Notable Women in Health Care, 2021

Honoring Women in Health Care who are leading their teams through the COVID-19 crisis.

The leaders profiled were nominated by their peers at work and in the community and showcase the diversity of talent in our market. The leadership shown by the individuals profiled here is setting an example to shape a better future for our region.

METHODOLOGY: The honorees did not pay to be included. Their profiles were drawn from nomination materials. This list features only individuals for whom nominations were submitted and accepted after a review by our editorial team. To qualify for the list, nominees must be employed at companies in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado, notable executives are running businesses, navigating company restructurings, arguing high-stakes legal cases, and finding efficiencies in manufacturing processes. These notable individuals also mentor, teach and volunteer in their communities. To view as PDF, click here.

To nominate for future Notables, click here.

Jennifer Alderfer

SCL Health

President, Good Samaritan Medical Center

Years in industry: 17

College, university: Kansas State University, University of Colorado Denver

Jennifer Alderfer has served as SCL Health’s Good Samaritan Medical Center’s president since September of 2017. Under her leadership, the hospital has consistently ranked at the highest levels nationally for safety and quality care. In August, for the first time, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette was ranked the No. 6 best hospital in Colorado and the No. 4 hospital in Denver, according to U.S. News and World Report rankings. 

“Over the past 12 to 18 months, Alderfer’s leadership has been essential to Good Samaritan’s patients, community, and associates,” said Gregg Moss, a colleague at SCL. “At the start of the pandemic, Alderfer immediately established incident management teams at the hospital that helped coordinate all the resources needed to maintain excellent patient care. Despite the extraordinary pressure and strain, at the height of the pandemic, the Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization, designated Good Samaritan as a Top General Hospital — a recognition given to only 29 hospitals nationwide.”

“In addition to her COVID-19 leadership, Alderfer has established numerous new programs and initiatives at the hospital in the past year and a half. These include the construction of a new $9 million neonatal intensive care unit, expansion of cardiovascular service lines to support more patients in Northern Colorado, a pregnancy loss memorialization program, and the launch of resiliency programs to support caregivers, which included financial support grants to help those struggling with a spouse or partner’s job loss. 

“Alderfer’s servant leadership style includes inclusivity, collaboration, and humbleness — she is always first to recognize someone else for the great work at Good Samaritan Hospital. Alderfer’s community commitments include past chair of the Go Red for Women Movement, local chambers of commerce, the ACHE Higher Education Committee, CU Denver’s Health Administration Advisory Board, and the Good Samaritan Foundation.


Karri Benedix

Bloom at Home

Agency manager

Years in industry: 13

Karri Benedix is the manager of Bloom at Home, a non-skilled home-care agency and a subsidiary of Columbine Poudre Home Care LLC. She manages approximately 25 caregivers who provide personal care to nearly 200 elderly clients in Northern Colorado. 

“Without reservation, I can confidently say that her job is one of the most difficult I have ever seen. Not only does she manage two dozen caregivers’ schedules and concerns, hundreds of client care plans, and a seemingly endless number of phone calls from all over the map, she provides a steady, guiding hand to her staff and clients, which has allowed her to garner the respect and love of hundreds of Northern Colorado’s elderly and their families,” said Isaac Bush, agency administrator for Columbine Poudre Home Care. 

“Karri has built a culture of mutual trust and camaraderie that has motivated over 75% of her staff to stay with the company for many years in an industry that faces constant turnover and employee retention issues. In addition, during the pandemic, her leadership was second to none. She is always ready to go to bat for her staff and communicates effectively to keep them abreast of the latest guidelines and rules, even if that means late-night phone calls or driving to meet a caregiver to bring protective equipment. I am confident that her company would not have seen the same success had Karri not been at the helm.”


Dr. Heather Bright-Hoffmeyer, OB/GYN

Boulder Medical Center, Boulder Community Health

Medical doctor, obstetrics and gynecology

Years in industry: 17

College, university: University of Colorado Boulder, University of Kansas Medical Center

“Dr. Heather Bright-Hoffmeyer is an exceptional physician, businesswoman, and mentor who shone even brighter during COVID. Heather, an OB/GYN at Boulder Medical Center, led her practice through the uncertainty of COVID. Although many patients delayed care early in COVID, Heather’s patients, especially those expecting children, could not forgo care — babies continued to arrive,” said Catherine Bean, a principal with Element Properties. 

“Her unparalleled bedside manner and extreme competence as a physician and surgeon make her a cherished practitioner by Boulder women. Since COVID began, Heather has delivered more than 250 babies, including eight in one day. In the past year two doctors have left Heather’s practice due to unforeseen circumstances. As the senior physician in her practice, Heather filled the gaps and guided her other partners in ensuring that patients received care. She has been on call 10 days per month recently. 

“Along with excelling as a physician, Heather understands and navigates the business side of health care. In 2020 she negotiated the return of her practice to delivering babies at Boulder Community Health. She is one of few women to sit recently on the board of Boulder Medical Center, helping lead dozens of physicians through the uncertainty of COVID. Heather has mentored dozens of women, bringing more women into the medical field. She both identifies young women’s strengths and helps them meet their full potential by setting high expectations.”

