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Bellwether League, Inc. Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership welcomes new Board officers with familiar faces in relay race to October event

SCHAUMBURG, IL (May 17, 2023) — Bellwether League Foundation (BLF) announced two new Board officers with familiar faces and names as the organization prepares for its 16th annual induction and recognition event this October.

Barbara Strain, Bellwether Class of 2021, was elected chairman of the Board, and former Chairman Deborah Templeton, R.Ph., was elected secretary. Rick Barlow continues as treasurer and executive director.

Strain started in January as Board secretary while Templeton served as ex-officio chairman emeritus in recognition of her two years of service as chairman during which BLF transitioned to a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization from a 501(6) not-for-profit corporation. Both assumed their new roles with the retirement of Co-Founder Jamie Kowalski who had returned as chairman back in January.

Strain expressed excitement and exuded energy at assuming the Chairman's office after a short, whirlwind stint as Board secretary.

"Serving on the Bellwether Board of Directors as its secretary has brought an even deeper understanding of the role that the Foundation can play in educating and enhancing healthcare supply chain," Strain said. "As Jamie Kowalski retires from the Board, I will continue to aspire to his legacy to support and guide the BLF as its Chairman on its strategic journey to highlight the individuals who have brought healthcare supply chain into this millennium and who will influence the trajectory of the profession into the decades ahead."

Strain acknowledges that ongoing development and growth may be a challenge this year amid economic jitters but knows that the profession and industry recognize BLF's valuable contributions advancing, educating, honoring and supporting those who make a difference.

"In addition to working with our dedicated committee volunteers in planning the BLF live and in-person special events to take place October 2 at Marquette University in Milwaukee, the Board and I will continue to work with the Advisory Council to develop educational opportunities across the supply chain continuum from students and instructors to healthcare provider, distributor, manufacturer and group purchasing organization (GPO) professionals as well as make new collaborations with healthcare-focused professional organizations."

Strain emphasized the importance of BLF's role in the industry and profession.

"Bellwether League goes beyond an honor society based on specific criteria and accomplishments," she said. "It has established a healthcare supply chain professional development role through the collaborations of providers, suppliers and GPOs with universities that offer supply chain educational opportunities. These collaborations result in educational and informational projects whose results are shared online and during in-person events, such as our Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership Forum, where Bellwethers, Ammer Honorees and Future Famers provide insights on healthcare practices today, tomorrow and beyond." 

Although she valued retirement, Templeton expressed her appreciation of BLF by volunteering to serve once again at a critical time in the organization's history.

"I am pleased to rejoin the Board as Secretary to foster the activities that are in process," Templeton indicated. "The exciting development in the Bellwether Philanthropy division, like the capstone [collegiate] projects, are lending to the development of current supply chain leaders as well as identifying those individuals in supply chain programs with future potential as leaders. It is a great way for employers to identify prospects to fill their needs.

"I am glad to contribute my organizational skills and ideas to support the Chairman, Board of Directors and Advisory Council as we work together to support the mission of the Foundation," she continued. "I am looking forward to helping to develop a great annual program and other ideas in the pipeline."

BLF's continuing mission and vision represented enough motivation to convince her to serve again.

"Bellwether League Foundation identifies and honors men and women who have demonstrated significant leadership in, influence on and contributions to the healthcare supply chain," she said. "Working with leaders in the healthcare industry from all facets of supply chain is such a rewarding endeavor. Seeing multiple individuals contribute ideas and lend their passion to the mission generates the ability to continue the great work started in 2007.

"It has been said that supply chain is like nature — it is all around us," Templeton continued. "Also, supply chain leaders know that the impossible is possible. Those with this laser-focused leadership in supply chain are those sought out by the best companies and institutions. In healthcare there is an even bigger imperative as patients are on the receiving end of supply chain services. The delivery must be precise and work flawlessly. Bellwether League Foundation works to honor those who have contributed to creating supply chain processes that meet this need as well as those identified that are and will contribute to building an even better supply chain. Helping to identify, honor, educate and support these individuals is an important part of supporting the overall healthcare supply chain and industry."

BLF Co-Founder and Executive Director Rick Barlow said he looks forward to the fresh but familiar perspective that Strain and Templeton will bring to the Foundation as the year progresses.

"While I recognize that a sudden change in organizational leadership may be a cause for concern to some, be assured that consistency and creativity abound and continue within the Board and the Advisory Council," he noted. "Barbara, Deb and I with the rest of the team are forging full steam ahead, stepping on the throttle just enough to downshift into a lower gear to accelerate forward more quickly."

About Bellwether League Foundation

Bellwether League Foundation comprises two operating divisions that educate, endow and evaluate professionals in healthcare supply chain performance excellence: The Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership and Bellwether Philanthropy.

The Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership evaluates and validates professionals submitted for consideration in its three award programs: Bellwether Honorees, Future Famers and Ammer Honorees. The Hall of Fame also offers educational and professional development content via the Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership Forum and its "Leaders & Luminaries" multimedia of online and printed content.

The Board selects deceased, retired and currently active professionals with a minimum of 25 years of exemplary service and leadership performance in supply chain operations that meet its criteria to be recognized publicly as Bellwether Class Honorees.

Future Famers represent supply chain professionals early in their healthcare careers who do not yet qualify for Bellwether consideration but have contributed meaningfully to the profession and industry.

Honorees who receive the "Dean S. Ammer Award for Healthcare Supply Chain Performance Excellence" represent noteworthy executives and professionals in the middle of their careers who, through their innovative leadership and influential project management experience, best exemplify the practice and spirit of healthcare supply chain performance excellence.

To date, The Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership has honored 137 innovators, leaders and pioneers in healthcare supply chain management in five distinct categories: Education & Media, Supply Chain Management (Provider), Group Purchasing, Supplier and Consulting Services. Bellwether League Foundation also has recognized 37 Future Famers, and two Ammer Honorees.

Bellwether Philanthropy

offers grants, scholarships and capstone educational and developmental projects to college-bound high school students who plan to study supply chain curricula, current collegiate students who major in supply chain-related careers and professionals who pursue continuing education through associations and universities.

Launched in late July 2007 by a group of influential veterans in the healthcare supply chain industry, Bellwether League Foundation began as a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation that upgraded to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in January 2021.

Bellwether League Foundation currently is funded by six Founding and Platinum Sustaining Sponsors — GHX, HealthTrust, Owens & Minor, Premier, Vizient and Wingfoot Media — and a host of additional sustaining sponsors at multiple levels. For more information, visit Bellwether League Foundation's website at