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Bellwether League, Inc.McKenna, Bellwether Class of 2010, passes
Inductee, Board member, group purchasing pioneer leaves indelible legacy

SCHAUMBURG, IL (October 25, 2011) – With much sadness and sorrow, Bellwether League Inc. announces the death of Bellwether Class of 2010’s Mark M. McKenna.

Following a lengthy and hard-fought battle with cancer, McKenna, 62, succumbed to the disease in his Dallas home early Friday morning, October 21.

McKenna’s distinguished career spanned three decades with medical device manufacturers, provider-owned group purchasing organizations and charitable and non-profit organizations, including serving on the Bellwether League Inc. Board of Directors from 2010 to 2011.

“The healthcare field is a special place to spend a career,” McKenna said about his election to Bellwether League Inc.’s Board of Directors. “There is a sense that you are contributing to something greater than a paycheck.”

McKenna perhaps is most known for serving as president and CEO of Novation LLC, from 1999 to 2006. In fact, McKenna was part of the management team that created and developed Novation to handle supply contracting for VHA Inc. and University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) back in January 1998. He served as Novation’s first senior vice president of operations that first year before his promotion to the top office.

Jamie C. Kowalski, Bellwether League Inc. co-founder and Board chairman, called it a “sad day for Bellwether League and our industry.

“Mark McKenna’s passing is very sad,” said Kowalski, CEO, Jamie C. Kowalski Consulting LLC. “The healthcare industry has experienced a major blow. He contributed much during his career. Mark’s leadership, ethics and insights will be missed by business colleagues in all segments of the healthcare supply chain.

“The Bellwether League, which Mark joined fairly recently as an Honoree and a member of the Board of Directors, and was the first to do both, also feels the huge loss. All Mark’s colleagues on the Bellwether League Board, all its Honorees and sponsors send their thoughts and prayers to Mark’s family and loved ones. He will be greatly missed.”

“Mark McKenna was a man of integrity and purpose who led with an authentic and selfless leadership style that was central to his success,” said Jody Hatcher, president and CEO, Novation. “He consistently inspired those around him and raised the bar for the industry as a whole. He was a leader, a mentor and a friend. He will be missed.”

McKenna’s legacy

Other Bellwether League Inc. officials – past and present – reflected on McKenna’s career and life.

“It is a sad day for our industry,” remembered Robert P. “Bud” Bowen, retired Amerinet Inc. CEO and retired Bellwether League Inc. Founding Secretary and Board member (2007-2010). “I knew Mark as a competitor, but more importantly as a colleague, and a wonderful spokesperson for his organization and the entire group purchasing industry. Mark was a man of great integrity, class and professionalism. I will miss him as a friend.”

“Mark was a genuine leader, passionately dedicated to group purchasing, the supply chain and healthcare in general,” said Rick Dana Barlow, co-founder and executive director, Bellwether League Inc., and president of Wingfoot Media Inc. “The industry needs more Marks up and down the chain.”

“Mark was one of the good guys of our industry,” noted Thomas W. Hughes, executive director, Strategic Marketplace Initiative and retired Bellwether League Inc. Founding Board member (2007-2010). “I was fortunate to have several opportunities to work with Novation on various projects, and he was great to work with. Mark was from Boston so we always had something to talk about. My condolences to his family and the management and staff of Novation. He will be missed.”

“I worked with Mark and knew him to be an honest man,” noted Laurence A. Dickson, Bellwether Class of 2011, retired Bellwether League Inc. Founding Board member (2007-2009) and retired corporate director of materials management, Sisters of Providence Health System. “I followed Mark because he was a leader with great integrity. I will remember Mark for his quick wit, ability to laugh at adversity and absolute devotion to his family. We are all better for knowing him!”

“Mark was a true leader that was always approachable and progressively positive,” said Vance B. Moore, Bellwether League Inc. Board member and senior vice president of operations at Mercy. “He was well known and respected from all corners of our industry and will secure a permanent spot in history as a innovator and leader.”

“My remembrances of Mark are largely from the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management board when VHA would host dinners for us at the Annual Meeting,” said Patrick E. Carroll Jr., Bellwether League Inc. retired Founding Treasurer and Board member (2007-2011) and president, Patrick E. Carroll & Associates. “I remember Mark as being an incredibly nice and classy guy and totally supportive of AHRMM. His generosity obviously extended also to Bellwether League.”

“Mark was a true visionary and worked tirelessly to move the healthcare industry forward with care and concerns for customer needs and creation of Novation’s capabilities to support the healthcare industries provider requirements,” noted Richard A. Perrin, Bellwether League Inc. founding Board member and president and CEO, AdvanTech Inc.