Her continuous flow of mentees are in all levels of medicine — applying to medical school, in medical school, practicing physicians. “

“Heather also remains committed to serving the vulnerable. She was the first to accept Medicaid in her practice, so many patients who can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket don’t. It’s rare to find a woman who is an exceptional physician, businesswoman, or mentor to other women. Dr. Bright-Hoffmeyer has been all three and has somehow been better at all three during COVID.”


Ashley Bruning

UCHealth

Interim CNO, perioperative senior director

Years in industry: 17

“Ashley [Bruning] has to lead our Northern Colorado region through COVID surges by ensuring our surgical patients receive the care they deserve and are safe. She looks at surgical schedules with her leadership team multiple times per day over the entirety of COVID to determine which procedures could happen and which may need to be delayed,” said Matt Putman, director of supply chain for UCHealth. 

“Ashley leads with a calm presence and makes patient-first decisions to support our communities. Through her compassion and focus, so many patients received world-class care during the COVID surges. The perioperative department at UCHealth offers the full gambit of surgical services from orthopedic to cardiac. Through Ashley’s leadership, UCHealth has been able to be recognized for its services. Ashley is deserving of this honor due to her leadership skills, her ability to influence and overall support patient care and our communities. It is an honor to work alongside Ashley Bruning. She is an outstanding leader.”


Dr. Amber Busche, OD

Aspen Eyecare

Doctor of Optometry

Years in industry: 12

College, university: University of Northern Iowa, Southern School of Optometry

Dr. Amber Busche purchased the optometry office in Estes Park in August 2019 after selling her portion of a practice in Greeley. 

“Since purchasing Aspen Eyecare, she has quickly become the well-respected and loved optometrist of our small community, offering a personal, hometown feeling when receiving all necessary optometric needs,” said optician Marybeth Bruchwalski. “Her love for her career, her patients, the mountains, and the small town that she now calls home is spread with every patient that enters her door. She strives for perfection and satisfaction of both the optometric needs as well as the eyewear fashion needs of this community.” 

Bruchwalski said tourists and visitors also benefit from her willingness to provide service to them as they experience the trails of Rocky Mountain National Park and have eyewear mishaps while doing so. “Dr. Busche meets all of her patients with a smile, 100% of her attention and is motivated by giving each individual the personal, small town feeling with the newest technology available in the optometric world. Dr. Busche deserves to be recognized as a Notable within this community as she has brought optometry to a new level in our small mountain community.”


Cyndi Dodds

SummitStone Health Partners

Chief clinical officer

Years in industry: 24

College, university: Alliant University San Diego, Colorado State University

“Cyndi Dodds, chief clinical officer at SummitStone Health Partners, is a stalwart champion for behavioral health care in Northern Colorado. In her more than two decades of clinical excellence, Cyndi has revolutionized treatment for those struggling with addiction. As a founding member of the Northern Colorado program CO-SLAW, Cyndi works to change the stigma surrounding substance abuse using a method called Medication Assisted Treatment or MAT, which has a proven track record of treating those with addiction,” said SummitStone CEO Michael Allen.

“Under Cyndi’s direction, this comprehensive MAT program in our Larimer County correctional facilities is recognized as one of the best in the country and an archetype for others.” 

Dodds began her career as a direct service provider at Island Grove Regional Treatment Center and then at Larimer County Mental Health Center. She moved into senior leadership roles as the executive director of the Namaqua Center in Loveland and currently chief clinical officer for SummitStone. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Colorado with a bachelor’s degree from Alliant University in San Diego and a master’s in human development and family studies from Colorado State University. 

“Cyndi’s dedication and influence goes well beyond her role at SummitStone. She serves on the Northern Colorado Opioid Prevention Work Group, the Larimer County Interagency Oversight Group, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council Operations Committee and CSU’s School of Social Work Advisory Board. She has held roles of distinction with the Colorado Behavioral Health Council Conference Committee and Clinical Outcomes Subcommittee, the Colorado Association of Children and Family Agencies Public Policy Committee, CAFCA Board of Directors, and the Larimer County Federation for Families board of directors. Cyndi’s passion and commitment for treating those struggling with mental health and addiction is truly profound,” Allen said.


Dr. Shauna Gulley, MD

Centura Health

Chief clinical officer

Years in industry: 15

College, university: University of Arizona

Dr. Shauna Gulley has been in charge as the incident commander for the COVID-19 response across the entire Centura Health Enterprise. She has been instrumental in setting up and leading the operations of Centura’s mass vaccine sites across Colorado and has been involved with state leaders in providing guidance and advocacy around vaccinations and COVID-19 protocols. 

“Dr. Gulley is also in charge of leading our organization’s high reliability efforts across Colorado and Kansas. Her leadership has been instrumental in Centura Health’s journey on quality and safety,” said Centura CEO Isaac Sendros.

“Throughout the pandemic, our hospitals have seen improvements in their Leapfrog scores (currently we have nine Leapfrog A hospitals across Colorado) as well as our CMS star rating. Dr. Gulley also continues to practice pediatric medicine at her practice located at Parker Adventist Hospital. Dr. Gulley is a transformative leader who is able to inspire change by being authentic, living the mission of our organization and by collaborating with others. We are blessed to have Dr. Gulley lead our clinical efforts across Centura Health,” he said.


Avril Hayes

Bross Street Assisted Living

Direct care professional

Years in industry: 27

College, university: St. Clair, Windsor, Ontario

“Avril [Hayes] is a model employee who any organization would enjoy,” said Bross administrator Lilianna Moon.

