This week we’re having a conversation with Dr. Scott Daniels, Performance Improvement Coordinator at the State of Hawaii Office of Primary Care and Rural Health.
“Providing care in a culturally appropriate way is something that really gets stressed a lot in Hawaii, particularly in the rural areas.”
Scott Daniels, Ph.D., has been in health care over eighteen years where he began as an analyst doing community health reports and analyzing hospital quality. In 2005, Scott began working for the Hawaii Office of Primary Care and Rural Health as the Performance Improvement Coordinator, where he oversees the state’s Flex program. He also served as interim chief of the office from 2006 to 2008.
Within the state, Scott has served on the Legislature’s Telehealth task force and on the Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center’s Advisory Board. He currently sits on the Hawaii Trauma Advisory Committee.
Nationally, Scott has served on the Rural Health Works advisory committee and on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the National Organization for State Offices of Rural Health, where he served as a president from 2015 through 2017. He currently serves on the advisory committees for the Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC) and on the Board of Trustees for the National Rural Health Association.
Scott earned his BA in Political Science from the University of Montana and his MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Scott lives on the Big Island of Hawaii where he passes time until the next natural disaster by brewing beer, raising chickens, and battling with his yard.
This week we’re having a conversation with Mike Leventhal, Executive Director of Men's Health Network-Tennessee.
“Leadership is the opportunity to serve.”
Since 2003, Mike has been serving as Executive Director for the Tennessee affiliate of Men's Health Network (MHN). Mike is responsible for MHN operations within Tennessee and consults with key staff on program coordination throughout the Southeastern United States, with an acute focus on outreach to policy makers, media, and private/public foundations. Additionally, Mike represents MHN in other state activities through a variety of unique capacities.
Mike is the founder of Save the Doodads.org, an MHN signature campaign that is designed to use humor while raising testicular cancer awareness and the importance of the testicular self-examination to the millennial generation.
Mike attended George Washington University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Mike is active in a number of professional associations, including:
This week we’re having a conversation with Mark Diamond, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance in Australia. Mark has had extensive experience in the management of public sector health and community services organizations in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia over a period in excess of 30 years. Mark has also occupied central agency roles including the redevelopment of mental health services in South Australia. More recently he was asked to assist a major not for profit aged and community services provider in the Northern Territory – Uniting Care Australia – Frontier Services. He was subsequently appointed Director of that service.
“Leadership is about creating the culture for people to thrive and contribute.”
Mark has skills and experience in hospital, health service and aged care management particularly in regional and remote areas and has skills in leadership, project management, change management and service design. He has been appointed to several quality evaluation panels at both state and federal level and has a strong interest in mental health, Indigenous health, primary health care, aged care and rural health.
He holds tertiary qualifications in Arts (Psych) and Social Work, is a Fellow and Board Director with the Australian College of Health Service Management, Board Director Health Consumer Alliance South Australia and former Council Member, National Rural Health Alliance Inc.
Mark was engaged on a consultancy basis to assist the NRHA Board in August last year and was subsequently appointed CEO in December 2017. The NRHA is the peak advocacy body for rural health in Australia.
This week we’re having a conversation with Christy Hopkins. Christy serves as the director of Greeley County Community Development, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring stability and growth for Unified Greeley County. She is also the secretary for Growing the Vision: A Foundation for the Future of Greeley County and treasurer of The Star Theater of Tribune, a community-owned movie theater.
“Greeley County ranks 105th out of 105 counties in the State of Kansas, but we’re eighth per capita in the number of college degrees for a population.”
Christy is a Class X graduate of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership (KARL) program and a Kansas Health Foundation Fellow. She serves on the Kansas Sampler Foundation board and is a core-team member of the PowerUps, a Kansas Sampler initiative dedicated to the empowerment and connection of Kansans aged 21-39 who are rural by choice. She also serves as president for wKREDA, the western Kansas Regional Economic Development Alliance.
