Kathleen Benfield was drawn into healthcare the way a screenwriter would write it up. As a 12-year-old, Benfield was severely injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident and, she says, "Some wonderful surgeons saved my life." The Buffalo, N.Y., native became a hospital volunteer after she recovered, and she went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in biology and an MBA with a concentration on healthcare at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Todd Caliva, chief executive officer of 131-bed East Houston Regional Medical Center, schedules 17 meetings a quarter with employees of the hospital, including sessions at 1 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
When it comes to the physicians she represents, Cara Farrell isn't afraid to fight for what she thinks they deserve. In her five years as director of managed-care contracting for Women's Health Connecticut, Farrell has secured annual fee increases of 4% to 16%, generating almost $20 million in additional revenue for the group practice's 150 OB/GYNs.
After spending the past 15 years in healthcare administration and working on health policy on Capitol Hill, Donna Fox continues to press for government funding for healthcare.
As an undergraduate at Baylor University in 1993, Laura Irvine decided she wanted to intern at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, Texas, for a management class. Because it was an unprecedented move, Irvine had to take her case to the dean of the business school.
When administrators at 199-bed Shore Memorial Hospital, Somers Point, N.J., set out to recruit a vice president of medical affairs in 2003, they sought a physician leader who could excel at the role's traditional responsibilities and also take on some broader operational functions. It was just the challenge that Peter Jungblut, 39, was seeking.
As secretary of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, Alan Levine became the public champion of the state's fiercely debated bid to overhaul Medicaid.
Michael Panicola made quite an impression when he joined SSM Health Care's ethics committee five years ago. "When Mike first came to the ethics committee while finishing his Ph.D., he looked 19 years old, and I was expecting to encounter a fumbling Ph.D. student," says John Milton, co-director of the emergency department at St. Mary's Health Center in Richmond Heights, Mo. "But, he was calm, collected and didn't overstep his boundaries. He gave an intelligent point of view, which impressed me."
When Rick Stevens, 37, joined Caritas Health Services in January 2003, he was among a handful of managers hired to help a new chief executive officer turn around the hospital's financial performance. Stevens has done his part.
After graduating from college in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in comparative literature, Katharine Vanden Broek worked in marketing for an engineered-lumber firm in Boise, Idaho. It was an interesting job, she says, but she felt there had to be more.
Marie Vienneau's creativity, fearlessness and tenacity have helped keep the small, rural hospital she oversees in business. Barely six months after Vienneau was promoted to chief executive officer of Millinocket (Maine) Regional Hospital in August 2002, the area's largest employer filed for bankruptcy and closed.
Judith Watson, 37, describes her ascent to executive director of Greenburgh Health Center as a "natural progression." When she joined the White Plains, N.Y., health center as a staff nurse 11 years ago, she exclusively focused on patient care. But after working in every department at Greenburgh, her knowledge and experience exceeded her responsibilities and she was promoted to nursing director.