“She has worked in the direct care industry for 27 years, and in this time, she has learned how to not only competently care for seniors, but address their emotional needs. She comes to work everyday ready for any challenge, and always has an upbeat attitude. She navigates changes and challenges with ease, and continues to search for new ways to enhance the lives of those around her — whether that is with a joke, a special gift based on a conversation with a resident, or simply her attentive silence. 

“She is the first person to make calls when they are required, in order to communicate any potential issues before they become larger health problems. Avril impacts Boulder Valley, because at our facility, she adds a quality of life to our resident’s lives that goes beyond her job description. The seniors she serves know she enjoys their company, and they feel ‘seen.’

“During the pandemic, she was reliable and very conscious of the need for stability, during a very unsettling time. She is the type of person who goes above and beyond, because it feels right to her. She worked tirelessly alongside her team to help ensure that our infection control policies were followed specifically, even when that meant having difficult conversations with those who needed more education on our efforts. Her leadership style is down to earth, and she leads by example. Her success is largely based on the fact that she loves what she does, and she is passionate about supporting older people. I wish all senior citizens had the benefit of having an Avril Hayes in their lives to help.”


Chris Heuston

Front Range Community College

Director of health-care apprenticeships

Years in industry: 26

Chris Heuston has spent the past several years building up Front Range Community College’s health-care apprenticeship programs, specifically working with health-care employers and students to create “learn as you earn” training programs in allied health. 

“Hospitals, medical centers, physician offices and more are getting much needed talent and building up their training infrastructure, while students are getting to replace classroom time with paid, on-the-job experience,” said her nominator, Connie Waldau of the Boulder Chamber. 

“Chris has been passionate about finding opportunities for her students in health care and finding the right students for our health-care providers. During COVID, when much of the education system was remote and labs delayed completion for many students, Chris was able to support apprentice completion at the hospitals in a time when they were in high demand. Students were able to stay employed and finish on-time, while the hospitals had much needed assistance to deploy in areas of need during the pandemic. 

“In partnership with others in the community, Chris is working with Boulder Medical Center, Boulder Community Health, Centura and other medical providers in the area to find a solution for talent shortages in sterile processing, surgical tech, and other allied health fields. Her background in both health care and education makes her a great partner for Workforce Boulder County, Boulder Chamber and the Boulder County Healthcare Sector Partnership, to name a few, because we are all able to put in motion real work-based learning solutions that are impacting our businesses and our local citizens.”


Sheri Jernigan

The Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado

Nurse

Years in industry: 11

College, university: University of Northern Colorado

Sheri Jernigan began working at the Women’s Clinic when she was just 14 years old mowing the lawn. She then moved up to courier. She eventually worked her way to the front desk before going to school at UNC in Greeley. 

“Sheri Jernigan is the most compassionate and caring person. Last year when COVID was just starting to emerge in early March, this wonderful lady at a 4-H Carnival held at The Ranch went around and posted signs about hand sanitizing and COVID before anyone in the community really knew about COVID. She informed people of the seriousness of COVID and how to be safe,” said friend Cindy Burkardt, president of Construction Supply House. 

“As long as I have known her she has always thought about others. She goes above and beyond to make sure every patient feels comfortable and cared about. She will stay with patients even if it is after hours to make sure they are feeling comfortable enough to leave. She will call up clients on her own time and remind them that is it for their checkups. As a foster/adopt parent, Sherri always made sure I had a well-stocked first aid supply box. When I had questions about any of my kids I knew I could call Sherri for advice and she would either give me the advice or point me in the right direction to get the information I needed. Everyone is family to her.”


Holly Johnson

Columbine Poudre Home Care LLC

Clinical director

Years in industry: 19

College, university: Colorado State University

“Holly [Johnson] helped guide the agency’s strategic redesign during the pandemic, which enabled the company to achieve a 167% profitability increase with zero layoffs or furloughs,” said Isaac Bush, administrator of the agency in nominating Johnson. 

“During that time, Holly empowered her team to navigate the complexities of the pandemic successfully with zero staff-to-clinician COVID infections and zero staff infections originating from a patient source. This accomplishment was a testament to her tenacity and passionate proponent concern for her team’s wellbeing. The combination of staff retention and evidence-based infection control protocols allowed her team and the agency to treat nearly 2,000 home-bound patients in the greater Fort Collins area over the past 18 months. 

“All the while, Holly exhibited unparalleled grace and patience as health-care guidance changed daily, managing staff stress — and her own — and helping her team avoid caregiver burnout. She took problems in stride and was not quick to judge when the actions of those around her seemingly fed the never-ending health-care battle. I am proud that she is our team leader and feel grateful for her steady approach and commitment to excellence,” he said.


Stephanie Jorgensen

UCHealth

Respiratory therapy supervisor, PVH

Years in industry: 17

“I want to recognize Stephanie [Jorgensen] for her resilience and dedication to the respiratory department during this pandemic,” said Marilyn Schaefer, respiratory therapy director.

“She stepped up and into the lead role when it was most unexpected. She led her team and collaborated with other units and facilities to ensure that staff, equipment and her colleagues were taken care of. This being a respiratory pandemic, we were all stretched to the limit but it should not go unnoticed that respiratory, as a team, touched the majority of the COVID-19 patients who came through the doors. She handled it with grace, poise and true leadership that we need during this time,” Schaefer said.


