Master’s in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. She trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. In January 2017, Dr. Mandy Cohen is named for Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

In order to improve the health, safety, and well-being of all North Carolinians, Cohen and her team tried their best to work well. They concentrate on building a strong, efficient Medicaid program to improve early childhood health, safety and education and combatting the opioid crisis.

The Growth of New Unicorns makes Dr. Mandy Cohen realize that work must be done beyond the scope of the hospital. She starts being interested in health policy issues. At that time, there were not many doctors shaping policy. Therefore, she starts to connect the world of clinical medicine and health policy. Under Cohen’s leadership and efforts, the system extends is transformed to her department, it has enacted a mentoring program to help place women employees in positions where they can grow; women make up 42% of her leadership team. 2019 Is Higher Than Previous Years.

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Image Credit: North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

#6. Tina Freese Decker – President and CEO, Spectrum Health

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Freese Decker has received a Bachelor of Science in finance, a Master of Health Administration and a Master of Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University. In addition, she has won several awards including Modern Healthcare’s 2019 Top 25 Women Leaders; Crain’s Detroit Business’ 2019 Health Care Heroes, 2018 Most Notable Women in Health Care and Managed Healthcare Executive’s 10 Emerging Healthcare Industry Leaders 2018.

In September 2018, during tenure as COO, Freese Decker oversaw a $300 million care redesign and EHR implementation. Before, she assumed the role of director of planning and later executive vice president and COO propelled Freese Decker to the role of CEO of the Grand Rapids, Mich. She has increased in the number of women in leadership by adding five women to C-suite positions.

Tina Freese Decker takes over as the President & Chief Executive Officer in Spectrum Health which is a $6.9 billion, nationally recognized health system with a medical group, health plan and 14 hospitals employing 31,000 individuals in Southwest and West Michigan.

In the process of working with the Spectrum Health, she has developed a track record for cultivating culture and driving strategy to various roles of strategies and operation. She is committed to building a health system that celebrates and reinforces diversity and inclusion for employees, patients, families, and members.

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Image Credit: Spectrum Health

#7. Cynthia Hundorfean – President and CEO, Allegheny Health Network

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Cynthia Hundorfean received her Executive MBA from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management from David N. Myers College.

In 2016, the Pennsylvania system was losing $40 million per year. However, Hundorfean arrived and made a turnaround plan which was profitable within a year, with three straight positive quarters in 2018. Besides, she launched a $1 billion capital expansion campaign, hired female executives. She takes part in local mentoring programs for women as well as the Women’s Health Activist Movement which is a Pittsburgh-based advocacy group.

Cynthia Hundorfean assumed her position as CEO and president for Allegheny Health Network which is a nine-hospital, $3.5 billion health care system based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2016, her extraordinary efforts help AHN which has more than 21,000 employees and serves as the provider arm of Highmark Health recognized both regionally and nationally. She was honored for the significant organizational transformation when leading at AHN.

Cynthia Hundorfean not only serves in her community but also in the health care industry. She works at the board of directors of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania. Furthermore, she is both a member of the Medical Group Management Association and is an editorial advisor to Managed Healthcare Executive magazine.

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Image Credit: Allegheny Health Network

#8. Laura Kaiser – President and CEO, SSM Health Care

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Laura S. Kaiser earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Missouri, a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Healthcare Administration from Saint Louis University. In 2018 and 2019, she was voted one of the “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare magazine.

Not only called a wonderful strategy planner for tackling the opioid crisis and making the system bigger, but Laura Kaiser is also known as a fighter for women’s rights as well. In detail, she is the Women’s Leadership Institute ‘s founding member, which gives women a chance to develop their leadership and better themselves.

Especially, in May 2017, Laura S. Kaiser becomes a President/Chief Executive Officer of SSM Health which includes 23 hospitals, more than 290 physician offices, and other outpatient and virtual care services, 10 post-acute facilities, comprehensive home care, and hospice services, a pharmacy benefit company, a health insurance company and an accountable care organization.

