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Bellwether League, Inc.Bellwether League Inc. elects new Board Chairman

SCHAUMBURG, IL (October 1, 2013) – Bellwether League Inc., the healthcare supply chain leadership hall of fame, elected a new Chairman to lead the six-year-old not-for-profit organization.

John B. Gaida, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Management, at Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX, was named Chairman to succeed Founding Chairman Jamie C. Kowalski who led the Board since the organization’s inception in 2007. Bellwether League’s bylaws limit elected officers to two three-year terms.

Mary A. Starr, Assistant Vice President, AdvantageTrust, HealthTrust Purchasing Group, Schaumburg, IL, was re-elected Treasurer to a second three-year term during the organization’s Annual Meeting prior to its 6th Annual Honoree Induction Dinner Event in Chicago.

“This progression of leadership represents the anticipated transition of Bellwether League Inc. to the second phase of its development, expansion and growth from modest beginnings,” said Rick Dana Barlow, Co-Founder and Executive Director. “While Jamie provided instrumental leadership in helping us lay the foundation, John will help us mount the uprights as we continue to build and move forward in our quest to identify, honor and induct noteworthy professionals.”

Gaida was a Founding Board Member who was inspired and motivated to return.

“After six-plus years helping create and evolve BLI, I missed it and the significant difference we collectively were making in the recognition of those who came before us to make the healthcare supply chain what it was today,” Gaida said. “I needed to continue to be a part of that effort because I truly felt I could make a difference in growing and improving the organization. We have made a great deal of progress, but there is much more to be done.”

Gaida highlighted several key priorities he will address in 2014. The first involves “working with present and new sponsors to not only assure their continued support, but to give them the return they seek and deserve as important members of the BLI family,” he noted.

The second involves growing the Bellwether League brand in other ways.

“One way that we are actively pursuing is to create a tool for the industry that recognizes supply excellence,” Gaida continued. “As we do with BLI inductees, we want to acknowledge and reward those actively working to grow Supply Chain’s presence in their healthcare operations – seeking better and more creative ways to not only do the things we have always done in Supply Chain, but to expand into the new territory of supply utilization and clinical practice improvements for our health systems. This is the future of Supply Chain, and those who are now achieving those goals need to be recognized.”

Within three years, Gaida indicated he hopes that Bellwether League not only will be carrying out its original mission but also will be recognized as the “single source of supply chain excellence as it recognizes past performers and seeks to find those current and future top decile achievers.

“We will have solidified our position of providing a process of that recognition – both past and present – and will be looked to as an important source for speakers and education support to the industry,” he added. “Our Board and past honorees are some of the finest individuals in the business and would all be willing to extend their knowledge to those who seek to improve and learn.”

Founding Chairman looks back

Founding Chairman and Co-Founder Jamie Kowalski reflected on his six years in the post and what Bellwether League contributed to the industry and profession to date.

Kowalski lauded Bellwether League for “providing the Honorees with the recognition they deserve to the point of moving some of them to tears at the experience,” he indicated. “Not that the intention is to bring on tears, but some felt this was such a momentous, humbling and gratifying experience that they became emotional. I believe the Honorees realized that this is also a way for the industry and professional peers and colleagues to say thanks for the contributions.

Kowalski also appreciated “finding the industry veterans and the under-the-radar pioneers and getting this recognition to them.

“With everyone’s help, we built an enterprise that has earned the respect in the industry and the profession, at least of those who have taken the opportunity to get to know BLI,” he continued. “We have gained their agreement and support that this is the right thing to do, and they are glad someone is doing it.”

Kowalski, who will remain on the Board, said he will support the new Chairman, officers and fellow Board Members to “make BLI as successful, meaningful, valuable and important as possible.” In fact, he said he anticipates Bellwether League’s Board will be much more aggressive with getting the word out about the organization. “Bellwether League will be most successful once the vast majority of the profession in the healthcare industry becomes very familiar with the mission, vision, Honoree evaluation process and Honorees.”

Still, Kowalski envisions a “very positive” outlook for Bellwether League.

“At each year’s Honoree Induction Dinner, we have a number of attendees that are there for the first time,” he said. “And once they see what BLI is all about, they ‘get it.’ Each of those will tell at least a few other people about the professional, moving experience they witnessed, and that should bring more people to the Dinner and lead to more people who both ‘get it’ and become voluntary ambassadors for what BLI is doing.”

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 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:

  • John B. Gaida (Chairman), Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Management, Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX
  • Patrick E. Carroll Jr. (Secretary), President, Patrick E. Carroll & Associates, Cypress, CA
  • Mary A. Starr, (Treasurer) Asst. 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, 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, Principal, John Strong LLC, Fontana, WI
  • Mark A. Van Sumeren, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Owens & Minor Inc., Richmond, VA


John B. Gaida
Senior Vice President
Supply Chain Management
Texas Health Resources

Patrick E. Carroll Jr.
Patrick E. Carroll & Associates

Mary A. Starr
Assistant Vice President, AdvantageTrust
HealthTrust Purchasing Group

Executive Director
Rick Dana Barlow
Wingfoot Media Inc.


James R. Francis
Chair, Supply Chain Management
Mayo Clinic

Jamie C. Kowalski
Jamie C. Kowalski Consulting LLC

Michael Louviere
System Vice President, Supply Chain
Ochsner Health System

Vance B. Moore
Senior Vice President, Operations

Jean M. Sargent
Director, Advisory Solutions

John W. Strong
John Strong LLC

Mark A. Van Sumeren
Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development
Owens & Minor Inc.


Jamie C. Kowalski
Rick Dana Barlow

Founding Sponsors:

Kimberly-Clark Health Care
Owens & Minor
Premier Purchasing Partners

Platinum Sponsor:


Bellwether League Inc. (BLI) is a non-stock, not-for-profit Illinois corporation, tax exempt under IRS Code Section 501(c)(6). BLI donations and sponsorships are not deductible as a charitable contribution for income tax purposes, but may be deductible as a business expense.