Date: 5/28/2013

St. Catherine CEO Birdzell Most Influential

St. Catherine Hospital CEO Jo Ann Birdzell (third from left) has been chosen as the Most Influential Woman of the Year for 2013. Winners and nominees from Community Foundation of NW Indiana, Inc. (CFNI)/Community Healthcare System include (left to right) St. Catherine Hospital Community Outreach Coordinator Khisha Anderson, Senior VP and CFO for CFNI Mary Ann Shacklett, St. Catherine CEO Jo Ann Birdzell and Chairman of the Board of Directors for CFNI Frankie Fesko.

St. Catherine Chief Executive Officer Jo Ann Birdzell has been selected as Most Influential Woman in Northwest Indiana not only for her positive impact in the field of Healthcare, but for the overall contributions she has made in service to the Region. Professionals from 11 industries were honored May 23 at an awards banquet at Avalon Manor with more than 500 guests in attendance.

Influential Women of Northwest Indiana is an organization devoted to providing women with the resources, recognition and motivation necessary to be successful in the business world. Every year, Influential Women honors the most influential and up-and-coming women in each of 11 different industries, ranging from construction and healthcare to education and government.

“As a leading healthcare provider throughout Northwest Indiana, we are deeply committed to the communities we serve,” said John Gorski, Chief Operating Officer of Community Healthcare System. “Jo Ann is a leader who is known for her generosity and service to the community. Through her many contributions, and her passion for caring and her advocacy for the underinsured and uninsured, she has had a direct impact on the health and well-being of our communities. We are extremely proud of her accomplishments and this well-deserved recognition.”

According to Gorski, Birdzell is a noted healthcare advocate committed to improving the quality of healthcare for Northwest Indiana residents for decades. She works closely with legislators and decision makers in Indianapolis to make sure the needs are met for those living here in the region.

“While she is small in stature, JoAnn is powerful and has a heart of gold with a mighty voice for those in need,” he added.

Birdzell began her healthcare career as a nurse, working her way up into leadership roles and striving to be a mentor and role model for other women. For more than two decades, Birdzell has held various leadership positions at St. Catherine Hospital, until 2001 when she was named CEO. She has opened doors for others to follow and has had an impact on women in the field of healthcare in Northwest Indiana.

“Female leaders who take on professional leadership positions have to focus on hard work, have a passion for what they do and develop and build support teams who have the same drive. This team should be committed and professional and have common goals with a strategy and mission to create a better world,” said Birdzell.

Birdzell has stayed involved in the community and is an active member of: Sigma Theta Tau; National Honorary Society for Nursing; American Hospital Association; American Nursing Association; MCHA Metropolitan Chicago Health Council, Chicago, Illinois; Catholic Health Association; Purdue University, Chancellor Council and Indiana University, Allied Health Care Council. She also has been actively involved with numerous healthcare organizations both in Indiana and Illinois. In 2006, she was presented with the Distinguished Service Award from the Indiana Hospital Association. In 2008, Birdzell was named Lake Shore Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year.

More recent recognitions in 2012 include the St. Joseph the Worker Award by Calumet College of St. Joseph. Criteria for the St. Joseph the Worker Award includes distinction in his or her profession or vocation; noteworthy devotion to his or her community, country, or family; and embodiment of the ideals and virtues of college patron St. Joseph the Worker over the course of his or her career. Birdzell also was named a “Pillar of the Community” by Healthy East Chicago Inc. This honor recognizes those dedicated to improving the quality of life for those who live in East Chicago.

The Influential Woman’s program’s honorees were selected by a committee of business leaders who had the challenging task of narrowing the 90 nominees to just one winner for “Influential Woman” and “Up and Coming Woman” in each of the 11 industry categories (22 winners total).

Community Healthcare System administration and staff, and parent company Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana, Inc. (CFNI) received other nominations as well.

St. Catherine Hospital Community Outreach Coordinator Khisha Anderson also was nominated in the Healthcare category. Senior Vice President and CFO for Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana Mary Ann Shacklett was a finalist in the Finance category as Most Influential Woman.

Last year, St. Mary Medical Center CEO Janice Ryba was honored as Most Influential Woman in Healthcare. For her philanthropic work in the community and as Chairman of the Board of Directors of CFNI, Inc. Frankie Fesko also previously was honored with the inaugural Most Influential Community Leader award.

“We created this event to encourage, support, and celebrate our female business leaders in Northwest Indiana,” said Andrea Pearman, president of Diversified Marketing Strategies (DMS). DMS is a full-service marketing communications agency headquartered in Crown Point and the program’s founder. DMS is also the publisher of Building Indiana News, an award-winning magazine that is the leading source of business and economic development news throughout Indiana. “We are honored to bring together such an accomplished group of women to share their successes and facilitate networking between the real movers and shakers of our business communities,” Pearman added.

Birdzell shared that she has learned many lessons about leadership throughout her career but credits one of her favorite female leaders — Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher.

“One of my favorite quotes of hers regarding leadership is, ‘I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near,’” said Birdzell.