As President/Chief Executive Officer of SSM Health, Laura S. Kaiser, FACHE, leads a Catholic not-for-profit health system serving communities across the Midwest through a robust and fully integrated health care delivery system. Headquartered in St. Louis, SSM Health includes 23 hospitals, more than 290 physician offices, and other outpatient and virtual care services, 10 post-acute facilities, comprehensive home care, and hospice services, a pharmacy benefit company, a health insurance company and an accountable care organization. The nearly 40,000 employees and 11,000 providers at SSM Health are committed to delivering exceptional health care services and revealing God’s healing presence to everyone they serve.

With more than 30 years of experience in health care, she improved clinical quality, spurred innovation, managed operational performance and growth, led change management and successfully facilitated health care integration for this organization.

In the former time, she used to be Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, UT. Currently, she serves on several boards such as the Catholic Health Association, Nuance Communications, the Scottsdale Institute as well as is a member of the American Hospital Association Systems Council, the Healthcare Leadership Council, and the St. Louis Regional Business Council.

“As the leader of a faith-based healthcare system, I remain committed to serving the most vulnerable. I believe that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.”

Laura Kaiser

“The industry is being disrupted by new entrants, partnerships and technology. We welcome the new entrants and are actively establishing partnerships, choosing to lean in and lead the change.”

Laura Kaiser

“Throughout my career, diversity and inclusion have been key principles, which include developing and promoting talented women to leadership roles.”

Laura Kaiser

“That focus continues today on a broader scale at SSM Health, where we’ve always strongly valued the benefits of a diverse workforce.”

Laura Kaiser
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Image Credit: SSM Health Care

#9. Dr. Anne Klibanski – Chief Academic Officer, Partners HealthCare System

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Dr. Klibanski received her B.A., magna cum laude with honors in literature from Barnard College and her M.D. from New York University Medical Center. Besides, she is also the Laurie Carrol Guthart Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Academic Dean for Partners at Harvard Medical School. She is one of the members of the Association of American Physicians and the American Society of Clinical Investigation, etc.

Klibanski manages $1.7 billion in annual research funding at the Boston-based system. She spearheaded an effort that will save $10 million annually in radiology programs and also created a funding effort for one of the nation’s largest biobanks. On the other hand, child care is an issue, she helped women researchers stay in the field by generating a scholarship program at Massachusetts General Hospital. She used to train more than 50 post-doctoral fellows, most of whom are women.

Dr. Klibanski is the first female President and Chief Executive Officer of Partners HealthCare which is the state’s largest private employer with 75,000 employees. In order to check a range of crucial strategic and operational issues at Partners, she oversaw several major initiatives including Partners 2.0 and several high-level board task forces when taking over this position.

“In recent months members from hospital boards across the system have started to work together in a way we have not seen before at Partners. I am honored to have the opportunity to realize the full potential we have to transform health care and make it better for patients and families everywhere.”

Anne Klibanski
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Image Credit: Partners HealthCare System

#10. Kathy Lancaster – Executive vice president and chief financial officer, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals

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Kaiser Lancaster not only aligns financial operations across Kaiser’s vast network but also manages a $4.4 billion bond issuance used to help finance a long-term capital plan, including $1 billion in green bonds. The health system will be carbon-neutral by 2020 because she orchestrated a deal with energy providers. Furthermore, Kaiser’s expansion of clinics in California Target stores is managed by Lancaster who is a sponsor of Kaiser’s Finance & Shared Services Women in the Leadership program.

In 1998, Kathy Lancaster leads Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals as senior vice president and chief financial officer. With 24 years of experience in the health care industry, she worked collaboratively with the organization’s medical groups, labor interests, and operations to further key financial strategies of the integrated health plan in this period. Also, she supported senior executives in the development and implementation of national strategies and worked out the business plan as well as managed overall performance.

“I’m extremely honored to have the opportunity to support Kaiser Permanente as the chief financial officer”. “This is an exciting time for our organization. We have a strong financial position and are embarking on several key initiatives that will strengthen the organization, including enhancing our financial infrastructure to better support Kaiser Permanente in the future.”

Kathy Lancaster
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Image Credit: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals

#11. Karen Lynch – Executive vice president, CVS Health

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Lynch received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Boston College and an MBA from Boston University. In 2015, she got an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

With the aim to make the practice’s price more affordable, Karen Lynch has spent her precious time and efforts realizing that aim. Besides, she has increased 8% of Medicare Advantage membership and premiums. Moreover, Lynch commits to giving women the best experience while they decide to change their lives.

“I’d like to be thought of as an innovator and leader in creating a holistic health system.”

