Previous Press Releases

Bellwether League, Inc.Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership adds 8
Inaugural “Future Famers” class recognized, Board updates membership

SCHAUMBURG, IL (October 20, 2015) – Bellwether League Inc. inducted 8 industry executives to its Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership in a ceremony that reflected demographic and occupational diversity.

As in previous years, Bellwether Class of 2015 honorees highlighted their intertwined business relationships during their careers as customers, competitors and even corporate advisers, as well as their relationships with inductees in earlier Bellwether classes. Most credited their colleagues and families for supporting them.

Bellwether League Inc. inducted the newest class on Monday, October 19, during its 8th Annual Bellwether Induction Dinner event at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel.

The group, representing hospitals, suppliers, group purchasing organizations and consulting firms, are: G. Edward Becker, Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk, Dee Donatelli, R.N., CMRP, FAHRMM, Nancy LeMaster, Michael McCurry, James C. Olsen, Jane R. Pleasants and Michael A. Switzer.

John B. Gaida, Board Chairman, Bellwether League Inc., lauded the 80 professionals honored over eight years who represent a celebration of innovation, dedication and service to the industry.

“We’re certainly excited for and proud of all the honorees being inducted tonight, and we’re also very excited to recognize our new Future Famers who have come into the profession and have built some great things so early in their careers and are on the path to improving the supply chain as a bellwether someday,” he said.

Before sharing some salient career facts about each honoree, Gaida introduced each honoree with some “little-known facts” about him or her, including one who almost was cast with his twin brother to play “Little Ricky” on the old “I Love Lucy” television show, another who participated in one of the first student exchange programs with the Communist Russia in the Soviet Union in 1975, another who professed to be a “Life Master” duplicate bridge player, and another who claimed to be the loudest whistler in her family – and later demonstrated her talent without the aid of a microphone, yet whose decibel level seemed to out-screech any electronic audio feedback.

Recognizing performance

Each of the Bellwether Class of 2015 honorees expressed appreciation and humility for being recognized, thanking their colleagues, peers, team members and family for their ongoing support throughout their careers.

G. Edward Becker reflected on his vision that the sterile processing profession could improve its performance through the adoption and implementation of information technology, a vision that initially led to some “very lean times” as “the first three years were extremely difficult, more difficult than I could imagine,” he said. “My family stood by me that whole time as I was making very little money.” Today, IT remains a standard operating procedure in most sterile processing operations.

Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk remembered how he pushed boundaries with bar-coded, custom-manufactured medical/surgical products and their contracting, purchasing and distribution strategies and tactics that attracted customers and stirred competitors. On the advice of colleagues and peers in the industry, DeBusk chronicled his efforts and his company’s achievements against the backdrop and history of the healthcare industry in a memoir, expressing concern that his family would not know the history of his company and its place in the industry. “It’s a good history and would be a shame if it was lost,” he said.

Dee Donatelli noted how her career, which began in nursing before migrating to value analysis, supply chain and management consulting in those areas, took her “away from home for too long,” but her family supported her through it all. Donatelli promoted industry efforts to launch a formal certification program for value analysis professionals, for which she has advocated for years.

Nancy LeMaster deflected full credit for her achievements to her team and mentors, having emerged from an early career in strategic marketing and moving to supply chain, an area where she said she never knew she’d end up. “Any individual accomplishment is the result of the people behind you who took my telephone calls and offered advice,” LeMaster told the audience. “I only hope I can do the same for others.”

Michael McCurry credited Bellwether League Inc. for “taking time to honor a very noble profession.” He added that he was proud to work with everyone within his organization and revealed his heartfelt motivation for pursuing success: “If I accomplished anything in life it’s because my wife and daughter believed in me, and I didn’t want to let them down.”

James C. Olsen, in his calm and soft-spoken manner, credited his colleagues and the organizations that worked with him as shaping his career development, including the ability to access and generate data to complete noteworthy clinical and operational projects. Olsen emphasized the importance of dedicating time and energy to the profession but also to strive for a healthy balance between professional and personal time to overcome job stress. He recalled the even-keeled demeanor of his mother, a critical care nurse who seemed unflappable in the face of any crisis situation, as inspiration.

Jane R. Pleasants expressed pride in her induction “because of the people who came before me and those who stand behind me.” Pleasants reminisced at starting her career in education, never dreaming she would move to healthcare supply chain operations where she demonstrated how to integrate finance, IT and supply chain with clinical effectiveness. “Many of you here have been my mentors who helped me learn on the job,” she told the audience. She also thanked her family for their support – singling out her eldest son for watching over his younger brothers.