Christy holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and film from Southwestern College in Winfield.
This week we’re having a conversation with Carrie Henning-Smith, Ph.D. Dr. Henning-Smith is the Deputy Director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
Dr. Henning-Smith has led multiple research projects at the Rural Health Research Center, with a wide range of topics including the social determinants of health, access to and quality of care, and aging and long-term care.
“Nobody wants to end up in a nursing home…”
She was chosen as a 2017 Rural Health Fellow by the National Rural Health Association and serves as a current editorial board member for the Journal of Rural Health.
She received her MPH and MSW from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and her Ph.D. in Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration from the University of Minnesota.
This week we’re having a conversation with Hilda Heady. Hilda has 50 years of experience as a rural health leader, direct service professional, health professions’ educator and strong advocate for rural families and rural women’s health care including childbearing services. Hilda is also an advocate for Veterans and communities.
“We developed a plan to establish the state’s [West Virginia] first alternative in-hospital birth center.”
Hilda Heady’s work and advocacy is focused on how best to inform policies and practices which impact rural people and the service institutions in their communities.
She served as a charter member of the VA Secretary’s Rural Health Advisory Committee from 2008 to 2013 and as the 2005 President of the National Rural Health Association. For 18 years, she was the associate vice president for rural health at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at WVU, and for seven years the senior vice president with Atlas Research, a service disabled veteran owned small business.
Hilda is a frequent national speaker on rural culture and resilience, maternal and child health in rural areas, rural health and mental health care and issues faced by rural veterans and their families.
This week we’re having a conversation with Tommy Barnhart, President of the National Rural Health Association. Tommy has over 45 years of experience in healthcare finance and operations, working with hospitals, long-term care providers, home health agencies, hospices, clinics and other healthcare entities.
“We need to provide that organization, the hospital organization, with a methodology to move into the future so that it can provide more of a community-based service.”
Tommy has a B.A. (Business Administration) from Bridgewater College and is the former CFO of a large rural hospital. He has consulted on a wide variety of financial management and operational issues in rural health.
This week we’re having a conversation with Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association. Alan is recognized as among the top 100 most influential people in healthcare by Modern Healthcare Magazine, He has more than 26 years’ experience in health policy development at the state and federal level, and is one of the nation’s leading experts on rural health policy.
“Global budgeting is probably 5 to 10 years off and the direction that it appears the nation is headed.”
As the CEO of the NRHA, Alan has observed the changes taking place in rural health from a front row seat. The National Rural Health Association is a national nonprofit membership organization with more than 20,000 members whose mission is to provide leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communication, education and research. NRHA membership consists of a diverse collection of individuals and organizations, all of whom share the common bond of an interest in rural health.
This week we’re having a conversation with Tim Wolters, Director of Reimbursement, Citizens Memorial Hospital, Bolivar, MO. Tim is also Reimbursement Specialist for Lake Regional Health System, Osage Beach, MO. Prior to joining these health systems in 2010, he spent 26 years with BKD, a CPA and consulting firm based in Springfield, MO, where he worked with hospitals and health systems around the nation on a variety of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement issues.
“Over a course of three years while that category was in effect, it saved about $20 Million in reimbursement.”
Tim is Treasurer of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), where he also serves on the Government Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Federal Reimbursement Allowance Policy Committee of the Missouri Hospital Association. He completed two terms on the Rural Hospital Issues Group established by the Health Resources Services Administration, sponsored by the American Hospital Association and the NRHA.
This week we’re having a conversation with Dr. Emily Gill, a Family Physician practicing in rural New Zealand. Emily Gill, M.B.Ch.B., B.Med.Sci., is a 2017-18 New Zealand Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice, a research fellowship awarded by The Commonwealth Fund. She is currently based at The Brigham and Women’s Hospital, affiliated with the Harvard Medical School, Boston.
“I work in a clinic in a community of 500 in this little pre-fab room and I can look up at the window and it’s a beautiful coastal scenery that sort of subtropical and we even have an active volcano in the Bay that passes out steam regularly that I can see from my clinic room. That’s pretty special!”