Novation released a statement internally to its employees, which is abridged here: “This is a very sad day for Novation, VHA, UHC and the group purchasing industry as a whole. Mark was a mentor and personal friend to many of us, and he will be sincerely missed.

“It would be impossible to capture all of Mark’s professional accomplishments as there were many. Most notably, Mark led Novation from 1999 to 2006 with an authentic and selfless leadership style that was central to his success. 

“His commitment and concern for others extends well past his professional life.  Mark consistently demonstrated his passion for helping others through his support for numerous not-for-profit organizations – The Gladney Center for Adoption and the St. Vincent de Paul Charity are among the organizations that benefitted from his dedication and support. 

“Mark was a devoted husband and father, and we extend our deepest sympathies to Mark’s wife, Mary Sue and his daughter, Katherine.”

McKenna’s career

Prior to his critical role at Novation, McKenna spent more than a decade at VHA, joining the company in 1987 and holding a variety of executive positions there including general manager of VHA’s medical/surgical business and vice president of marketing. McKenna was instrumental in developing VHA’s private-label business and its product standardization programs.

Before VHA, McKenna held various sales and marketing posts with such companies as IMED Corp., Johnson & Johnson and American Hospital Supply Corp.

McKenna served on the boards of Novation and sister company HealthCare Purchasing Partners International (now known as Provista), as well as Neoforma (now part of GHX), before his retirement. He also was a past chairman of the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association (HIGPA), now known as the Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA). Further, McKenna represented Novation as a founding member of the Arizona State University HealthCare Research Consortium.

During his retirement, McKenna contributed his time to a number of company boards, including the Beryl Cos., the Med Group, SterilMed Inc. (now part of Ethicon Endo-Surgery), Suture Express, Systagenix and Universal Hospital Services (UHS).

McKenna is survived by his wife of 38 years Mary Sue, and by his daughter Katherine and sisters Mary FitzPatrick and Patricia Tobin, and brothers Timothy and Ned, all from the Boston metropolitan area, as well as many nieces and nephews.

To view McKenna’s Honoree profile on Bellwether League Inc.’s Web site, please click here.

Healthcare Purchasing News Senior Editor Rick Dana Barlow interviewed McKenna as he entered retirement in June 2006. The interview link is here

About Bellwether League Inc.

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 Sponsors – Hospira, Kimberly-Clark Health Care, 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 that includes:

  • Jamie C. Kowalski (co-founder, chairman), CEO, Jamie C. Kowalski Consulting LLC, Milwaukee, WI
  • Rick Dana Barlow (co-founder, executive director), president, Wingfoot Media Inc., Schaumburg, IL
  • John B. Gaida (secretary), senior vice president of supply chain management, Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX
  • Mary A. Starr (treasurer), assistant vice president, AdvantageTrust, HealthTrust Purchasing Group, Schaumburg, IL
  • James R. Francis, chair, supply chain management, and chief supply chain officer, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
  • Michael Louviere (Bellwether Class of 2010), vice president, supply chain, Baptist Health System, Birmingham, AL
  • Vance B. Moore, senior vice president, operations, Mercy, Chesterfield, MO
  • Richard A. Perrin, president and CEO, AdvanTech Inc., Annapolis, MD
  • Jean M. Sargent, director, supply chain, USC Health Sciences, Los Angeles
  • John W. Strong (Bellwether Class of 2011), retired senior vice president, Nexera Inc./GNYHA Services, Fontana, WI

Funeral mass and burial will be at Holy Family Parish, Monument Square, Concord, MA, on Saturday, October 29 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the St Vincent de Paul Council at Christ the King Church, 8017 Preston Road, Dallas, TX, 75225 or The Gladney Center for Adoption, 6300 John Ryan Dr., Fort Worth, TX, 76132.If you wish to sign the guestbook go to and click on Mark’s name on the left, which will launch his obituary and links to the guestbook.


Jamie C. Kowalski
Jamie C. Kowalski Consulting LLC

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

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

Michael Louviere
Vice President, Supply Chain
Baptist Health System

Vance B. Moore
Senior Vice President, Operations

Richard A. Perrin
President and CEO
AdvanTech Inc.

Jean M. Sargent
Director, Supply Chain
USC Health Sciences

John W. Strong
John Strong LLC


Jamie C. Kowalski
Rick Dana Barlow

Founding Sponsors:

Owens & Minor Inc.
Premier Purchasing Partners
Kimberly-Clark Health Care

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.