Rural Health Leadership Radio™

Over the last ten years, over 100 rural hospitals have closed their doors. Roughly one in three rural hospitals have been identified as “at risk.” If there was ever a need for strong leadership, that time is now. RHLR’s mission is to provide a forum to have conversations with rural health leaders to discuss and share ideas about what is working, what is not working, lessons learned, success stories, strategies, things to avoid and anything else you want to talk and hear about. RHLR provides a voice for rural health. The only investment is your time, and our goal is to make sure you receive a huge return on your investment. For more information, visit or e-mail
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May 31, 2021

What would you do if the first thing your Board of Trustees asked you to do as the new CEO was to close the hospital? This CEO said no! Listen to her story, Robin Rau’s story, CEO of the Hospital Authority of Miller County in Colquitt, Georgia.

“The first thing my Board asked me to do when I came here was to close the hospital. I said no!”

~Robin Rau, CEO

Before joining the Hospital Authority of Miller County as the CEO in 2008, the organization had years of multi-million-dollar losses and had less than $100,000 in the bank and negative net worth. Annual revenues in 2008 were $17 m with roughly 150 employees. At that time, the organization consisted of a 25-bed CAH, Rural Health Clinic, and 97 bed SNF. The hospital had an average daily census of 5 patients, and the nursing home had an Average census of 62.

Today, the organization consists of 2 Rural Health Clinics, one Mobile RHC, 2 Skilled Nursing Facilities with 217 beds, 25-bed CAH, management of two other CAH facilities, a 5 county Home Health agency, Home Infusion Center, an ACO, and free-standing Pharmacy. Annual Revenues are now $84m, with 700 employees and an annual payroll of $40.5m. During the past 12 years, Miller County has not raised its Charge Master fees but selectively lowered them.

May 25, 2021

What would you do if you became the CEO of a Critical Access Hospital for the very first time in your career, and immediately had to deal with a global pandemic? All this after several years of blood, sweat and tears, turning around that same hospital from difficult times as the CFO/COO along with the entire leadership team. Hear one rural health leaders’ story who has weathered this and more along with his leadership team by listening to our conversation with Hunter Nostrant, CEO of Helen Newberry Joy Hospital.

“It was the start of breaking down any barriers and silos in communication and really having more open dialogue to truly get down to the root of issues”

~Hunter Nostrant

Hunter Nostrant, FACHE, RHCOC, is the Chief Executive Officer of Helen Newberry Joy Hospital & Healthcare Center (HNJH). HNJH is a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital with an attached 39-bed Long Term Care Facility and three Rural Health Clinics, located in the middle of the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Prior to his promotion to CEO, he was the COO/CFO and responsible for a multitude of areas focusing on the ongoing day-to-day internal operations, financial strategies, and a strategic partner to the CEO. He earned his Bachelor Degree in Public Accounting from Hope College in Holland, MI, and a Masters of Healthcare Administration. Hunter is also a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and earned a Rural Hospital CEO Certification through the National Rural Healthcare Association, amongst other credentials.

May 17, 2021

What do rural hospitals and clinics have in common with large academic medical centers? How can they collaborate with each other to their community’s benefit? How can they collaboratively create value? Find out what they’re doing in the state of Oklahoma by listening to our conversation with Greg Martin, Physician Outreach & Business Development Coordinator with OU Health.

“You take great care of my patients, but you probably couldn’t find us on a map.”

~Greg Martin

Greg Martin works as a Physician Outreach and Business Development Coordinator for OU Health, which is the most diverse medical health care system in the state of Oklahoma and recognized by Beckers Hospital Review as one of the top 100 hospitals of 2020.

In his current role, Greg helps community physicians have greater access to specialty care for their patients and collaborates with hospital leaders to maintain a vibrant health care community in their area.

His family ties run deep with healthcare. He and his wife Heather live in Tulsa where she is a private practice OBGYN, his daughter-in-law is a Nurse Practitioner, and his daughter is a Physician’s Assistant.

Greg holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from Oklahoma State University and is currently pursuing two Masters Degrees: a Masters of Organizational Leadership from the University of Oklahoma and a Masters in Biblical Studies.

May 11, 2021

Can you believe that the world’s worst outbreak of HIV happened in a rural community in Southern Indiana? In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we continue the conversation with Dr. Will Cooke, who shares his story of being the sole practitioner in this rural community challenged with this incredible healthcare issue.