Michael A. Switzer, a biomedical engineer by training, conversationally power-walked the audience through his storied career to date that spanned investor-owned and not-for-profit community, faith-based and public hospitals and involved improving distribution and warehouse operations as well as establishing multi-faceted consolidated service centers. Switzer marveled at being able to take a team of people around the world to see and study first-hand, best practices in corporate logistics – concepts that they were able to bring back to “a little town in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “We couldn’t have done what we did without that team.”

Future Famers honored

Bellwether League Inc. also recognized its 2015 class of Future Famers as noted by Treasurer Mary Starr.

“We developed the Future Famers recognition program so that those professionals new to a career in healthcare supply chain could be highlighted for innovations they are implementing as well as those achieving success with large scale, complex projects within their organizations,” Starr said.

The first class of Future Famers included:

  • Will Barrette, Assistant Vice President, Supply Chain Finance & Strategy, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans
  • Justin Freed, Executive Director, Supply Chain Management, Loma Linda (CA) Medical Center, who joined Seattle-based Providence Health & Services, as Associate Vice President, Supply Chain just a few weeks earlier
  • Jason Hays, Regional Director, Supply Chain, Mercy Health, St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, OH
  • Nate Mickish, Senior Director, Non-acute Supply Chain, Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX
  • Eric Tritch, Director, Strategic Sourcing, University of Chicago Medicine
  • Donna Van Vlerah, Vice President, Supply Chain, Parkview Health, Fort Wayne, IN.
Looking to 2016

Bellwether League Inc. also marked the retirement of three Board members, along with the debut of their successors.

James R. Francis, chair, supply chain management, and chief supply chain officer, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN; Vance B. Moore, senior vice president, operations, Mercy, Chesterfield, MO; and Jean M. Sargent, CMRP, FAHRMM, CRCST, vice president, healthcare strategy and implementation, USDM Life Sciences, Santa Barbara, CA, completed six years of dedicated service.

Three new Board members succeeded Francis, Moore and Sargent: Todd Ebert, R.Ph., president and CEO, Healthcare Supply Chain Association, Washington; Nick Gaich, CEO,Nick Gaich and Associates, Morgan Hill, CA, and a Bellwether Class of 2013 inductee; and Deborah A. Petretich Templeton, R.Ph., chief, care support services, Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA. Patrick E. Carroll Jr. was re-elected to the Board and re-elected Secretary.

“I am passionate and a believer in the value the supply chain brings to healthcare,” Ebert said. “I have seen multiple instances where quality has been improved and costs reduced by a strong supply chain. I support recognizing those who are leaders in this industry and I am honored to be selected as a Board member.”

Gaich promoted BLI’s legacy to recognize, salute and honor supply chain leaders.

“Recognizing the dedication, passion and commitment of the many colleagues in our industry who have advanced our profession, my hope is to offer back a supporting arm to salute their accomplishments and in doing so advance lessons learned to our young and rising stars that will carry forward their legacy of supply chain excellence,” Gaich said. “BLI is an industry centering point solely dedicated to recognize and advance Supply Chain’s impact and contributions in today’s complex healthcare environment. It was an honor to be inducted in the 2013 Bellwether Hall of Fame and it will be a privilege to now serve as a Board member.”

Templeton linked past performance to future accomplishments, too.

“I am honored and privileged to be selected to serve on the Board of Bellwether League,” she said. “The past contributions that the League has recognized have given us the strength and wisdom we have today. The ability to recognize those that have made contributions to the healthcare supply chain is something to celebrate. More importantly, it allows us to continue to promote those impacts and build them in to the promise of the future.”

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 80 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 – Halyard Health, McKesson, MedAssets, Owens & Minor and Premier Purchasing Partners – and a host of additional sponsors, highlighted on Bellwether League Inc.’s Web site.

The 2015-2016 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) Regional Vice President, VHA-UHC Alliance NewCo LLC, Chicago
  • Rick Dana Barlow (co-founder, executive director), President, Wingfoot Media Inc., Schaumburg, IL
  • Todd Ebert, R.Ph., President and CEO, Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA), Washington
  • Nick Gaich, (Bellwether Class of 2013),CEO, Nick Gaich and Associates, Morgan Hill, CA
  • 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
  • John W. Strong, (Bellwether Class of 2011),Principal, John Strong LLC, Fontana, WI
  • Deborah A. Petretich Templeton, R.Ph., Chief, Care Support Services, Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA
  • Mark A. Van Sumeren, Strategic Adviser, Medical Devices and Integrated Delivery Networks , Health Industry Advisor LLC, Richmond, VA

For more information on how to become a sustaining, corporate or professional sponsor or to nominate honoree and Future Famer candidates visit Bellwether League Inc.’s Web site at