Cori
Layton

Ensight Skills Center

Director of rehabilitation

Years in industry: 25

College, university: Colorado State University

Cori Layton is an occupational therapist and director of rehabilitation for the Ensight Skills Center and Curtis Strong Center. For more than 20 years, Layton has used her training and skills to help people learn to adapt to life changing conditions. In 2004, she joined Ensight Skills Center as a low vision occupational therapist. 

“For the past 16 years, Cori has worked with more than 5,000 patients who have visual impairments to overcome obstacles, find new skills, adapt old skills, and learn adaptive technologies that will help them stay safe and independent,” said Melody Bettenhausen, chief operating officer of Ensight. “On top of the great care provider and practitioner that Cori is, she is a wonderful mother, wife, friend, daughter, and receives many praises from the patients whose lives she touches. Cori has worked with the team at Ensight to create a comprehensive program that allows for the best resources, training, and goal outcomes so that our patients and their families may find some peace. 

“Activities of daily living are hard when you lose a function, but Cori walks through these challenges with everyone she helps. Cori is a leader and has helped keep Northern Colorado residents safe to remain in their homes. We just adore Cori and love the energy she brings to the health-care field each and every day.”


Dr. Amie Meditz, MD

Boulder Community Health/Beacon Center for Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases physician

Years in industry: 22

College, university: Austin College, University of Texas Southwestern

“As a nurse practitioner and hospitalist at Boulder Community Health, I have collaborated with Dr. Amie Meditz for more than eight years, caring for acutely ill patients presenting all types of infections, including COVID,” said Annette Montoya, a certified nurse practitioner. “She has elevated our ability to care for COVID patients during the pandemic. She provides care that goes far beyond the norm. She gets to know her patients, their families and their fears, treating everyone with respect.”

“I consider her clinical understanding and delivery of care to be beyond exceptional. Simply put, patients get better under her care. It is an honor to observe this and to partner with her in caring for our community. 

“To describe the gift of Dr. Meditz to me personally is hard, especially when reflecting on the challenges of COVID over the past 18 months. She has been a source of strength for me personally and her colleagues. Her guidance on how to treat this illness has been invaluable. During this scary and uncertain season, she treats everyone with great respect, educating our care teams, strengthening our skills and deepening our competency. This was no easy task under trying circumstances, all under masks and other personal protective gear we don day in and day out. Dr. Meditz holds strong through every trial we encounter and celebrates our triumphs. 

“She has been at my side when I had to call families to let them know their loved one would die, often alone, and has wept with me during these losses. Dr. Meditz has been a safety net to me and all her colleagues. She helped me, and many others, survive the darkest days of COVID, selflessly and tirelessly giving her knowledge, strength and assurance that we will get through it together.”

Dr. Meditz was nominated by five individuals. Another of them, Alicia Maltzman, reviewed her professional history.

“After beginning her career as a physician scientist at the University of Colorado studying HIV in women, she joined BCH as an ID physician in 2013. Since then, her accomplishments include receiving the Astute Clinician Award from CDPHE, the Pharmacy Residency Preceptor Award, and the BCH Leadership Award. She serves as co-chair/founder of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program and has been a physician leader for the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care.”

“Once after a 16+ hour day, I asked how she was doing. She responded that she felt like this was what she had been training for her whole life; it was clear she would do whatever it took.” She created a pilot project to assess asymptomatic COVID-19 infection in health care workers, secured funding to add air purifiers in poorly ventilated locations throughout BCH, and released the 2021 Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidebook with adaptations specific to COVID-19. 


Lisa Melby

Good Samaritan Society, Loveland Village

Senior director

Years in industry: 33

College, university: Augustana University, University of North Texas

“Lisa Melby, senior director of Loveland Village, has been an outstanding leader for 33 years, but leading a retirement community during a pandemic has proven that she’s extraordinary. Her positive attitude and innovative ideas have kept both residents and staff informed and calmed about COVID-19 and the associated fears,” said Holly Turner, senior living manager at the facility.

“She stands up for what she believes and encourages others to believe in themselves. She takes the time to promote growth and development for everyone. She is not only a servant leader, she is an engaged leader. She makes it a point to learn and get to know staff and residents, and the lives of family members as well. 

“Once the pandemic hit, she implemented daily communication huddles and continues to encourage safety, infection prevention, education, and most of all, the reassurance that we are all in this together. Her door is always open and she is eager to put residents first, knowing that this is their home.” 

Melby is president of Leading Age Colorado and remains active in endorsing legislation that promotes wellbeing for seniors. She sits on the Good Samaritan Society Board of Directors and is a member and volunteer of her church. 

“She is a visionary and seeks new ways to enrich the lives of those she serves. She leads renovation and building projects that help to make Loveland Village a place where seniors not only want to live, but a place they never want to leave. She encourages innovation and is open to new ideas that allow the Village to step into new frontiers,” Turner said.


Yvonne Myers

Columbine Health Systems

Health systems director

Years in industry: 35

College, university: Colorado State University

“Yvonne [Myers] is the COVID-19 vaccination champion for our Columbine Health Systems. She organized clinics to vaccinate all our residents and staff. She obtained the necessary equipment, including a specific refrigerator, to properly store and safely distribute vaccines,” said office manager Keri Travis.