“We had threats to my life, people threatened to burn down the clinic, there was a lot of pushback”

~Will Cooke

William Cooke, MD, FAAFP, FASAM, AAHIVS, is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Medicine and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, specializing in family medicine, addiction medicine, and HIV medicine. His work has been covered by CBS, NBC, PBS, the BBC, USA Today, the New York Times, NPR, and others. In 2019, Dr. Cooke was named National Physician of the Year by the American Academy of Family Physicians and joined the ranks of two US surgeons general and a former secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services in receiving the Ryan White Distinguished Leadership Award. He was also the first physician to be awarded the Pillar of Excellence by Addiction Policy Forum.

Dr. Cooke lives in his hometown of New Albany, Indiana, with his wife, Melissa, and six children.

Learn more at:

May 4, 2021

What would you do if you were the lone physician living and practicing in a forgotten rural community while facing the world’s worst outbreak of HIV? Would you believe this actually happened in a rural community in Southern Indiana? Hear Dr. Will Cooke’s story about his roller coaster of emotions and challenges that he experienced as he dealt with this hidden epidemic.

“The circumstances into which someone is born and raised has a lot to do with their health outcomes.”

~Will Cooke

William Cooke, MD, FAAFP, FASAM, AAHIVS, is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Medicine and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, specializing in family medicine, addiction medicine, and HIV medicine. His work has been covered by CBS, NBC, PBS, the BBC, USA Today, the New York Times, NPR, and others. In 2019, Dr. Cooke was named National Physician of the Year by the American Academy of Family Physicians and joined the ranks of two US surgeons general and a former secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services in receiving the Ryan White Distinguished Leadership Award. He was also the first physician to be awarded the Pillar of Excellence by Addiction Policy Forum.

Dr. Cooke lives in his hometown of New Albany, Indiana, with his wife, Melissa, and six children.

Learn more at:

Apr 27, 2021

What are some of the financial challenges rural hospitals face? What are some creative solutions? We’re talking about that and more this week in our conversation with Julie Leonard, CFO of Boundary Community Hospital.

“That program was the greatest program I would say I have been in and would recommend it to anybody.”

~Julie Leonard

Julie Leonard is the CFO of Boundary Community Hospital (BCH) in Bonners Ferry ID.  BCH is a 20-bed critical access hospital with an attached 28-bed long-term care facility.  Julie has earned 2 master’s degrees – 1st in International Business and Finance and the 2nd in Health Care Administration and is a graduate of the first NRHA Rural Hospital CEO Certification program February 2020 cohort.

Julie and her husband are avid hikers and mountain bikers so living in rural Idaho gives us everything we want and need to live life as we love it.  Being able to live and work in rural Idaho is even better!  

Apr 20, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about the rural collaborative advantage; how rural community leaders can recognize the resources within their community and then then collaborate with the various organizations within their community to create a culture of health. We’re having that conversation with Chris Thompson, President and CEO of the West Missouri Community Action Agency.

“Whether you’re in an urban area or a rural area, it is what it is. Poverty is poverty.”

~Chris Thompson

Chris is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of West Central Missouri Community Action Agency located and West Central Community Development Corporation (d/b/a New Growth) located in Appleton city, Missouri. Prior to joining West Central in 2014, Chris coordinated community economic development efforts in Clarkston, Georgia -- a community that has been described, variously, as the “most diverse square mile” in the United States and as “the Ellis Island of the 21st Century,” and on American Indian reservations (in South Dakota); and has served as an economic development advisor to, and provided administrative oversight of, large networks of resources for community transformation in twenty of the most economically challenged counties in the United States.

During his time in community economic development, Chris has led efforts to develop a unique community engagement model known as a community trust, assisted in the development of a small business accelerator model featured in a documentary, facilitated community engagements throughout the United States, consulted non-profit organizations on community development and facilitation, and has spoken on community development issues at various conferences, and on various media.

Chris also practiced commercial real estate law for over 16 years, which practice included stints at large law firms, at large international corporations, and at smaller boutique firms providing counsel to local, regional and national real estate developers and commercial/retail tenants.

Chris holds degrees in business (B.S. Business Administration), law (J.D.), and alternative dispute resolution (L.L.M.), all from the University of Missouri – Columbia.

Apr 13, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about innovations that are making a big impact on rural health and rural communities. Global STL is an organization based in St. Louis, Missouri, that is bringing innovators from around the world together to make a difference in peoples’ lives with a particular focus on rural America.

“We now have a huge toolbox of innovation. And we started to realize that many of these innovations were very valid and relevant for our rural communities.”