Karen Lynch

“I am committed to ensuring that others don’t experience gender or any other form of bias and are assessed based on the skills they bring to the table. I believe in the importance of championing women as the key contributors and decisionmakers they are.”

Karen Lynch

Especially, Karen S. Lynch is Executive Vice President, CVS Health and President of the Aetna Business Unit. With nearly three decades of experience in the health care industry that she accumulated prior to coming into the CVS Health, she was in charge of driving the CVS Health strategy to deliver consumer-focused, high-value healthcare to the nearly 45 million people that Aetna serves.

Furthermore, she is one of a members of organizations such as a director of U.S. Bancorp, a trustee of The Bushnell Performing Arts Cente, a member of the Global 50 and the Boston College Women’s Council, an advisory board member of IBM Watson Health and NEADS/Dogs, etc.

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Image Credit: CVS Health

#12. Patricia Maryland – President and CEO, Ascension Healthcare

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Dr. Maryland got a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Alabama State University, Montgomery, and a master’s degree in biostatistics from the University of California, Berkeley. She received a Doctor of Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh, concentrating in health services administration and planning.

Patricia A. Maryland, Dr.PH, is Executive Vice President, Ascension, and President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension Healthcare. Ascension’s expansive care settings including 2,600 sites in 21 states are supervised by Maryland. She innovated the health system by focusing on population health and took the lead in social determinants. Maryland has pushed the organization to go further into virtual care and created programs to advance diversity within the workforce, as well as grow the Ascension Leader Institute’s mentoring efforts.

Dr. Maryland has much experience in planning strategies, patient care operations, service line management, finance, clinical program development, and evaluation. In order to enhance the pediatric subspecialty services, she supported to create six Centers of Excellence and developed an agreement with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center at St. Vincent Health Hospital.

Other organizations she used to be a member including President of Sinai-Grace Hospital, Senior Vice President of Detroit Medical Center, Executive Vice President / Chief Operating Officer at North Oakland Medical Centers, Pontiac, Michigan, and Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

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Image Credit: Ascension Healthcare

#13. Dr. Barbara McAneny – President, American Medical Association

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In 1973, Dr. McAneny graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota and with honors from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1977.

As the current president of the American Medical Association, McAneny has served on the influential physician group’s board since 2010. As founder and CEO of the New Mexico Cancer Center, she has led the way in implementing alternative payment models for a coalition of cancer care providers. She builds a new care model and helps practices comply with MACRA by using a Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation grant. Furthermore, she is a founding member and current board chair of the National Cancer Care Alliance.

In June 2018, Barbara L. McAneny became the 173rd president of the American Medical Association. Some other positions that she used to assumed including a former member of the board of directors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), a past president of the New Mexico Medical Society (NMMS), the Greater Albuquerque Medical Association, the New Mexico chapter of the American College of Physicians, etc.

In order to improve practice sustainability, she begins considering the use of data when she was appointed to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service’s Practicing Physicians Advisory Council. In 2012 she received a $19.8 million grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation to demonstrate how oncology practices could use triage pathways to dramatically lower costs while improving outcomes.

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Image Credit: American Medical Association

#14. Dr. Redonda Miller – President, Johns Hopkins Hospital

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She joined the medical faculty in 1997 and got a master’s degree in business administration from The Johns Hopkins University in 2004. From that, she was in charge of several administrative roles such as vice chair of clinical operations for the Department of Medicine and senior vice president of medical affairs for the Johns Hopkins Health System.   

In 2016, Miller has orchestrated the creation of care-coordination bundles, worked with the chief medical officer to significantly reduce the prescribing of opioids and increase prescribing of naloxone since she started being president of the Baltimore hospital. Besides supervising the launch of a high-value care committee, advanced policies to bolster employee engagement and patient satisfaction, she also retooled the executive ranks such as more gender diversity, namely member leadership team has seven women of all.

Redonda Miller takes the position of president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital which has 1,100-bed academic medical centers with $2.5 billion in operating revenue and more than 10,000 employees. She was appointed in 2016 and led successful efforts to expand the world-renowned hospital’s focus on high-value care, improve safety, patient experience and the health of all populations.

