The 2018 ACHE Congress – Inside The Ropes

What is it like to be inside the ropes at ACHE Congress?  Some observations and thoughts from last week’s gathering of our nation’s health care leaders at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

The Board

After personally serving with this group for two years as Governor, this gathering of rock stars is more than a board of directors.  It feels like family.  I am a student of great leadership.  The learning I gather from watching Past Chairmen Ed Lamb, Chuck Stokes and current Chair David Olson feels like a doctoral degree in how to lead.  The people that make up our Board of Governors  are more than colleagues.  They do feel like family and I love being in their presence.  Brilliant health care leaders and even better people.

The Board Meeting

ACHE is a Baldridge award-winning organization, and it shows.  Under the leadership of CEO Deborah Bowen, the trains run on time.  The agenda and supporting detail is wonderfully organized by Julie Nolan and distributed well in advance of the meeting. The board spends a significant portion of our time on strategy.  Presentations from staff are concise and action-oriented.  I have thanklessly stolen many key concepts and brought them back for KSB Hospital’s Board of Directors to implement.

The Council of Regents

Saturday was an opportunity to listen to our elected leaders.  And listen we did.  With a focus on early careerists, we discussed ways to better serve our nearly 50,000 members as we each individually charge forward through our careers.


My favorite event, as over 650 ACHE members became Fellows of the College.  It’s not an easy title to gain, and it shouldn’t be.  Huge props to those professionals that earned the right to be called board certified in health care leadership.

And Then Congress Starts

Monday morning welcomed over 4,100 attendees to Congress, and it started with a bang.  The next three days offered opportunities to learn about quality, patient and staff engagement, the political atmosphere that surrounds our industry, as well as dozens of other topics.  Anita Halvorsen, ACHE Vice President of Professional Development, is the circus ring leader, and she nailed it.  My most important collective take away is a recurrent theme:  as an industry we are seeing things through the eyes of the patient, and fighting every day to improve their safety and health care experience.  I couldn’t be more proud of our profession.

ACHE Staff

ACHE employs just over 100 people, and it’s all hands on deck at Congress.  These 100 act like 1,000… and they do it with smiles.  Their work ethic and demeanor is evidence of a hiring process that is working well as they fight through fatigue as the week goes along.  And they do so with grace and pride.

The Federal Sector

I was given the gift of serving ACHE’s Federal Sector, comprised of our nation’s enlisted military.  Their honor, commitment to the health and safety of our soldiers, and love for our country was evident in every meeting I attended.  Our nation is in good hands.  Special thanks to Air Force General Jay Burks, Past Governor for the Federal Sector.  Jay and his wife, Valerie, have become lifelong friends.

Our Other Family

The support of our significant others throughout the week means everything.  Stephanie, my wife, continues to me my True North.  When I feel pretty good about myself in having the chance to be one of 16 people leading The College, she reminds me that it’s still my turn to pick up dog shit in the yard when we get back home.  I definitely out-kicked my coverage 31 years ago when Stephanie said “yes”.

So the 2018 Congress is a wrap.  Great friends, world-class education, the best staff on the planet… they all contribute towards promoting this year’s theme to “Be Part Of Something Bigger”.

It’s working.

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