~ Vijay Chauhan

Vijay Chauhan is an experienced Corporate Business Development Executive and a startup CEO of multiple companies in the health & nutrition space. He leads BioSTL’s initiatives including the Center for Rural Health Innovation (CRHI) and GlobalSTL. CRHI’s mission is to help improve the health & economic vitality of rural communities through innovation & coalition building. Key priorities of the CRHI include improving healthcare access & affordability; healthcare workforce capacity; high speed, affordable broadband, and addressing the social determinants of health unique to rural communities.

The CRHI hosts webinars and an annual Rural Health Symposium, sources & deploys cutting-edge innovation (including telehealth) and captures the impact of its outcome; informs rural health policy; convenes & connects rural communities to improve health & economic vitality. GlobalSTL’s mission is to recruit companies with cutting-edge global innovation to St. Louis and rural Midwest rural communities to create economic vitality. GlobalSTL is leveraging St. Louis’ massive buying power in healthcare by convening 18 healthcare organizations, whose combined revenues are over $360 billion to source and deploy cutting-edge healthcare innovation. GlobalSTL also hosts an annual Health Innovation Summit that has become Midwest’s premier event for healthcare innovation.

Apr 6, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about some of the unique things Kevin DeRonde and his dynamic team are doing at Mahaska Health, a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital located in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

“One of the first things we did at Mahaska Health is we reversed the organizational chart.”

~Kevin DeRonde

Kevin DeRonde grew up on a farm in Iowa just north of Pella, where he still helps his dad on the farm. Kevin’s dad is a four-time cancer survivor, who is doing well now, and his cancer in remission. Kevin’s concern for his wellbeing provided the motivation to return to Iowa and to serve in healthcare.

Kevin has a strong resumé of healthcare business management, professional leadership, and has been recognized for building high-performing, cohesive teams focused on delivering high-quality, compassionate care. He has led strategic initiatives to improve financial operations and enhance employee and physician recruitment and engagement. In his previous management and executive roles at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., UnityPoint Des Moines, John Stoddard Cancer Center in Des Moines and MHP, DeRonde led numerous capital improvement projects.

Kevin holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Masters of Healthcare Management (MHM) from Middle Tennessee State University. Prior to earning his master’s degrees and playing football in the NFL, DeRonde earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from Iowa State University, completed the Pre-Optometry program, and served as a team captain for the ISU football team.

Mar 30, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about various initiatives centered around health and child well-being, wellness, strengthening families, transportation, a diversity of projects and activities in rural communities through the Randolph County Caring Community Partnership. We’re having that conversation with Lorna Miles, Project Director, and Brian Williams, Executive Director of Randolph County Caring Community Partnership in Missouri.

“Our goal is to remove all barriers.”

~Lorna Miles

Brian Williams has served as the Executive Director of the Randolph County Caring Community Partnership since 2007 and has facilitated several workshops on organizational, program, and community development. He also serves on the board for the Network for Strong Communities, the industry leader for affordable and innovative capacity building, programs and services and resources that strengthen nonprofits, and as the Chair for the Northeast Alliance Advisory Coalition of the Office of Minority Health.

Brian works extensively with community and faith-based agencies, government agencies, and health agencies to implement diverse health and social-health-related projects within Northeast and Central Missouri.

Lorna Miles, MBA, BS Paralegal Studies is currently employed as a Project Director for Randolph County Caring Community Partnership (RCCCP) since 2011. She supervises Community Health Workers (CHW's), as well as plans, directs, coordinates, and leads activities of their Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Opioid federal grant.

Lorna formerly worked as a Governmental Paralegal to the Missouri Attorney General Jeremiah Wilson "Jay" Nixon for several years. Lorna operated the Victim’s Compensation Fund, as well as provided resources, counseling, advocacy, and referral for thousands of victims of crime and their families.

Prior to Lorna’s employment with the Missouri Attorney General, she was a leader in the healthcare industry for over 20 years. On the business side of healthcare, Lorna has expertise in the area of risk management and catastrophic case management, and long-term care. Through each of these experiences, Lorna has been an advocate for the patient and family, which allowed her to have a broad scope of the practice and an understanding of how and why the area of patient advocacy is emerging as a key tool to engage patients to be active participants in their health and healthcare.

