September/November 2006

Starting a New Decade at the National Leadership Conference


“Our story is grounded in our values, motivated by our mission and animated by our ongoing confidence that, by the grace of God’s Spirit, we will succeed.” — Kevin Lofton

Leaders from across Catholic Health Initiatives gathered in Denver, Colo., September 21–23 for the organization’s fifth National Leadership Conference, which marked the start of the second decade of the system. “The National Leadership Conference is our time to meet face to face, to discuss and to educate, to feel the depth of our shared roots and reach toward new heights as one,” said Kevin Lofton, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Health Initiatives. Maryanna Coyle, SC, signs a copy of the book she wrote with Patricia Cahill, "Catholic Health Initiatives: The Early Years," for Kevin Lofton. The conference attendees included board, administrative and medical staff leaders from throughout Catholic Health Initiatives. They heard new ideas about person-centered care and leadership from keynote speakers Rosemary Gibson, senior program officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Margaret Wheatley, president emerita of the Berkana Institute. They also chose from among 20 breakout sessions on issues related to governance, access to care, rural health care strategies, change leadership and more. Knowledge Exchange Forums were a new feature of the conference. These forums gave attendees the opportunity to network with colleagues and exchange information on specific topics, such as foundations and fundraising, genetics and pharmacy. From left, former Board of Stewardship Trustees members Kevin Fickensher, MD, Marjorie Beyers, PhD, and Amata Miller, IHM; and Eleanor Martin, SCN, former member of the Civil Corporation. Part of the conference program was devoted to reacquainting attendees with the history of Catholic Health Initiatives. Esther Anderson, OSF, PhD, the second board chair; Patricia Cahill, Esq., the first president and chief executive officer; and Maryanna Coyle, SC, the first board chair of Catholic Health Initiatives, shared stories about the personalities and events that contributed to the formation of Catholic Health Initiatives, as well as the struggles and successes of the system’s first ten years. Attendees received a copy of a recently published book on the history of Catholic Health Initiatives, written by Cahill and Sister Maryanna. In addition, a “story wall” that illustrates the story of Catholic Health Initiatives’ first ten years in images, written words and spoken words made its debut. From left, Michael Fordyce, chief administrative officer; Maryanna Coyle, SC, former Steering Council member and first chair of the Board of Stewardship Trustees; Patricia Cahill, the first president and chief executive officer; Esther Anderson, OSF, PhD, former Steering Council member and immediate past chair of the Board of Stewardship Trustees; and Kevin Lofton, president and chief executive officer. The words of poet and author David Whyte set the tone for a moving, spiritual observance of the tenth anniversary of Catholic Health Initiatives in a session led by Lofton. “It was a powerful way to celebrate our ten-year history as Catholic Health Initiatives,” said Lofton. “Our story is grounded in our values, motivated by our mission and animated by our ongoing confidence that, by the grace of God’s Spirit, we will succeed.” From left, Geraldine Hoyler, CSC, former Steering Council member, former member of the Board of Stewardship Trustees and former chief financial officer; and Peg O'Keefe, director, communications services. Lofton also presented a state of the ministry address to the conference attendees, affirming that Catholic Health Initiatives is strong and poised for future growth. “Last fall our leadership team adopted three themes to streamline organizational focus and clarify priorities. These themes — Build the System Together, Invest in Leaders to Develop Leaders and Create the Safest Environment by Reducing Avoidable Complications — evolve from our strategic priorities,” he said. “These themes strengthened our ministry focus and our long-term ability to serve our communities. Our leadership team has affirmed that we should continue to focus on these themes for the upcoming year.” Conference attendees also celebrated a eucharistic liturgy before sharing fellowship during the closing banquet. Catholic Health Initiatives’ next National Leadership Conference will be held in Phoenix, Ariz., in October 2008.