During Dr. Miller’s tenure, The Johns Hopkins Hospital has been consistently recognized for clinical excellence, namely one of three hospitals in the nation on the U.S. News and World Report Honor Roll, fourth consecutive nursing Magnet designation, etc.

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Image Credit: Johns Hopkins Hospital

#15. Dr. Janice Nevin – President and CEO, Christiana Care Health System

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Dr. Nevin graduated from Harvard University and earned her medical degree with honors from Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. She fulfilled her family medicine residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and her Master of Public Health degree at the University of Pittsburgh.

She is the visionary and collaborative president and CEO of the ChristianaCare Health System. Nevin manages the expansion of Christiana’s access points such as the virtual care and leads internal efforts to focus on health and wellness, namely launching a Center for Provider Wellbeing to help address clinician burnout.

As a leader of the largest health system in Delaware, Dr. Nevin is leading value-based care and a transformation from a health care system to a system that truly impacts health. She is nationally recognized for innovation in patient- and family-centered care and population health.

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Image Credit: Christiana Care Health System

#16. Amy Perry – CEO, Hospital Division, Atlantic Health System

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Amy got a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Minnesota, and her Master of Science degree in Health Services Administration from Barry University in Miami. She is a strategic leader who is experienced in finance and operations, clinical quality and academic medicine, and health policy and governance. She concentrates on driving patient-centered care by identifying opportunities for growth and innovation.

In 2018, Perry aligned the New Jersey health system’s strategic and financial priorities. She added urgent-care centers and other healthcare access points by copartner with MedExpress. She is a key executive on the Health Transformation Consortium who brings employees of multiple New Jersey health systems together under one insurance plan to reduce administrative costs and promote female executives at Atlantic Health hospitals.

Amy manages Atlantic Health System’s seven hospitals which have Morristown Medical Center with nationally recognized programs and are currently ranked the top hospital in New Jersey by U.S. & World Report. In the former time, she is executive vice president of LifeBridge Health and president of Sinai Hospital which is an innovation hub contributing to the growth of Maryland’s regional biotech community.

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Image Credit: Atlantic Health System

#17. Candice Saunders – President and CEO, WellStar Health System

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Saunders got a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of South Florida and an MBA/MHA from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

In 2007, Saunders started her career at WellStar at the position as president of the system’s flagship hospital in Marietta, Ga. and became chief executive in 2015. At present times, a system including 11 hospitals and more than 250 other care sites are led by Saunders. Over the past year, she improves performance by allowing employees to generate revenue, reduce costs and improve performance on their ways. She is the health system’s first female CEO working to elevate female executives.

WellStar has been recognized as a leader in safety and quality measures thanking Candice’s leadership. She is named Healthcare Champion by The National Association for Female Executives. She used to joint including the Georgia Hospital Association and is one of only 14 women receive a Women of Excellence award in 2015 and the only woman in healthcare.

“We have a responsibility to our community to be here when they need us.”

Candice Saunders

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Image Credit: WellStar Health System

#18. Ninfa Saunders – President and CEO, Navicent Health

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At present, Ninfa Saunders is the President and CEO of Navicent Health which is a nonprofit corporation coordinating its affiliated entities in their mission of providing a comprehensive range of high-quality reasonably priced healthcare services to Georgians. Her work is overseeing the operations of The Medical Center, Navicent Health, Navicent Health Foundation, Rehabilitation Hospital, etc.

Before returning to Georgia, she was the President and COO of Virtua Health which is the largest health system in southern New Jersey and operates four hospitals, two rehabilitation centers, senior services, home care, ambulatory and outpatient services.

Some organizations that she used to join including the Governor’s Georgia Cancer Coalition, the Dekalb Medical Center in Decatur, Emory University Hospital, Riley Memorial Hospital in Meridian, etc.

Besides, “is gender equality a problem?”. “That itself is not only a problem but also a crime in modern society.” You may get that answer if you ask Ninfa Saunders the beginning question. Therefore, she makes her great efforts to reduce the distance between present gender equity and future one which should be 50-50 as the perfect ratio of nature. Furthermore, she has achieved considerable accomplishments such as expand Navicent’s reach in Georgia and more.

“Gender equality is the end goal, that’s where we need to be.”

Ninfa Saunders

“I’m very committed to bridging the gap between equity and equality and being a mentor to many. If people can see more women executives exceeding expectations, conscious and unconscious bias can be reconciled.”