“She negotiated with community partners to vaccinate our independent and patio home residents during an onsite vaccination clinic, eliminating the need for these residents to travel long distances to be vaccinated. She was present at each clinic we hosted to provide support and comfort to both residents and staff waiting to be inoculated. Yvonne quickly communicated with staff about last minute vaccinations that were available at clinics, eliminating wasting doses.

“It is because of her community connections, effort, and determination that we were able to meet our goal of having 98% of our residents and 95% of our staff vaccinated by our April 1, 2021, company-mandated vaccination goal.”

Myers serves on the Northern Colorado Health Sector Partnership Committee, Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce, Northern Colorado Advisory Board, and UCHealth Northern Colorado Foundation Board to name a few, as well as a long-time supporter of Colorado State University and demonstrated advocate for the senior population of the region. 

“Yvonne has defined herself as a backbone within our organization and community, as she supports each person by taking the time to help them succeed. She can captivate an audience with her excellent sense of humor, expressive language, and personal stories. Her transparency and ever-present optimism leaves a lasting impact on each person she encounters, and by sharing her own, brings out the amazing traits and qualities of others. Yvonne leads with action, compassion, and strength,” Travis said.

Read more Yvonne Myers stories.

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Judy Peinado

Workwell Occupational Medicine

Chief operations officer

Years in industry: 25

“Judy [Peinado] has been an integral part of Workwell’s growth over the past 25 years. Starting as a front office specialist, Judy has moved through the ranks of Workwell into her current role of chief operations officer,” said co-worker Nate Johnson, director of business development.

“Growing from one clinic to now seven across the Front Range, Judy’s operational leadership has been paramount in making Workwell the largest independent, exclusively occupational medicine company in Colorado. Her passion for providing Colorado’s workforce with superior occupational health services is her motivation for leading Workwell clinic teams in executing a great experience for both Colorado employers and their employees. 

“Most recently, Judy had spearheaded a telemedicine platform for Workwell that supported the positive outcomes in work comp cases through the pandemic. Judy has also championed various efficiencies that make it easier for patients and clients to get the care they deserve all while improving the Workwell’s carbon footprint through technological implementations. Judy continues to inspire the now 95 employees Workwell has with her high integrity and supportive nature.”


Carol Plock

Health District of Northern Larimer County

Executive director

Years in industry: 27

College, university: Adams State University, University of Minnesota-Duluth

“As the COVID-19 pandemic bore down on Northern Colorado in March 2020, Carol [Plock] prioritized the quick transition to remote virtual care, ensuring continuity of critical services. She also redeployed the Health District’s medical director and many staff to the temporary homeless shelter at Northside Aztlan Community Center in Fort Collins, where they oversaw COVID-19 screening among guests and coordinated isolation, recovery, and quarantine services that protected a vulnerable population and helped prevent spread of the virus in the community. This commitment continued for a year to two other facilities in Fort Collins and Loveland operated in partnership with Homeward Alliance,” said district communications director Richard Cox. 

“Carol was a prime catalyst in the development of the Mental Health and Substance Use Alliance of Larimer County, a community-wide effort to coordinate improved access to mental health and substance use services that has been active since 1999. One outcome of this was the Health District’s Connections program, a mental health and substance use resource for the community whose free telephone service became Larimer County’s official ‘warm’ (non-crisis) COVID-19 emotional support line in 2020. With the pandemic exacting a growing mental health toll on the community, Carol convened a group of local public and private mental health providers in summer 2020 to strategize an intensive public outreach campaign to raise awareness and increase utilization of the Connections support line,” Cox said.

“Carol not only shares her passionate vision for better health care with staff, partners and community members, she also translates the big picture into creative and effective strategies resulting in sustainable systemic improvements in health care. Carol has boundless faith in the power of cooperative problem solving, both among staff and among community stakeholders. She doesn’t easily conclude that something can’t be done — only that we haven’t figured out a way to do it yet.”


Jill Postel

UC Health

Physicians assistant

Years in industry: 24

College, university: University of Iowa

“Jill Postel in her capacity as physician’s assistant is a true diagnostician, which is rare in today’s medical environment. Jill will spend as much time as needed and do whatever it takes to help find the right path toward improved health for each of her patients. She listens to her patients, has an impeccable bedside manner, provides a level of compassion that provides the comfort patients need during challenging times. When referrals are warranted, she will take the time to speak to the doctor she’s referring to so there is no gap in care, information and to ensure patients don’t feel like they are being handed into the medical abyss, which can be very intimidating for patients,” said Melanie Meador, CEO of Redeam Inc. and a patient of Postel’s.

“During COVID, when the front-line workers were under immense strain, she remained a present force for her patients and stayed at the forefront of research, providing her patients with the most up to date and relevant information and protocols. Jill’s colleagues trust her medical opinion, often refer to her for consultations and speak very highly of her in her role. In addition to her role as PA with UC Health, she also serves as a consultant to the state of Colorado to help curtail the opioid abuse epidemic in the world today. 

“I have struggled with random and uncorrelated health issues my entire life. Countless doctors, years of misdiagnosis, and Jill was the one who found my underlying causes and created a holistic plan that allowed me to gain my health back. I have spoken to countless others who can make the same claim. Jill truly is the absolute best medical professional in the state and should be recognized accordingly.