Lorna is the Co-Chairperson for the Northeast Alliance Advisory Coalition for the Missouri Office of Minority Health. She serves as a Civic Interest Representative on the board of North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC); a non-profit agency that has been managing and delivering an abundance of social service, community health and public housing programs to the low-income, elderly, youth, handicapped and disadvantaged rural Missourians since 1965. She is a board member of the Missouri Coalition of Oral Health and is on the Planning & Zoning Commission for the City of Moberly (her term ends 2024).

Mar 23, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about the value of community collaboration and leadership in rural healthcare with Brian Williams, the CEO of Coal Country Community Health Center in Beulah, North Dakota.

“As a healthcare leader in your community, I think you’re more visible than other leaders in the community.”

~Brian Williams

Brian Williams and his family love living in rural America, he does not believe that by living in rural communities one must sacrifice their healthcare. Brian has spent the last 12 years working with hospitals and community health centers in providing services to rural communities and those who are underserved. He is currently the CEO of Coal Country Community Health Center and Sakakawea Medical Center, which is a unique collaboration between a critical access hospital and a community health center.

Center for Rural Strategies

Mar 16, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about improving economic and social conditions in rural communities around the world. We’re having that conversation with Dee Davis, President of the Center for Rural Strategies.

“Life is what happens when you’re not making plans.”

~Dee Davis

Dee Davis is the founder and president of the Center for Rural Strategies. Dee has helped design and lead national public information campaigns on topics as diverse as commercial television programming and federal banking policy.

Dee began his media career in 1973 as a trainee at Appalshop, an arts and cultural center devoted to exploring Appalachian life and social issues in Whitesburg, Kentucky. As Appalshop's executive producer, the organization created more than 50 public TV documentaries, established a media training program for Appalachian youth, and launched initiatives that use media as a strategic tool in organization and development.

Dee is the chair of the National Rural Assembly steering committee; he is a member of the Rural Advisory Committee of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Fund for Innovative Television, and Feral Arts of Brisbane, Australia. He is also a member of the Institute for Rural Journalism’s national advisory board. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Institute for Work and the Economy. Dee is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship. Dee is also the former Chair of the board of directors of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.

Mar 9, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about the financial problems rural clinics and hospitals are facing because of the payments they receive for their services. We’re having that conversation with Harold Miller, President and CEO of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform.

“Most of what people believe about the causes of the problems and the solutions to them are wrong.”

~Harold Miller

Harold D. Miller is the President and CEO of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform (CHQPR), a national policy center that facilitates improvements in healthcare payment and delivery systems. He also serves as Adjunct Professor of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University. Harold is a nationally-recognized expert on healthcare payment and delivery reform.

He has twice given invited testimony to Congress on how to reform healthcare payment, and he has worked in more than 40 states and several foreign countries to help physicians, hospitals, employers, health plans, and government agencies design and implement payment and delivery system reforms. He served for four years as one of the initial members of the federal Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee that was created by Congress to advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services on the creation of alternative payment models.

Mar 2, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about some of the unique things Hillsdale Hospital is doing to serve their community. We’re having that conversation with the hospital’s CEO, J.J. Hodshire. Located in southern Michigan near the Ohio and Indiana borders, Hillsdale Hospital is a Critical Access Hospital located in Hillsdale, Michigan.

“Our philosophy is to take it right to the community.”

~J.J. Hodshire

Love of God, love of family, love of community. Those three things drive Jeremiah “JJ” Hodshire, ’99, in his many roles: as the new president and CEO of Hillsdale Hospital, as a minister, as a community advocate, and as a husband and father. In a year when health care and hospitals have dominated the national conversation, JJ’s love of the Hillsdale community has motivated him to work tirelessly to bring attention to the importance of rural hospitals.

A Hillsdale County resident since early childhood, JJ graduated from Camden-Frontier High School and matriculated to Hillsdale College, something he considers “the best decision of my educational career. Hillsdale College formed me into the man I am today.”

A political economy major, he fondly recalls “passionate professors” such as Mickey Craig (politics), Ken Calvert (history), and Richard Ebeling (economics), as well as his senior thesis class with then-president George Roche. “The small classes, the access to guest speakers through CCAs, the wonderful things I learned about how free markets work and about our Judeo-Christian heritage—these all gave me a solid educational foundation,” he says. “Furthermore, Hillsdale taught me how to learn and how to write, and how to manage my time—all things I use in my career.”

In 2010, JJ joined Hillsdale Hospital as director of organizational development, where he was responsible for human resources, staff education and training, safety, security, and governmental affairs. In 2018, he was promoted to vice president, then a year later, to chief operating officer. Last June, he took the helm upon former president Duke Anderson’s retirement.