Ninfa Saunders
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Image Credit: Navicent Health

#19. Dr. Joanne Smith – President and CEO, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

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Dr. Smith earned a BS, cum laude, from Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., an MD degree, with Alpha Omega Alpha distinction, from Michigan State University, and is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which honored her with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008.

Smith oversaw the construction of the rehab hospital’s new state-of-the-art facility, which blends clinical and research capabilities. To measures a patient’s progress in recovery and the cost of care, she created a unique data-capture program. Last year, Smith won the Women of Concern Humanitarian Award, alongside former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

In 2006, Joanne C. Smith is a visionary President and Chief Executive Officer of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab which has more than 50% of the leadership team is female. She has managed this organization with its mission to provide the best patient outcomes through the highest-quality clinical care, translational research, scientific discovery, and education.

Under Dr. Smith’s leadership, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is recognized as the leader in physical medicine and rehabilitation for adults and children with the most severe, complex conditions. She has expanded its scale that serves more than 50,000 patients annually from around the world.

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Image Credit: Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

#20. Johnese Spisso – President, UCLA Health

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Johnese Spisso has earned her master’s degree in health care administration and public administration from the University of San Francisco. Also, She received her nursing degree at the St. Francis School of Nursing. She is nationally recognized as an academic healthcare leader with more than 30 years of experience.

In 2016, Spisso is the president of UCLA Health and CEO of UCLA and Associate Vice Chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences. She manages all operations of UCLA’s hospitals and clinics and the health system’s regional outreach strategy. Besides, she redesigned care and improved coordination across all disciplines in this organization. In 2019, she concentrates on innovating the goal of advancing biomedical science and patient well-being improvement.

Prior to taking part in UCLA, she had worked at UW Medicine, in Seattle, Washington for 20 years as chief health system officer and vice president of medical affairs for the University of Washington. She cooperated with regional hospitals to merge two major community hospitals into UW Medicine. She also supported to lead the development of a statewide trauma system.

Furthermore, she used to contribute to some organizations such as UC Davis Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian, etc. She has also published several articles and book chapters on healthcare leadership.

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Image Credit: UCLA Health

#21. Paula Steiner – President and CEO, Health Care Service Corp

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Steiner oversees Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. HCSC moved from financial losses to financial growth that thanks to her leadership. In order to help patients, manage their illnesses, she launched a more personalized approach that results in a 93% rate of interaction with high-cost patients. In addition, she sponsors an innovation incubator internally to get staff to think differently about problem-solving. Steiner works strictly with the chief diversity officer to make sure HCSC promotes diversity organization-wide.

Paula Steiner takes up the president and CEO of Health Care Service Corp. It is the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth-largest health insurer overall. She stabilized the company’s presence in the Affordable Care Act exchange market and continued its expansion into the Medicare and Medicaid programs. She has worked at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield system for 35 years. Also, she led HCSC and 16 million members by changing industry significantly, diversifying and developing steadily.

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Image Credit: Health Care Service Corp.

#22. Pamela Sutton-Wallace – CEO, University of Virginia Medical Center

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To Sutton-Wallace, healthcare is not her favorite aspect, it’s her fate. She doesn’t want to have a career in political science while she still wants to influence policy, so she chooses a combination of them -healthcare policy for further career. Furthermore, she always desires to offer women a chance to be a leader in general, and in healthcare fields in particular. Whatever happens, Sutton-Wallace will never stop while she still believes.

In July 2014, Sutton-Wallace used to be UVA Medical Center’s chief executive officer. She has served as a trusted partner and changed how care is provided at UVA. Her efforts made UVA become the No. 1 hospital in Virginia, as recognized by U.S. News & World Report. Besides, she tried to drive transformations in health care policy through her service on the boards of the National Association of Health Services Executives and the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.”

“My unique style and background help make me be a better administrator, leader, and listener who is able to listen to a diversity of viewpoints and integrate them into a new and innovative way of doing things,” she said.

Pamela Sutton-Wallace

“I get to reflect on what the needs of women are and support future leaders. Leadership should not only reflect the community that it’s serving, but it should also reflect the workforce that’s supporting it,” she said.

Pamela Sutton-Wallace

“I hope the next generation knows they bring value to the table, that they speak courageously and relentlessly and without apology.”