Dr. Elise
Rigney, DC

Impact Chiropractic

Owner, chiropractor

Years in industry: 10

College, university: University of Minnesota, Northwestern Health Sciences University

“Dr. Elise [Rigney] exemplifies leadership in Northern Colorado. She opened her clinic in 2012 and currently leads the only all-female team of doctors in her field. She has navigated the last 18 months with strength and grace through COVID, leading her team all while taking maternity leave as well,” said Amanda Wicker, a colleague from Facette Limited.

“When she saw other chiropractors struggling within their practices, she created Chirointensive, a full course on scaling, growing and making a profit so others doctors could survive and thrive in this time, when she could have been solely focused on her own business. She makes balancing all these things plus her beautiful family look easy when, really, she is driven by her love for her team, clients, and community to make it the best.”

“Her clinic focuses on total health including strong immunity and has a specialty in pediatric care and infertility. She has been a strong voice in our small business community over the past 18 months helping and supporting other small business growth in the hardest time we have all seen. In the midst of this she has invested in her team with education and is even expanding to a second location in Loveland to continue small business growth in Northern Colorado. Although I am older than her, I strive to be more like her when I grow up.


Marilyn Schock

UCHealth

President, UCHealth Greeley Hospital

Years in industry: 30

College, university: Colorado State University

“Marilyn [Schock] has been instrumental in expanding health-care services throughout Northern Colorado,” said Kevin Unger, CEO of UCHealth in Northern Colorado. “First with her time at McKee Medical Center and Banner Health where she acted as the president/CEO, and now with UCHealth. Marilyn was the driving force in opening and managing the new UCHealth Greeley Hospital. 

“Her tireless work opened the hospital on time even with unexpected delays. She has developed not only the facility but also has crafted a culture that strives for excellence. Marilyn has also put in countless hours and inspired her team as she has led her team through the COVID-19 pandemic. She is committed to the community through her work with Aims Community College, the Greeley Chamber and Sunrise Community Health. She is a driving force in the Greeley community and a relentless advocate for patients. 

“I want to thank Marilyn for her tireless work to better the lives of our patients throughout Northern Colorado,” Unger said.

A former colleague, Chris Rogers, senior vice president at Torrance Memorial Health System, called her “among the best work partners I’ve known in my professional career. She has a high degree of integrity and commitment to her work and the people she works with.”


Dr. Jacquelyn Schorling, DC, FASA

Natural Living Chiropractic & Acupuncture

Owner, chiropractor

Years in industry: 7

College, university: University of Nebraska, Cleveland Chiropractic College

“Dr. Jacquelyn Schorling is proud to be a chiropractor in the beautiful community of Windsor. As a small child, Dr. Jaci knew she wanted to be a doctor. While attending the University of Nebraska, she attended a course where she was introduced to chiropractic. She developed a passion for this natural healing art and knew, undoubtedly, it was her life’s calling,” said Stacy Miller, director of economic development for the town of Windsor. 

“Her education continued at Cleveland Chiropractic College, where she received her doctorate of Chiropractic. During her first trimester in chiropractic college, Dr. Jaci was presented with an opportunity to perform a four-year internship at the world renowned Acupuncture Society of America. While at the ASA, Dr. Jaci received more than 800 hours of clinical training under Dr. Richard Yennie, the pioneer of Chiropractic Acupuncture. Dr. Yennie introduced acupuncture to the chiropractic profession in the 1950s.”

“Dr. Schorling is honored to be certified in chiropractic acupuncture and is a Fellow of the Acupuncture Society of America. Dr. Jaci is eager to improve the quality of life within her community by rising to meet the needs of her patients.”

Schorling has specialized training in infant and pediatrics, infertility acupuncture, auriculotherapy, extremity adjusting and wellness instruction. She is extending her prenatal and pediatric expertise through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.

While she has a family practice, Schorling also works with a wide range of athletes, from weekend warriors to professional and elite. She has experience working with local middle and high school teams, as well as marathon runners and triathletes. As a tennis enthusiast, Schorling has first-hand experience with chiropractic improving her athletic performance.


Donna Sigmond

East West Wellness

Owner, practitioner

Years in industry: 22

College, university: University of Texas-Austin, Pacific College of Medicine, San Diego

“Donna Sigmond is one of the most accomplished, compassionate and driven women that I have ever met. She has been more than just a boss; she has been a mentor in my own growth as a practitioner and as a person, as well as the guiding light to many patients,” said co-worker Kaely Shull. 

Sigmond has been a registered dietitian for 22 years and a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist for 17 years. “Donna is very passionate about setting everyone up for success and being proactive about health rather than reactive. I remember sitting in her office last year and listening to her go on about creating a program to help those who are most vulnerable (addicts, elderly, children, etc.) Donna’s dream came true as she is currently working with Metropolitan State University of Denver as a co-investigator of The Amino Detox Program, a pilot study on ‘The Effect of Increased Protein Intake at Breakfast Combined with Nutrition Education on the Reduction of Substance Abuse Relapse.’ While still in the last stages of getting fully approved, this program will be a game-changer for the addiction community,” Shull said.

“I’ve always admired her drive and spirit to help all those around us. During her doctorate program, she became invested in the housing issue for the elderly and widowed, leading EWW to become affiliated in a special housing program called Silvernest. For years she has offered a low-cost adjunct therapy to help quit smoking called the NADA protocol. This protocol has also been beneficial in helping with all types of addiction, stress management, support for PTSD sufferers, and more. These sessions are free for all veterans and active military. There are never enough words to describe the impact that Donna has on all those around her. She is a leader, a teacher, but most importantly a healer.”