Back in New Zealand, she is a full-time, rural Family Physician in two rural practices in the Bay of Plenty of the North Island, where she focuses on the management of complex chronic conditions in high-needs populations and is an advocate for improved coordination of care through clinical governance activities. After completing her medical qualifications in 2003, Gill spent time as a rural hospital medicine trainee in New Zealand and volunteered with Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontiers) working on two projects in West Africa.
Gill’s research experience includes several summer internships, and she was the first recipient of year-long research degree in General Practice in New Zealand. She has published peer-reviewed articles on the management of diabetes in aged-care facilities and cardiovascular disease risk assessments in the community setting. She was also an active member of the New Zealand Doctors-in-Training-Council (2009-2012, Deputy Chair 2010).
Dr. Gill received her medical and research degrees from the University of Otago, and is a Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practice.
This week we’re having a conversation with Jonathan Sprague, the President of Rocky Coast Consulting (RCC), located in Bangor, Maine. Jonathan has over forty years of health care related management consulting experience focused on strategy and business development, organizational leadership, and hospital-physician relationships. He has extensive experience providing consulting to rural hospitals, physicians, FQHCs, and other health care organizations across the country.
“Rural people are at risk. Rural communities are at risk. And I think in many cases, profound risk, more risk than they realize.”
Jonathan has provided planning support to fourteen State Offices of Rural Health; chaired the National Rural Health Association’s Issue Groups on Rural Medicaid Policy and General Surgery; and facilitated the development of statewide, rural health plans in Virginia, North Carolina, and Maine.
Jonathan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College; received a Master’s Degree in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard School of Public Health; and completed an Advanced Fellowship in Health Administration in the Presidents’ Offices of the American Hospital Association and Blue Cross Association.
This week we’re having a conversation with Austin Gillard, CEO of Clay County Medical Center, in Clay Center, Kansas. Austin is a Kansas native having grown up in Overland Park, Kansas. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kansas and a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Missouri.
“I was still green, but the good thing is I had over 20 mentors helping me launch my career to become successful.”
Austin’s background in healthcare started in 2008 as a physician recruiter. In 2011, he moved into a management role and was responsible for six hospital emergency departments across Kansas and Missouri.
In early 2013, Austin developed a ‘rural track administrative fellowship’ and moved to Pratt, Kansas, to work under the CEO of Pratt Regional Medical Center as an Administrative Fellow. In late 2013, Austin was given to opportunity to become the CEO of Genoa Medical Facilities (GMF), located in Genoa, Nebraska. In 2015, Austin became the CEO of Clay County Medical Center (CCMC), located in Clay Center, Kansas. CCMC is a 25 bed CAH with three RHC’s and 300 employees.
This week we’re having a conversation with John Henderson. John has been the CEO at Childress Regional Medical Center, his hometown hospital in Childress, Texas, for 16 years. Soon he will be moving to Austin, Texas, to serve as the President & CEO or the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, otherwise known as TORCH. TORCH is an advocate for the 163 small hospitals in Texas.
“When we got really good is when we stopped making excuses.”
John served as the chair of the TORCH board in 2011, and also served a board chair for the Texas Hospital Association in 2016.
John is also a husband and father of three children.
This week we’re having a conversation with Evalyn Ormand, CEO at Union General Hospital in Farmerville, LA. Farmerville is in the northeast part of Louisiana, about 25 miles from the Arkansas border. This year marks Evalyn’s 40th year in healthcare administration. During those 40 years, she has served two rural hospitals, approximately 20 miles apart.
“Don’t swallow a camel and gag on a gnat.”
The first hospital she started her career was at Shirlington Memorial Hospital in Shirlington, LA. Shirlington Memorial was started in the ’60s by a physician and his wife who was an RN. They worked together until he died unexpectedly. Their two sons returned after his death and one took over the hospital as the administrator, the other was the doctor. They hired Evalyn to work in administration.