Pamela Sutton-Wallace
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Image Credit: University of Virginia Medical Center

#23. Susan Sweeney – President and head, U.S. Commercial, Bristol-Myers Squibb

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Image Credit: EnvZone

Sweeney got an MPH in Public Health from Columbia University and a BA from Gettysburg College. She is recognized as a leading biopharmaceutical executive, Top 25 Women Leaders, Fiercest Women in Life Sciences thanking her history of product growth and success paired with a passion.

Sweeney leads Bristol-Myers Squibb’s biopharma division, which generates 60% of the company’s business, totaling nearly $12 billion and oversees the growth of key drugs such as blood thinners and antipsychotic medications. She not only advocates for real-world data and its application in drug development but also joints the company’s Network of Women program.

Recently, Sweeney was appointed to the head of U.S. commercial ops at BMS as VP of Bristol’s U.S. cardiovascular business unit. She helped blood thinner Eliquis go from laggard to leader in the next-gen oral anticoagulant market. She also built a legacy of industry leadership over nearly 24 years and drove sustained growth for many of the company’s most successful medicines.

In 2019, She joined Amgen as senior vice president for Global Product Strategy & Commercial Innovation. She was in charge of offering commercial leadership for Amgen products at all stages of the product lifecycle to maximize value across the portfolio. Furthermore, Sweeney will make sure that commercial understanding translates into global product strategies and enhance commercial innovative capabilities, including “beyond the drug” solutions for improving patient and customer experience.

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Image Credit: U.S. Commercial, Bristol-Myers Squibb

#24. Seema Verma – Administrator, CMS

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Image Credit: EnvZone

Ms. Verma has earned her master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in health policy and management from Johns Hopkins University and her Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from the University of Maryland.

In 2016, Seema Verma has nominated as the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by President Trump. She oversees one of the largest federal agencies that administer vital healthcare programs to over 100 million Americans. Then, CMS has pursued several new policy initiatives such as issuing guidance to states on what it would take to get a waiver approved, which has happened for seven states so far at Verma’s discretion. She has also taken the lead in the agency’s push for hospital price transparency and modifications to alternative pay models.

Prior to taking part in the CMS, she was the President, CEO, and founder of SVC, Inc., which is a national health policy consulting company. She worked with Governor’s offices, State Medicaid agencies, State Health Departments, State Departments of Insurance, as well as the federal government, private companies and foundations for 20 years.

Seema Verm has assumed several important positions in organizations such as the architect role in the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), the State of Indiana’s health reform lead, Vice President of Planning for the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County in Indiana and a Director with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) in Washington D.C., etc.

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Image Credit: CMS

#25. Andrea Walsh – President and CEO, HealthPartners

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Image Credit: EnvZone

Andrea Walsh has graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and the University of Kansas. In 2017, Walsh got the top job at the Bloomington, Minn.-based health system. She has also been part of the senior leadership team for more than 20 years. During the process of working, Walsh has been passionate about health and promised to make a difference in people’s lives.

Andrea Walsh is president and chief executive officer for Minnesota-based HealthPartners and Western Wisconsin, which is the largest, consumer-governed, nonprofit health care organization in the nation. It has a care delivery system with a multi-specialty group practice of 1,800 physicians, a dental practice including 80 dentists, eight hospitals, top-rated medical and dental health plans, and the HealthPartners Institute which leads research and educational training for the system.

For this organization, Walsh has expanded HealthPartners’ reach into the community since taking the helm. The achieved results are an increase of 300,000 patients and 10% on health plan membership. Roughly 30% of HealthPartners’ physician leaders are female.

Before appointed as president and CEO in 2017, she used to be part of the HealthPartners senior executive team, executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Furthermore, she was a lawyer and an assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health prior to joining HealthPartners.

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Image Credit: HealthPartners


After viewing information of the top 25 women leaders in the health sector, you may understand their importance in leadership. What have you learned from them? I strongly believe that If you were a woman, you would want to become a leader in your industries. If true, you need to put more effort to face unexpected difficulty. Do not hesitate to share your problem with us. We are always available to assist you.

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  • About: Linda Au
    Linda Au joins EnvZone as a Market Strategy Analyst to be in charge of working with clients in the industries of ecommerce, retail, financial services to real estate and property.…