Wendy Sparks

Banner Health

Chief operating officer

Years in industry: 23

College, university: Colorado State University, Grand Canyon University

“Wendy [Sparks] has been the incident commander and the face of steady, strong leadership in Banner NoCo throughout the COVID pandemic. Her dedication to patients and fellow staff members has been unwavering during these past 18 months,” said Carol Salter, director of business development for Banner. 

“Wendy has led in visitor strategies, PPE, staffing models, standing up additional ICU units, and the list goes on. Her work on staffing and beds has allowed us to care for the many patients who sought care at Banner during this difficult time,” Salter said in the nomination. 

Sparks is a member of Banner committees that impact patients not only in Colorado but in Wyoming, Arizona, Nebraska, California and Nevada. “Her tenured leadership makes her a source of knowledge for others within our organization. Wendy’s leadership style is one of tenacity and compassion, strength and kindness, resolve and grace. She does hard things but can still show empathy and respect. Wendy finds time to show joy and create joy in the lives of our patients and fellow employees. She is ready to recognize the accomplishments of others and she is greatly admired. She is the type of leader who others will follow without hesitation.”


Dr. Brittney Statler, MD

Eye Center of Northern Colorado

Medical doctor, retina specialist

Years in industry: 6

College, university: Creighton University, Creighton University School of Medicine

“Dr. [Brittney] Statler’s education and honorifics speak for themselves, but it’s impossible to quantify the value of her work ethic and depth of her compassion for her patients. She took a huge risk and moved to Northern Colorado mid-pandemic and quickly became a leader among the doctors at Eye Center of Northern Colorado,” said colleague Marshall Perryman of Panorama Eye Care.

“Retina specialists have a difficult job; their patients are rarely happy to start off. Dr. Statler excels at informing patients and building a relationship of trust early on. Her staff and coworkers value her opinion and genuinely enjoy working alongside her. 

“I first met Dr. Statler when she was voluntarily giving a public talk at a retirement community about Diabetic Retinopathy & Macular Degeneration, where she stayed late to answer everyone’s questions (and with a topic like that, you can bet there were a lot of questions). She’s an all around awesome person. and we’re so lucky to have her in Northern Colorado,” Perryman said.

Honors include Women in Retina AAO Retina Subspecialty Day Travel Grant; 2019 Sunil Rao MD Research Scholarship, Division of Ophthalmology, Brown University; 2019 Recipient Positive Learning Environment Champion, Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University. She is or was a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Society of Retina Specialists, Women in Ophthalmology, Women in Retina.


Crystal Strasburg

Senior Helpers of Northern Colorado

Caregiver manager

Years in industry: 10

College, university: University of Northern Colorado

“Crystal [Strasburg] is a phenomenal leader to the 80+ caregivers she manages. On a weekly basis, she mentors caregivers, does in-person training, collaborates with her peers, and creates a healthy environment for her coworkers. She is always available to counsel caregivers for grief, daily responsibilities, and changes in care,” said colleague Emily LeBlanc.

“She has an amazing retention record for caregivers to provide care for the community due to her extensive efforts in mentoring and providing resources for these individuals. Crystal is a constant presence in Parkinson’s Support Groups throughout Northern Colorado. She also donates her time to different dementia and Alzheimer’s groups. These include Dementia Together and Alzheimer’s Association. 

“Other than that, she provides essential services to about 120 older adults in Northern Colorado due to training their daily caregivers. Crystal truly leads by example. She was a caregiver for about seven years because she cared about the older adults she helped. Since she’s moved into an office position, she helps out wherever needed. This means that she fills in for scheduling, caregiving, and other roles when her clients need her. But, most importantly, she makes sure that all of her caregivers and colleagues are emotionally healthy so that they are capable of handling day-to-day work.”


Whitney Swander

Hearing Health Centers

Audiologist and owner

Years in industry: 21

Dr. Whitney Swander is the owner of seven hearing health clinics throughout the state of Colorado. “During COVID, Whitney was a leader we could all count on. Her main objective when business shut down was, ‘we are going to support our team and patients during this difficult time.’ She arranged drop off services for our patients to limit contact but still provide services. She also went even further than that and had our team calling patients to check in on them, wishing them a happy birthday, or to just make sure they had everything they needed,” said co-worker Therese Montecalvo, director of operations for the company.

“We work primarily with a senior population, and Whitney didn’t want anyone to feel more isolated than they already can with hearing loss. She hired more people in 2020 to provide jobs and focused on all of her staff’s mental well being,” Montecalvo said.

“Aside from supporting her business, employees and patients, Whitney is a huge advocate for her church and local community. We continued to produce our monthly newsletter with positive messages and outreach for those who needed it. As her director of operations, I can honestly say that Whitney made the shut down as pleasant as she could and worked even harder than I could have imagined. She is a wonderful boss, person and leader. Her determination to make this world a better place is exhilarating and you can see her passion in everything she does.”


Carli Taylor-Drake

Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies

Director of marketing and practice development

Years in industry: 10

College, university: Colorado State University

“Carli [Taylor-Drake] is an exceptional woman in health care. Not only does she head up the marketing for all three locations for Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies (Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley), but she headed up the marketing merger between Front Range Orthopedics in 2021 and now heads up all of the marketing for the organization’s additional three locations (Longmont, Lafayette, and Westminster),” said colleague Vallene Kailburn of Old Town Media.