“Working in health care is the best job I’ve had,” JJ says. “Every day is different and dynamic, and it’s very rewarding.”

It’s that spirit of the community that motivates JJ to volunteer his time in so many other ways beyond his job at the hospital. He currently serves on the boards of the Hillsdale County Community Foundation, Southeast Michigan Workforce Development, and the Local Development Finance Authority of the city of Hillsdale.

“I want to see this community thrive,” he says. “So I want to be at the table to make decisions that will help direct the community.”
JJ is also an ordained minister, and for 20 years, he has served in a pulpit supply capacity for local churches. “I’ve always had a passion for ministry,” he says.

With such a demanding career and schedule, JJ is grateful for the love and support of his wife and their four children. He is also grateful for the foundation he received at Hillsdale College. “It all started with Hillsdale College,” he says. “I believe in the ideals of the College. I believe in this community. It’s a wonderful feeling to serve the College and the community.”

Feb 23, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about the ‘Transcultural Care Project,’ a program created to serve the well-being of diverse cultural groups in rural Oregon. Candy Canga-Picar and her team at St. Charles Madras Hospital have had great success implementing this program and collaborating with members of the community.

“The Transcultural Care Project is an evidence-based intervention that really promotes respect for our diverse cultural minority groups.”

~Candy Canga-Picar

Candy Canga Picar is a dynamic, compassionate and collaborative nursing leader in pursuit of continued excellence. She is currently the Chief Nursing Officer at St. Charles Madras Hospital. Candy enjoys collaborating with the physicians, operational leaders, and other stakeholders to provide excellent and evidence-based patient care. She represents diversity in leadership.

Candy attained her BSN degree in Cebu, Philippines. She immigrated to the US in 1991. Since then, she has worked as a staff nurse in various healthcare settings all the way up to an executive role for over 10 years. She earned her Master’s in Business Administration degree through the University of Phoenix and Doctor of Nursing Practice through Capella University. She also has board certifications in ANCC’s Nurse Executive Advanced specialty and Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Candy was declared “Winner of the California Nurseweek Nursing Excellence Award for Leadership” in 2009. Recently in 2019, she received the Transformational Pioneer Award in Nursing Leadership given by the Northwest Organization of Nurse Leaders (NWONL). She is a frequent speaker on nursing, patient satisfaction, employee engagement, and leadership throughout healthcare organizations and at national conferences.

Lastly, Candy is passionate about transcultural care, diversity, inclusion, and equity. The transcultural care project in Madras has attracted the attention of the Oregon Medical Board and considered it as an “inspiring model of care.” It is Candy’s desire to spread the transcultural care project to all other healthcare systems providing care to a diverse population.

Feb 16, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about the ‘Grow Program,’ a new program that is trauma-focused on children who are involved in a foster care system. Nikki King and her behavior health and addiction services team found that in treating substance abuse patients, they were actually treating trauma, realizing that the vast majority of patients they were treating had adverse childhood events scores of over 8, more than double the high-risk scores.

“They are just very little kids who are experiencing significant trauma mostly due to the unchecked substance abuse”

~Nikki King

Nikki has been the Manager of Behavioral Health and Addictions Services at a rural Critical Access Hospital since September 2017. During that time, they doubled their number of providers and dramatically increased services across 4 locations in an extreme shortage area.

In addition to her management role, she serves on the Board of Directors of the Indiana Rural Health Association where she is working to design and implement a leadership Fellows program for young professionals interesting in pursuing healthcare. Furthermore, she serves as the Chair of the Membership Committee and the Behavioral Health Task Force.

Nikki worked in policy development as a member of the National Rural Health Association where she served on the Policy Congress and completed the Policy Fellowship in 2017. She co-authored policies on Medically Assisted Treatment for SUD, Congregational Health, Expansion of Practice for PAs, and Redesigning Reimbursements for Rural EMS.

Prior to her current roles, she worked as a Clinical Data Analyst focusing primarily on predictive analytics for high-risk ACO patients. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Healthcare Administration.

Feb 9, 2021

In this week's episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re having a conversation with Kyle Kellum, CEO of Cherry County Hospital, about what it takes to be a successful CEO and how “creating a psychologically safe environment" can allow individuals to become the best version of themselves.

