Our fifth class tackles challenges
Top 25 Women manage change in tumultuous times
As the new editor of Modern Healthcare, I take great pride in introducing this extraordinary group of leaders—the fifth time this magazine has honored the Top 25 Women in Healthcare, sponsored by Furst Group. What’s most striking about this year’s honorees is not their demonstrated ability to overcome the barriers that historically kept gifted and ambitious women from rising to the top of their respective fields—impressive as that is. Rather, it is how their formative professional experiences served as a crucible for honing the skills they would need to take on the most difficult challenges facing any executive in any industry today—managing the tumult of the rapidly changing healthcare field. Think about it. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overcame many hurdles to win two terms as governor of Kansas. But how she must yearn for those simpler days now that she is tasked, amid virulent opposition, with convincing 50 million Americans that signing up for health insurance is the right thing to do. And while glass ceilings and patriarchal attitudes still exist, it is notable that this year’s honorees with the most longevity on the list—three have been honored four or more times—have been on the frontlines of healthcare’s most significant controversies. Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, heads the trade group whose members are on the firing line with the startup of the insurance exchanges. Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, must negotiate the tricky terrain between her members’ concerns about religious liberty and the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, oversees the philanthropic juggernaut that provides the intellectual underpinnings of the healthcare reform movement, an awesome responsibility. The competition was stiff to make it onto this year’s list. Readers submitted a total of 555 nominations, besting the record 324 nominations received in 2011, the last time we honored top women in the field. Senior editors at Modern Healthcare judged the nominees based on five criteria: the quality of their leadership of an organization or company; ability to effect change in healthcare; willingness to share expertise with others in the field; serving as a role model or mentor for others; and extending their leadership beyond their own organization. Our sponsor played no role in selecting the honorees. I invite you to read the short biographies in this program. I think you will agree that this year’s honorees not only deserve this honor, but also our thanks. They are succeeding at the ultimate challenge for any leader—managing change.