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Bellwether League, Inc. 9 bellwethers join healthcare supply chain leadership hall of fame

SCHAUMBURG, IL (November 8, 2013) – Bellwether League Inc. added nine industry pioneers to its hall of fame for healthcare supply chain leadership, representing hospitals, suppliers, group purchasing organizations, consulting firms and educational organizations and media.

Bellwether League Inc. inducted the nine members of the Bellwether Class of 2013 on Tuesday, October 1, during its 6th Annual Honoree Induction Dinner event at the Sheraton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel.

They are Christopher J. Bale, Lynn Britton, James F. Dickow, William A. Donato Jr., Nick Gaich, Donald E. Greenslade, Michael Rosser, Alan D. Weinstein, and Paul E. Widman. Visit Bellwether League Inc.’s Web site ( to read their profiles, and view photos and access video from the event.

Bellwether League Inc. Co-Founder and Executive Director Rick Dana Barlow opened the ceremony by promoting Supply Chain’s importance in healthcare based on an empty surgical suite, a likely and probable result without the profession’s efforts and influence.

“Without Supply Chain, the instruments, the gloves, the masks, the gowns, the caps, the surgical drapes, the video monitors, the table, and the list of products and services goes on … they would not be accessible or available,” Barlow said. “Supply Chain makes it happen.”

During his introductory remarks, Bellwether League Inc. Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie C. Kowalski reflected on the organization’s history from humble beginnings as the nation plunged into a recession to the ongoing recovery today as his term as Chairman ended at the conclusion of the event.

“For the last six years it’s been an honor, a privilege and a thrill for me to do what I’m doing right now,” Kowalski said. “It’s so gratifying for me as someone who has been in the industry for a long time and knowing some of the people we’ve honored.”

Kowalski thanked the Board of Directors for their efforts in determining an annual Bellwether Class and for hosting the Honoree Induction Dinner every year.

To determine a Bellwether Class each year “is a real challenge,” Kowalski said, “but it’s one that we take on because we believe in what we’re doing.

Recognizing performance

As the Honorees in the Bellwether Class of 2013 accepted their induction, they emphasized a duet of fitting themes: Service and teamwork with deep familial support.

In the pages of prominent trade publications like Medical Products Sales and Hospital Purchasing News, Christopher J. Bale dedicated his career to communicating and educating the industry about the issues impacting supply chain from the 1970s until his death in late 1996. Barlow, who worked with Bale for about four years, accepted the award on his behalf. He recalled Bale’s deep connections to hospital supply chain professionals, GPO and supplier executives, and the respect he earned from them for his work.

Lynn Britton used his initial retail and early hospital supply chain experience to launch a successful – and still expanding – consolidated service center operation (Resource Optimization & Innovation or ROi) for the Mercy healthcare system. Britton also is one of the few hospital supply chain professionals honored by Bellwether League Inc. who advanced within a healthcare organization to CEO.

Britton called his induction a “humbling honor,” and expressed his pride for the entire ROi leadership team for “continuing the tradition of innovative, progressive-minded leadership, and I could not be more proud to serve alongside you at Mercy.”

He further reinforced the important and necessary roles that Supply Chain plays in building and construction, conflict and warfare and recovery from natural disasters and economic turmoil. “[Supply Chain] allows ministries like Mercy to serve millions of patients more efficiently,” Britton indicated. “Sometimes it can mean life or death. Simply, it delivers the most critical at the most critical time. For this reason, Supply Chain Management can truly change lives.”

Britton expressed appreciation at being able to learn Supply Chain Management practices alongside others who understand its potential.

With a management engineering degree and an analytical, problem-solving tool set, James F. Dickow worked on the space program for McDonnell-Douglas before migrating into healthcare to share his experience and expertise with more than 1,000 hospitals and medical/surgical product distributors throughout his career.

Dickow expressed humility at joining others who he said accomplished significantly more. “My work seems small in comparison to contributions made by previous recipients,” he noted.

