So many individuals and organizations have contributed to my governance expertise. Like most nurses, I had no knowledge of boards or their roles in, responsibilities to, or power of creating great organizations. My first board was the American Nurses Association Education Council. That council was basically an advisory board providing advice to the ANA board on education issues and policies. There were 10 fabulous nurses serving as members of that advisory council. They were well prepared for meetings, engaged in robust discussions, able to disagree without being disagreeable, and they accomplished significant work at the meetings. That first governance experience was enlightening and inspirational. I realized that my personal mission of improving the quantity and quality of patients’ lives could be actualized through work on boards.
Work on a college board and the board of a rehabilitation institution were my next governance assignments. These boards were very different from each other. The college board was large, congenial, and informal; and the rehabilitation board was small, intense, and formal. These experiences helped me learn that although board processes may be very different, there is no single right way to govern.
I went on to serve on dozens of nonprofit and corporate boards in the past 20 years. I am especially grateful to Luke McGuinness, who taught me about great governance. He was the CEO of MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois. Luke is a master at creating a team of his board and his managers. His sense of urgency and demands for excellence were contagious. He led the development of great healthcare organizations that improved the lives of patients, caregivers, and the community. It was a privilege to work with Luke.
I spent 10 years on the board of Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, Illinois, working with their CEO Paul Pawlak. I served as chairman of the Silver
Cross board and witnessed the power of the organization's belief that if you can measure it, you can move it. It was thrilling to partner with Paul, his management team, and the Silver Cross board to create world-class care for the people of Joliet. It was great to be part of the team when Silver Cross was acknowledged as a Solucient Top 100 Hospital for 7 consecutive years.
I spent the last 10 years on the board of Hospira, Inc. Hospira was a new company spun from Abbott Laboratories. The founding CEO was Christopher Begley, and David Jones was the first chairman of the board. They were brilliant in their work of creating a board out of a group of strangers. I am grateful for the leadership lessons I learned through my work with these two wonderful men. Organizations endure and create many changes in a 10-year period. Hospira has continued to grow, improve, and create great healthcare products. Today we have the dynamic, warm, and motivational CEO, Mike Ball. He is a fabulous communicator who has been able to gain the admiration and dedication of employees worldwide. Being a member of the Hospira board has added significantly to my knowledge of best governance practices.
I will always be grateful to DePaul University, where I earned my master's degree in nursing many years ago. I was a recipient of their commitment to helping students discover their gifts, develop those gifts, and then use those gifts to create a better world. I have served on the DePaul University board of directors for several years. Father Dennis Holtschneider, DePaul's president, is a warm, charismatic, and tireless leader. Every time I am with Dennis, I become grateful for all of my blessings and am inspired to do more and do better. DePaul is masterful at trustee engagement and shared several of its tools in this book.
At the time of writing this book, I served as chair of the board of the DrVry Education Group. The purpose of the DeVry Education Group is to empower its students to achieve their educational and career goals. DeVry is a global provider of educational services and the parent organization of American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Becker Professional Education, Carrington College, Chamberlain College of Nursing, DeVry Brasil, DeVry University, Ross University School of Medicine, and Ross University School of Veterinary. These institutions offer a wide array of programs in business, healthcare, technology, accounting, and finance. I was a member of the DeVry board for 8 years and their board chairman for a year. While at DeVry, I also served on the boards of Ross and Chamberlain.
I am grateful to the members of the DeVry board of trustees for electing me to chair the board. Only 3% of all corporate board chairs in the U.S. are women (Catalyst, 2013), and this exceptional board had the courage and confidence to appoint a woman (and a nurse) as its chairperson! Daniel Hamburger is president and CEO of the DeVry Education Group. I am grateful for the opportunity to partner with Daniel, an intelligent, hardworking executive who believes in doing well by doing good.
I am appreciative of the nurses and search executives who have shared their governance experience and wisdom throughout this book. Their interviews are provocative, insightful, and practical—and feel like advice from a friend.
Finally, I am grateful to Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) for its dedication to nurses around the world. This book is evidence of the STTI commitment to developing and supporting nurse leaders.
For more than 20 years, Beth Ingram supported and encouraged my governance work. I am very grateful. Lin Grensing-Pophal's patience, enthusiasm, and hard work were a source of joy throughout the preparation of this book.