Evalyn started her journey as an administrative assistant, bookkeeper, payroll clerk, insurance clerk and any other job that he needed to be done. There were two women in administration, Evalyn and another, and they ran the entire business office.
Ten years later, Evalyn was promoted to CEO.
Shirlington Memorial was taken over by a larger facility who then asked Evalyn if she would consider filling the position as CEO for both Shirlington Memorial and Union General. For over seven years, she would spend the morning at one hospital and the afternoon in the other hospital. Shirlington Memorial ended up closing, and Evalyn has been CEO of Union General for the past 25 years.
This week we’re having a conversation with Dr. Burke Kline, CEO of Greeley County Health Services in Tribune, Kansas. Tribune is a town with a population of 750 in a county with a population of 1,200, one of the least populated counties in the state of Kansas, located on the Kansas/Colorado border.
“Verbal judo is a practice that’s taught to law enforcement.
It’s a way of listening, relating and responding.”
Burke has over 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry, primarily working at Pawnee County Memorial Hospital and Rural Health Clinic (PCMH), located in Pawnee City, NE, in a number of managerial roles and as Associate Administrator. He gained front-line healthcare experience working in a variety of roles within health care including as a certified nurse aide and a certified medication aide in the Long Term Care setting early in his career.
Dr. Kline holds a Master’s Degree from Bellevue University in Healthcare Administration and a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration from Walden University.
Prior to his health care administrative roles, Burke served as a Deputy Sheriff for 8.5 years, as a Deputy Sheriff, he filled many roles including K-9 Handler, SWAT team leader and Commander of the Major Crimes Unit for the Gage County Sheriff’s Office.
Dr. Kline and his wife, Andrea, a nurse, have two daughters: Ellie, age 7, and Katelyn, age 5, who enjoy horse riding and playing sports.
This week we’re having a conversation with Corie Kaiser, the Director of the Oklahoma Office of Rural Health. Corie joined the Office of Rural Health in 2005. Since that time, she has maintained the office’s community engagement programs as well as coordinated and maintained quality and performance improvement and financial programs to assist critical access hospitals.
“We had three critical access hospitals convert to critical access hospital status in 2016…”
Corie received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a Master of Science with an emphasis in healthcare administration from Oklahoma State University. She is a member of the National Rural Health Association and currently serves as President of the Rural Health Association of Oklahoma and President-Elect of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health.
Corie is a native rural Oklahoman and currently lives in Edmond, OK, with her husband and two sons.
This week we’re having a conversation with Joanna Hiatt Kim, Vice President of Payment Policy, with the America Hospital Association (AHA). Joanna leads the association’s work on Medicare payment, including for inpatient and outpatient hospital care, post-acute care, and physician services.
“That is really where leadership comes into play and where the rubber meets the road to make these strategies work.”
Joanna came to the AHA from the United States Government Accountability Office, where she served as a Senior Health Policy Analyst. In this role, she advised Congress on potential policy changes and conducted policy analyses on a wide range of issues, including Medicare payment policy and hospital community benefits.
Joanna is from Orlando, Florida and received both a Master’s degree in sociology and Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Stanford University.
This week we’re having a conversation with Mark Deutchman, M.D., a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Deutchman has been involved in rural medical practice or teaching for over 35 years. He also has faculty appointments in the School of Dental Medicine and the School of Public Health. He practiced Family Medicine in rural, southwestern Washington State for 12 years. His first teaching position was at the University of Tennessee, Memphis where he founded an obstetrics fellowship to train rural Family Physicians in surgical obstetrics.
“I never really connected oral health and overall health until I was here at CU.”
For the last 23 years he has taught medical students, residents and fellows at the University of Colorado in Denver. He is founding director of the Rural Track in the School of Medicine, a program for students who are planning a career in rural medical practice. He also serves as Executive Director of the Colorado Area Health Education Center Program Office. In addition to an emphasis on rural physician workforce development, he is engaged in interdisciplinary training and works with programs to integrate oral health into primary care.
