About Us

Bellwether League Foundation Mission

Launched in July 2007 by a group of influential veterans in the healthcare supply chain industry, Bellwether League Foundation identifies and honors men and women who have demonstrated significant leadership in, influence on and contributions to the healthcare supply chain. Honorees inducted into Bellwether League Foundation’s Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership hail from provider organizations, product manufacturers and distributors, group purchasing organizations, consulting firms, educational institutions and media outlets.

In 2015, Bellwether League launched a second recognition program to honor professionals for their contributions to supply chain operational excellence during the first decade of their careers, called “Future Famers.”

In 2016, Bellwether League launched a third recognition program to honor and recognize the supply chain operations of healthcare provider organizations, ranging from individual hospitals to larger integrated delivery networks. The “Dean S. Ammer Award for Supply Chain Excellence” is named for the first inductee into Bellwether League’s Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership in 2008.

In 2020, Bellwether League transformed the Ammer Award to recognize individuals. The “Dean S. Ammer Award for Healthcare Supply Chain Performance Excellence” now recognizes and honors executives and professionals in the middle of their careers. This recognition award serves as the bridge between the Future Famers at or near the beginning of their careers and the Bellwethers who are honored for their entire career span.

In 2021, Bellwether League became Bellwether League Foundation, finally achieving 501(c)3 nonprofit organization status long sought 14 years after its inception as a 501(c)6 not-for-profit corporation. Among the organizational improvements includes a governing Board of Directors and an operational Advisory Council that will lead the organization into the next phase of its development and growth. Bellwether League Foundation comprises two divisions – the Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership and Bellwether Philanthropy, which will evaluate and award educational scholarships to college-bound and collegiate students, and professional executives seeking ongoing education.

Bellwether League FoundationMotivation

Supply chain management professionals are integral to the successful delivery of high-quality healthcare services and optimal patient care. They achieve this by supplying all of the necessary products and services for doctors and nurses to provide care for patients as well as successfully managing professional relationships with clinicians and suppliers. The supply chain impact on a healthcare organization’s financial performance can be significant, consuming up to 50 percent of a facility’s budget, next to labor. Hence, supply chain professionals, who touch every aspect of healthcare operations, continually must balance clinical, financial and operational needs.

Bellwether League Inc.Vision

“Supply chain professionals can be proud of their role and contribution to the healthcare industry,” said Jamie C. Kowalski, Co-founder and Founding Chairman (2007-2013), Bellwether League Inc. “What they do every day enables and supports the care provided, while it helps maintain the providers’ positive bottom line. Through supply chain performance optimization and innovations, care can be provided at the required level, while operating expenses are reduced and hopefully, minimized. Every dollar saved through the supply chain goes right to the bottom line and the bank account. This provides the operating cash that supports expansion of services and future innovations in care and/or accommodates and helps fund care for those who need it. Not bad for a profession that typically is under the radar.”

Kowalski is a former hospital supply chain manager who became a prominent industry consultant with more than 30 years of experience.

The dictionary defines a bellwether as “a person or thing that assumes the leadership or forefront, as of a profession or industry, and that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.” Bellwether League Inc. strives to locate and profile those leaders who help make healthcare delivery possible.

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“Supply chain professionals represent a critical back-office function that has front line, top line and bottom line implications for the healthcare facility, the clinician and the patient,” said Rick Dana Barlow, Co-founder and Executive Director, Bellwether League Inc. “Supply chain professionals work in a complex environment, serving multiple customers – the hospital and clinician directly, the patient and payer indirectly. They supply the tools necessary for clinicians to provide care for patients and in a cost-effective way that keeps the facility offering the care in continual operation.

“Without their clinical, fiscal and technological knowledge and skills, hospitals and clinicians alike would find it that much more challenging to provide quality healthcare to an increasingly demanding patient population,” Barlow continued. “For that reason alone, supply chain management professionals deserve to be recognized and honored. That’s why we created Bellwether League.”

Barlow is the president of Wingfoot Media Inc., an editorial consulting and content management firm. Barlow has more than 25 years of experience reporting on and writing about the healthcare supply chain industry for a variety of prominent industry media outlets and professional organizations.