Dickow emphasized the “supportive, understanding and loving environment” his family provided, too, and encouraged the audience to fortify Supply Chain’s future.

“Let us continue to develop and recognize leaders, processes, technologies, approaches and products that continue to provide cost- and clinically effective solutions to the [issues] we face.”

William A. Donato Jr. was credited with integrating the needs of clinical professionals with those of supply chain whether working at a hospital, healthcare system, GPO or supplier. “This has allowed me to travel the world and to work with some of the most talented, funny and passionate professionals,” he said. “Across these three sectors, the common thread has been the healthcare supply chain.”

Donato attributed his career path to luck, timing and numerous challenges along the way that needed to be overcome with support from colleagues, friends and mentors who “without their council, friendship, competitiveness, passion and professionalism I would not be standing here tonight.” He highlighted more than a dozen prominent supply chain leaders over the past three decades who influenced him and “forced you to step up,” roughly half of which preceded him into Bellwether League Inc.

“All of the Honorees before us, all of the Honorees tonight and all of the Honorees that will come in the following years have one thing in common,” Donato concluded, “what I believe are the seven characteristics that drive their true north:

  • They all have a passion for the patient.
  • They have a passion for the caregiver.
  • They have a passion for doing the right thing.
  • They have a passion for not accepting the status quo.
  • They have a passion for innovation.
  • They have a passion for giving back.
  • They have a passion for developing people.”

Nick Gaich also was recognized for connecting physicians and surgeons with the supply chain and promoting clinical service line management best practices, including strategic point-of-use service center modeling, long before the practice joined the industry lexicon.

Gaich warned the crowd that as a product of the ’60s and a West Coast guy he typically has an opinion about everything and never at a loss for words. “But for the first time in my professional career I’m totally speechless,” he said. “This is more than a humbling moment in my career but also a very unexpected honor.”

He committed to being “the best steward I can as far as Bellwether principles,” dedicated to the standards his Bellwether Classmates also hold.

He thanked the many colleagues he’s worked “shoulder-to-shoulder” with over many years for their time, mentorship and support. They’re all trusted professionals in my book who have made a difference in my career.”

Gaich closed by crediting his wife and family for being his inspiration.

Donald E. Greenslade represented the first Bellwether Honoree from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service who launched and managed regional purchasing and distribution centers in the 1970s and later in his career educated and trained supply chain professionals in the United States and Canada on logistics and procurement effectiveness and efficiency. He typically preferred to remain behind the scenes during his four-decade career so that his work spoke for itself.

John Smith, a long-time supply chain consulting colleague and friend, accepted the award on Greenslade’s behalf. Smith briefly retraced the steps of Greenslade’s long career. “In these days of global supply chain systems and e-commerce it’s very easy to forget the pioneers of the healthcare supply chain who paved the way,” Smith said. “Don was one of those pioneers.”

Smith further noted that Greenslade would have been “immensely proud to have received this award.

“Don made complex problems look easy and had a knack for convincing others that what he was suggesting made sense.” he said.

Michael Rosser pioneered the design and development of the consolidated shared services organization model for Canadian healthcare providers after the government decreed that hospitals share clinical and support services between the provinces. Since then, Canadian hospitals nationwide participate in about 18 cross-provincial consolidated service centers that Rosser either launched or influenced.

“Over the years, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work in healthcare and through my partnership with the supplier community I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with many U.S. provider organizations that have always been so open and willing to share their experiences, insights and leading practices with me. My success over the years has been in part because of the association I’ve had with many of you.”

He thanked his wife and family for their support and understanding during his frequent business traveling.

“Supply Chain in Canada remains a target of cost savings and for good reason. We have been challenged to be more efficient and collaborative, more innovative and adaptive. We have come a long way, however, but there’s more to do.”

He called his induction a career highlight and pledged to “continue to work hard as an ambassador for the advancement of supply chain management leading practices.”

Alan D. Weinstein launched, led and advised a bevy of businesses throughout his career but perhaps is best known for developing the predecessor organization to Premier Health Alliance, one of the forerunners of the contemporary Premier Inc. But Weinstein also was known for his extensive mentoring and relationship-building in the provider, GPO and supplier communities to the point that some consider him one of the most well-connected executives in healthcare.