This week we’re having a conversation with Ryan Neville, President and CEO at Memorial Medical Center in Neillsville, WI. Ryan was hired as President and CEO of Memorial Medical Center in 2014.
Becoming part of an ACO has had an impact on how we think about patient care for all our patients, not just our Medicare population.
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Ryan holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy from Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, OH, and an MBA from Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives,
Ryan currently holds board seats on the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, Memorial Medical Center Foundation Board, Clark County Economic Development Council, Countryview HUD Apartment Center, member of the Leadership Council for healthTide, served on the WI state advisory committee for trauma level 3 and 4 designations, member of Health Partners with Clark County Public Health and is current President Elect for the Wisconsin American College of Healthcare Executives Board of Directors (ACHE).
Ryan has been awarded the 2006 Ohio Hospital Association Healthcare Worker of the Year and 2014 American College of Healthcare Executives Wisconsin Regent’s Award for Early Careerist.
He is passionate about improving and advancing healthcare delivery models to gain access especially in rural environments.
Memorial Medical Center is currently scheduled to open a new replacement hospital/clinic/nursing home in 2019.
This week we’re having a conversation with Dr. Jim Turner, a family medicine doctor at the Cork Medical Center in Marshall, Illinois. Dr. Turner and his wife are both third-generation residents of Marshall, a town of about 4,000 on the Illinois/Indiana border. Dr. Turner grew up 2 blocks from where his office is today. He is actively involved in his community and healthcare in a variety of roles.
“This is not just about medicine, this is about the economy and this is about young people getting good jobs and staying in their community.”
Dr. Turner started his career in medicine making ambulance runs. From there he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and his medical degree from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.
This week we’re having a conversation with John Gale, M.S., Senior Research Associate with the Maine Rural Health Research Center at the University of Southern Maine. John has conducted extensive research on rural substance use and behavioral health services, the role of hospitals in addressing population and community health issues, and the development of substance use treatment, prevention, and recovery programs.
“Our communities are the solution to many of the problems we’re struggling with.”
John serves on the Boards of Trustees for the National Rural Health Association and New England Rural Health Roundtable. He is a Senior Fellow of the Health Research and Educational Trust of the American Hospital Association and recently developed a rural substance use prevention and treatment toolkit for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime that is distributed internationally.
His work focuses on leveraging local health and community resources to improve the functioning of the rural healthcare infrastructure.
Prior to joining the Maine Rural Health Research Center, John managed large primary care and multi-disciplinary behavioral health group practices.
This week we’re having a conversation with Maggie Elehwany, JD, Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy with the National Rural Health Association. Maggie joined the NRHA staff in 2007 as the head lobbyist for the association and is responsible for the Government Affairs and Policy department.
As Senator Chuck Schumer said at a recent meeting, “If we’ve learned nothing from the last election [meaning the election of Donald Trump] it’s that we can’t listen enough to rural America.”
Maggie has over 20 years of federal legislative experience. She previously served as health counsel to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and to U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, where she worked on comprehensive Medicare and Medicaid legislation. Maggie also served as counsel to former U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bob Packwood. From 1999 to 2005, she served as assistant director of congressional affairs for the American Medical Association, where she advocated on patient and physician issues.
Maggie grew up in a small town in Oregon, Cottage Grove, which has a small hospital. Growing up in Oregon, where many parts of the state are still rural, even frontier, provided Maggie with an appreciation of the challenges rural health leaders face. When she started working in healthcare for different senators, she had the opportunity to work for two different senators from the state of Alaska. That experience provided an even greater appreciation for the issues rural health providers face. When you layer the complications of being in rural and/or frontier America, and on top of that, consider the vastness of a state like Alaska, simply getting to a healthcare center is a challenge. In Alaska, quite often, the only way one can access healthcare is by air or boat. This helps one realize how just accessing care is so tremendously important and really is the lifeline to communities.