“Individuals who have spent much, if not all, of their careers working hard to improve the profession while at the same time they light the way for others defines this group,” said John B. Gaida, Bellwether League Inc. Founding Board Member, Secretary (2010-2012) and Chairman (2013-2016). “Their dedication every day, month, and year to advancing supply chain technologies, reducing costs, and generally taking risks makes them a special breed in this multifaceted profession. Those who have led the way for others should be acknowledged and celebrated. Bellwether League is one way for all of us to recognize those individuals and their many accomplishments. We take pride in not only what we accomplish, but in who we have touched along the way.” Gaida is a veteran hospital and health system supply chain executive who retired at the end of 2016.

Bellwether League Inc. strives to shine a light on the efforts of influencers, innovators, pioneers and risk takers that helped mold and shape the healthcare supply chain profession. Their successes and failures not only promote their leadership qualities but also serve as education, inspiration and motivation for future generations.

“Because of the relative youth of the healthcare supply chain profession, the legacy of the early leaders, both in advocacy and performance, needs to be recognized,” said Patrick E. Carroll Jr., Founding Board Member, Treasurer (2007-2011) and Secretary (2013-2018). “This is not only for the recognition these leaders so richly deserve, but also for the inspiration they have provided, are providing, and will continue provide to the future leaders of the supply chain. Bellwether League will recognize these leaders of the healthcare supply chain for their accomplishments and provide guidance, inspiration and support for tomorrow’s healthcare supply chain leaders to confront the enormous challenges they face.”

Carroll is a former hospital supply chain manager-turned-healthcare industry consultant with more than three decades of experience.

“I am honored to be a part of this organization and hope that it will encourage future generations of supply chain leaders to produce even greater achievements in improving the efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery,” said Robert P. “Bud” Bowen, Founding Board Member and Secretary (2007-2010). Bowen spent the bulk of his career in the group purchasing industry, leading and retiring from one of the largest GPOs.

Board of Directors/Officers

Board members and Officers represent active and retired executives and professionals from all facets of the healthcare supply chain management industry. They serve one-year terms and may be re-elected.


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Jamie C. Kowalski

Jamie C. Kowalski
(Bellwether Class of 2017)
(Co-Founder & Founding Chair 2007-13)

Retired CEO
Jamie C. Kowalski Consulting LLC
Milwaukee, WI

Jamie C. Kowalski

Barbara Strain
(Bellwether Class of 2021)

Rick Dand Barlow

Rick Barlow

Wingfoot Media Inc.
Schaumburg, IL

Deborah Templeton, R.Ph.

Deborah Templeton, R.Ph.
Chairman Emeritus

Retired Chief, System Support Services
Geisinger Health System
Danville, PA

Advisory Council

Advisory Council members represent active and retired executives and professionals from all facets of the healthcare supply chain management industry. They are appointed by the Board for one-year terms and may serve more than a single term.


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Ryan Burke

Ryan Burke
(Future Famers Class of 2022)

Vice President, Strategic Sourcing
Pandion Optimization Alliance
Rochester, NY


Fred Crans
(Bellwether Class of 2020)

Business Development Executive, Healthcare
St. Onge Co


Jake Groenwold
(Bellwether Class of 2021)

Chief Supply Chain Officer and Senior Vice President,
Supply Chain Froedtert Health
Milwaukee, WI


Jack Koczela
(Future Famer of 2020)

Director of Analytics & Transformation, Supply Chain
Froedtert Health
Milwaukee, WI


Mike Langlois

Healthcare Supply Chain Resource
Langlois & Associates LLC


Tom Lubotsky
(Bellwether Class of 2022)

Vice President, Supply Chain
Allina Health
Minneapolis, MN


Carl Meyer
(Bellwether Class of 2019)

Executive Vice President
The Wetrich Group


Gary Rakes
(Bellwether Class of 2021)

Retired Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer
Aspirus Inc.

Donna Van Vlerah

Donna Van Vlerah
(Ammer Honoree 2021)
(Future Famers Class of 2015)

Senior Vice President
Supply & Support Services, Support Division
Parkview Health
Fort Wayne, IN

Mark Van Sumeren

Mark Van Sumeren
(Bellwether Class of 2011)

Managing Director
Health Industry Advisor LLC
Ann Arbor, MI


Bellwether League Foundation comprises two divisions, each overseen by an administrator.


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Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership

Rick Dand Barlow

Rick Dana Barlow
(Co-Founder and Executive Director)

Wingfoot Media Inc.
Schaumburg, IL

Bellwether Philanthropy

Mark A. Van Sumeren

Mark A. Van Sumeren
(Bellwether Class of 2021)

Managing Director
Health Industry Advisor LLC
Ann Arbor, Mi