Weinstein expressed his appreciation for the “honor of being recognized.

“As I look around the audience of so many people that supported me and helped the organizations that I was associated with be successful, and as people think back over the last couple of weeks what Premier has become over the last 30 years, I’m very grateful for the support that I’ve been given,” he said.

Paul E. Widman was such a supply chain pioneer in that he served as one of the “founding five” administrative executives at the modern-day Cleveland Clinic back in the 1960s. In fact, Widman occupied a seat in the C-suite four decades before it was even thought possible or even accepted practice, making him a “true leader in a leading facility” as Kowalski introduced his brief biography that included direct ties to other industry pioneers and Bellwethers dating back to the 1930s and 1940s.

Widman’s son Jerry Widman, a veteran healthcare chief financial officer, accepted the award for his father.

“On behalf of the Widman family I will just tell you that my dad was a great father, a great mentor to me and at the same time very dedicated to what all of you are all about.

Looking to 2014

Bellwether League Inc.’s 6th Annual Honoree Induction Dinner event also saw a succession of leadership as a Founding Board Member returned to the Board as Chairman.

John B. Gaida, senior vice president of supply chain management, Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX, was elected Chairman, succeeding Kowalski who remains on the Board.

Treasurer Mary A. Starr, Assistant Vice President, AdvantageTrust, HealthTrust Purchasing Group, Schaumburg, IL, was re-elected to a second term.

About Bellwether League Inc.

Bellwether League Inc.’s Board of Directors 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 publicly recognized. Honorees demonstrate their qualifications by advancing the profession through work experience and performance and active participation in professional organizations and their communities.

To date, Bellwether League Inc., has identified and honored 62 innovators, leaders and pioneers in healthcare supply chain management in five distinct categories: Education & Media, Supply Chain Management, Group Purchasing, Supplier and Consulting Services.

Launched in late July 2007 by a group of influential veterans in the healthcare supply chain industry, Bellwether League Inc., is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation that identifies and honors men and women who have demonstrated significant leadership in, influence on and contributions to the supply chain from healthcare providers, healthcare product manufacturers and distributors, group purchasing organizations, consulting firms, educational institutions and media outlets.

Bellwether League Inc. is funded by five Founding and Platinum-level Sponsors – Kimberly-Clark Health Care, McKesson, MedAssets, Owens & Minor and Premier Purchasing Partners – and a host of additional sponsors.

The Board of Directors of Bellwether League Inc. includes a veteran group of industry advocates:

  • Chairman: John B. Gaida, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Management, Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX
  • Secretary: Patrick E. Carroll Jr., President, Patrick E. Carroll & Associates, Cypress, CA
  • Treasurer: Mary A. Starr, Assistant Vice President, AdvantageTrust, HealthTrust Purchasing Group, Schaumburg, IL
  • Rick Dana Barlow ( Co-Founder, Executive Director), President, Wingfoot Media Inc., Schaumburg, IL
  • James R. Francis, Chair, Supply Chain Management, and Chief Supply Chain Officer, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
  • Jamie C. Kowalski (Co-Founder, Founding Chairman, 2007-2013), CEO, Jamie C. Kowalski Consulting LLC, Milwaukee, WI
  • Michael Louviere, Bellwether Class of 2010, System Vice President, Supply Chain, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans, LA
  • Vance B. Moore, Senior Vice President, Operations, Mercy, Chesterfield, MO
  • Jean M. Sargent, CMRP, FAHRMM, CRCST, Director, Advisory Solutions, MedAssets, Los Angeles
  • John W. Strong, Bellwether Class of 2011, Principal, John Strong LLC, Fontana, WI
  • Mark A. Van Sumeren, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Owens & Minor Inc., Richmond, VA

For more information, to become a sustaining, corporate or individual sponsor or to nominate honoree candidates visit Bellwether League Inc.’s Web site