“She is an avid philanthropist, giving back to all of the organizations that OCR supports including Bump & Bruise Clinic for St. Vrain Valley student-athletes, OSI Cycling Team sponsor, caring for the employees of Mountain View Fire and Rescue, food drives, clinic surveys-food bank donations, and many other OCR events. In addition, she kept the entire organization going during the pandemic. Even when the entire organization had to shut down for a month, Carli was there with her positive attitude and leadership keeping things running from a marketing standpoint. Her dedication and drive never cease to amaze me.”

Julie Mejia, marketing coordinator for OCR, said Taylor-Drake’s impact has been felt widely. “She was recognized by St. Jude Hospital in December of 2020 as she became part of the driving force in fundraising within the Northern Colorado area for St.Jude’s Research Hospital. She has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars within the time frame she has been involved and continues to be part of the life force behind the unified support of this cause.”

Mejia said Taylor-Drake is a notable notably involvphilanthropist within the UCHealth WISH program. Its members pool funds to support the health needs of our Northern Colorado community through UCHealth programs, partnerships and services provided in Larimer and Weld counties. 

Additionally, she is on the community advisory board for KUNC, a non-profit radio station in Northern Colorado, to support the station’s independent voice. Carli has implemented projects within her own organization bringing OCR partners together for a greater cause, an example being the OCR Buddy Bears. While the women of Northern Colorado are in unity behind the noteworthy impact that is made within our community, what I have shared with you is only a small fraction of the earnest work Carli puts into the positive impact hundreds of individuals experience within our counties’ borders. Her efforts are nothing short of commendable and exemplary.


Grace Taylor

UCHealth

Vice President of Operations

Years in industry: Xx

College, university: University of Victoria in British Columbia; University of Colorado at Denver

Grace K. Taylor is Vice President of Operations for UCHealth, with responsibility over several areas at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins and Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, including imaging, laboratory, hospitality, community health improvement, sleep labs, performance improvement, family medicine center and guest services. Grace also supports four affiliate hospitals with management services agreements that are located in Wyoming and Nebraska. Previous roles included system Vice President of Physician Relations and Community Outreach at UCHealth, and Chief Strategy Officer for Poudre Valley Health System (now part of UCHealth), encompassing strategy, business development and growth, marketing, communications, and outreach. Grace holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Victoria in British Columbia and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado at Denver. Prior to UCHealth, she was employed with Laboratories at Bonfils (LABs Inc is now part of VRL Eurofins), a premier transplant medicine reference laboratory working in quality management, histocompatibility and infectious disease testing, flow cytometry and other areas. Professional and civic organizational memberships include Fellowship status with the American College of Healthcare Executives, Rotary Club of Fort Collins, vice-chair of the Food Bank for Larimer County and board member of the BBB serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming. Grace is married and enjoys spending time on the sideline lines of soccer fields watching her two daughters, relaxing in the mountains and traveling.


Ginny Wailes

Banner Health

Nurse, UNC Nursing Program

Years in industry: 30

College, university: Colorado Christian University

Ginny Wailes has been a nurse for more than 30 years. She is a lead staff member on the float team for Banner Health. In this role she is assigned to any regional hospital, and only finds out where she is working the night before. She bails out departments that are short staffed and have emergency staffing needs.

“This role necessitates a great deal of knowledge and experience as you could be working anywhere from the emergency room, to the ICU, to the burn unit, to OB/Gyn deliveries,” said Chris Kottenstette, a friend who works at the Colorado Spine Institute. 

“In her role, she has to adapt to great challenges, work with a variety of different people everyday, and handle all this in stride. Because she is ‘the float’ she is often assigned the worst jobs on the unit, as are most float personnel. She has been caring for COVID-19 patients in a high percentage of her assignments and has gotten and recovered from the COVID-19 illness, twice,” Kottenstette said. 

“She had three of her ICU COVID patients die before noon on a recent shift. This is not uncommon. She leads her team at the hospital, and in addition, she is an instructor for the nursing program at UNC and will often have student nurses she is teaching while doing these other demanding tasks. She picks up extra shifts regularly and is a true team player, placing her life at risk daily to help those she so loves to care for — her patients. 

“Her daughter is also a nurse. She makes her colleagues laugh, and is an esteemed coworker for many. She considers nursing a true calling for her, and truly enjoys her job.


Stephanie Wuerker

The DRIPBar

Lead nurse

Years in industry: 28

“Stephanie [Wuerker] joined The DRIPBaR as the lead nurse as the IV Therapy Center was launching. She has been instrumental in getting the business off the ground,” said Josh Fulenwider, director of independent living for Connections for Independent Living. 

“This has required a ton of education and research on Stephanie’s part, which she has done without complaint. Once she learns something she then turns around and passes that information onto the rest of the team. She has implemented vitamin of the month training to ensure that the whole staff is thoroughly learning about each vitamin offered. She also has done a lot of self experimentation with IV Therapy to be able to communicate better with the customers. 

“During stressful situations she keeps calm and takes charge. It is often difficult to lead a small team spread out over many days but Stephanie has managed to stitch them together and make them feel like a family. Her positive energy is contagious among both the staff members and customers. I cannot think of someone more deserving to be recognized.”