Maggie earned a J.D. from the University of Oregon and a B.A. from Oregon State University.
Marty Fattig is the CEO of Nemaha County Hospital in Auburn, Nebraska. Marty has been involved in healthcare for over 35 years. He began his career as a bench Medical Technologist and expanded his technical skills to include radiology and electrocardiology. Later on, he entered the field of healthcare administration and has served in various capacities including Laboratory Manager, Director of Ancillary Services and hospital CEO. He has also served as a laboratory consultant and computer systems manager for a regional reference laboratory.
“We want to be held to a higher standard.”
Marty is Co-chairman of the Nebraska eHealth Council, Vice President of the Region 2 Trauma Advisory Board, Chair-Elect of the Nebraska Hospital Association, serves on the executive board of the Mid-America Hospital Alliance and is the Chairman of the Rural Health Advisory Commission. He is a member of the Critical Access Hospital Advisory Council, and the Critical Access Hospital Advisory Board on Quality. He also serves as a member of the HIT Policy Committee Meaningful Use Workgroup, being appointed by the Office of the National Coordinator. He was recently accepted as a Health IT Fellow with the ONC and a Fellow with the Rural Futures Institute.
Mary holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology and a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration.
This week we’re having a conversation with Bill Sexton, the Chief Executive Officer at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Bill is a board-certified Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern Illinois University. In 2006 he served as president of the National Rural Health Association and continues to serve as the chair of its subsidiary, Services Corporation. Bill is also a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.
“We proposed a plan for the Rural Hospital Flexibility Act and took it to Capitol Hill.”
Growing up, Bill never spent more than 4 years in any one location. The one constant for Bill was the small rural community in Central Illinois where his grandparents lived. Most of Bill’s relatives lived in small communities and he liked the fact that everyone knew each other and talked about who lived in that house rather than the address. When his father retired, his family moved to a rural community and lived across the road from a farm. His first year of college, Bill lived in an agricultural fraternity because it was student housing. Living there he made some really good friends and developed a strong respect and admiration for the farmers which he still holds today.
The son of an Air Force officer, Bill entered the Air Force after college and started his military life as a radio relay repairman, working in microwave communications. Since he had a Bachelor’s Degree, he enrolled in a weekend Master’s program along with a colleague who was a Medical Service Corp officer. He encouraged Bill to apply to do the same and he did.
Upon retiring from the military, Bill started all over again as the CEO of a small rural hospital in Wisconsin. At the time, the hospital was struggling for survival and its future was uncertain. After converting the hospital to a critical access hospital and building a rural health clinic, Bill left for the north coast of Oregon with another just converted critical access hospital.
With his family is in the Midwest, when a chance came to move back, Bill took it and has been in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin ever since. There Bill oversaw the construction of a replacement facility and one of the highlights of his life was having his 100-year-old mother there for the dedication ceremony.
This week we’re having a conversation with Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild, Associate Executive Director and Chief Futurist at the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska.
A researcher, entrepreneur and high-touch futurist, Dr. Connie, helps leaders and organizations reach their desired futures through strengths-based innovation and strategic foresight. She proudly serves as the Associate Executive Director and Chief Futurist for the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska and is also the founder of Wild Innovation, a consulting and coaching firm serving organizations from both the private and public sectors. Clients range from rural hospitals in Nebraska to remote villages in Nigeria and include a small business with a $22 million annual footprint, as well as global organizations like Lockheed Martin.
“Leadership is when a person leads their own life while bringing out the best in others and making a positive contribution to the future.”
Connie grew up in West Point, NE, with a population of about 3,000 people. While growing up, 8 of those 3,000 were immediate family members! Connie is a first-generation college student made possible through great mentoring. She has been married to an amazing man for 18 years, and they have two awesome kids and two crazy miniature wiener dogs! They enjoy living in a relaxing, rural community.