Leading With Hope
Story 135

Adventist Health leaders gathered on October 11 and 12 for quarterly planning at Executive Mission Formation and Operations Council.

By Kim Strobel and Kirsten Cutler

“Today is about hope, muscular hope,” said Alex Bryan, Chief Mission Officer for Adventist Health, “This is a time to confront challenges and seize opportunities.”

Bryan’s comments kicked off the fourth quarter Adventist Health Executive Mission Formation (EMF) event on October 11, held at the system offices in Roseville, Calif. EMF is designed to help executives manage the company in ways that are aligned with the Adventist Health mission identity. The agenda for the day was built around the theme “Practitioners of Hope” and included practical messages and activities for thinking about, resting in, and leading with hope.

Sam Leonor, Adventist Health’s Mission Identity and Spiritual Care Executive, spoke about internal hope, encouraging the nearly 200 executives in attendance to pursue the work needed to live and lead with competent, strong, and peaceful hope. Leonor’s session ended with attendees participating in a prayer walk on the paths outside system headquarters to focus on our need of God.

Ted Hamilton, Chief Mission Integration Officer for AdventHealth, spoke about the ethics of hope and focusing on our privilege as healthcare providers to bring people hope. “Christian hope is hope lived in, with, and by love,” said Hamilton. “Its extremes are reflected best by Job who had hope against hope as opposed to despair.”

Bryan concluded the day with a practical message about leading with hope. He challenged executives to live each day making choices to exist in a positive space, to remember why they do their work by telling the great stories that happen every day at Adventist Health, to expand their perspective, and to lead with excellence.

Throughout the day, more than 20 Adventist Health executives spoke eloquently in response to these messages about hope. “My hope comes from all my past experiences and how God has been with me through the hard times,” said Adrian Serna, President of Adventist Health Physician Services.

“Hope is a verb,” said Sonja Reyna, Operations Executive for Adventist Health Central Valley Network. “It’s something you practice. It takes prayer, intentional practice, discipline. Hope becomes real when you look at your past experiences, tie them all together, and see how God has been with you.”

Mission Leadership Resident Katie Wagner encouraged executives to ask themselves, “Who is my hope in? Who is empowering me in my hope? Who fills my hope reservoir? What does this hope move me to do?”

“Hope is what allows me to take the next step, to take the next breath,” said Judy Leach, President of Adventist Health Mendocino Coast. “Hope is not a fluffy word. It is an important strategy.”

Stephanie Stuart, MD, Medical Officer at Adventist Health Sonora, said “Even in the most dire of circumstances we should care for our patients and give them hope that tomorrow is a better day.”

Adventist Health President and CEO Kerry L. Heinrich closed the day. “Our challenges are real, but our hope is based on reality,” he said. “It’s that intangible that drives us to do something that in so many ways probably we shouldn’t be able to do. This is not unrealistic hope, not fantasy. It doesn’t just work out because we hope it will; it works out because we roll up our sleeves, we work the problems, and we are true to our mission. That’s what today is about. A day spent focusing on that mission is the most important time we can spend.” 

On October 12, nearly 150 leaders gathered for Operations Council to plan and cast a vision for the next quarter. Joyce Newmyer, Adventist Health’s Chief People Officer and President of Oregon State Network, shared the vision of Human Resources, covering topics including workforce trends, policy updates, and employee engagement. “We are committed to a flexible and sustainable work arrangement​ by enabling Adventist Health to successfully acquire and retain talent, and for our teams to best connect and collaborate in driving business outcomes and achieving our mission,” Newmyer said.

A panel of leaders led by Dr. Dexter Shurney, Chief Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer at Adventist Health, discussed creating a future of greater inclusion and how to share that responsibility and competency across the organization. They celebrated our diversity as an organization, starting with learning about focused efforts and dedicated teams around building and integrating an overall diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy so every employee feels respected, appreciated, and treated with dignity.

Adventist Health’s Chief Financial Officer, John Beaman, provided an overview of our financial performance, cost trends, and forecast for the months ahead. Beaman was joined by Revenue Cycle Executive, Shannon Yasseri, for a presentation on revenue management as we better define revenue cycle ownership and collective responsibilities. Dr. Arby Nahapetian, Chief Clinical Officer for Adventist Health, continued the conversation of revenue management with insight into process improvement to better mitigate denials, and Jennifer Stemmler, Chief Digital Officer, provided an update on Adventist Health’s single domain project as we continue to standardize workflows and implement go-lives at the markets.

To close the day, Tim Olaore, Leadership Resident and Internship Programs Director, recognized the accomplishment of Adventist Health’s first cohort of leadership residents, and Kerry L. Heinrich challenged attendees to help grow and develop the diverse leaders of our future.

The next session of EMF and Operations Council is scheduled for Feb. 7 and 8, 2023.