“Even when the pandemic is over, they’re going to continue to face the challenges of healthcare”

~ Kyle Kellum

Kyle Kellum is the CEO at Cherry County Hospital and Clinic (CCH) in Valentine, Nebraska. CCH is a 21 bed, independent critical access hospital. Kyle has earned his Master of Healthcare Administration degree from Des Moines University and is a graduate of the first NRHA Rural Hospital CEO Certification Program February 2020 Cohort.

Kyle and his wife are celebrating 19 years of marriage, and together they have two wonderful kids. As a family, they enjoy all things sports and the outdoors.

Feb 2, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about how being self-aware and responding to failure can allow us to become successful leaders with Johnny Stephenson, Director of the Office of Strategic Analysis and Communication at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

“Resilience starts with, are we able to look at ourselves and honestly gauge what have we done well and what have we not done so well.”

~Johnny Stephenson

Johnny F. Stephenson Jr. is director of the Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He also leads an organization providing strategic planning, objective analysis, and comprehensive communications to support the policy, program, and budget decisions for Marshall. In April 2015, Stephenson was appointed to the Senior Executive Service, the personnel system covering top managerial positions in federal agencies.

He was deputy director of OSAC from 2008 to 2015. In 2008, he was manager of Marshall's Performance and Capabilities Management Office in OSAC, where he led his team in analyzing Marshall's capabilities and performance in the execution of its missions. From 2002 to 2007, he served at NASA Headquarters in Washington, as chief architect and implementation lead for One NASA, and then the director of organizational readiness for the Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation. Stephenson began his career at NASA in 1986 when he joined the student co-op program, as a systems engineer in Marshall's Engineering Directorate where he served in several managerial capacities until 2002.

Stephenson earned a bachelor's degree in engineering in 1987 from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has received numerous awards throughout his NASA career including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award bestowed by the Agency, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, and the NASA Silver Snoopy Award. He is a contributing author of the book "Organization at the Limit: Lessons from the Columbia Disaster," which extracts lessons from the space shuttle Columbia accident for application in high-risk organizations.

He and his wife, Sonja, live in Moulton and have two children.

Jan 27, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about careers in rural healthcare and the advantages of working in small-town hospitals in our conversation with Stacey Gabriel, CEO of Hocking Community Hospital.

“Once you have the opportunity to show someone what it’s like to work in rural health care, and that passion of giving back to your community, that helps them understand”

~Stacey Gabriel

Stacey has been with Hocking Valley Community Hospital since January 1995 and was appointed CEO in June 2018. She started her career at HVCH working as an LPN in the Skilled Nursing Facility. Throughout her career, she worked in various clinical settings including Med-Surg, Special Care Unit, Surgery, and the Emergency Department.

In 1999 she transitioned into a Nursing Supervisor role, and in 2004 became Director of the Emergency Department, Urgent Care, and Emergency Preparedness where she served for eleven years. Prior to becoming CEO, she served as Chief Nursing Officer for almost three years. In addition to healthcare at Hocking Valley Community Hospital, she worked as a flight nurse with Air Evac Lifeteam and still currently works as an EMT-Basic with Hocking County EMS.

She earned her Associates's Degree in Nursing at Hocking College in 1995, a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Ohio University in 2007, and a Masters Healthcare Administration and Masters Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2016.

She lives in Logan, Ohio with her husband, Josh, and four children, Madison, Carter, Mollie, and Carson.

Jan 19, 2021

In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about some of the challenges rural Tennessee is facing and how rural health leaders there are dealing with those challenges. We’re also talking about building community and community relationships to create a culture of health and well-being in our conversation with Jacy Warrell, Executive Director of the Rural Health Association of Tennessee.

“Having moved around the way I did was a very eye-opening experience in regard to the disparities that exist between urban areas and rural areas”

~Jacy Warrell

Jacy Warrell helps bring people and organizations together to improve health outcomes through programs, policy, and collaborations. She is a listener, strategic thinker, and achiever who maintains that the best way to bring about positive change is through community engagement and pairing direct services with advocacy.

Currently, Jacy serves as the Executive Director of Rural Health Association of Tennessee a 501(c)3 non-profit established to improve the health of Tennesseans.

Jan 12, 2021

In this episode or Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re having a conversation with Melanie Richburg, CEO of Lynn County Hospital, a Critical Access Hospital in Tahoka, TX. Tahoka is about 30 miles south of Lubbock in the Texas Panhandle. Tahoka is primarily a farming community including wind farms.

“My definition of leadership is, ‘Did I HELP?’ Did I Heal? Did I Empower? Did I Listen? Did I Persevere? Did I HELP?”

~Melanie Richburg

Melanie grew up on a 180-acre cotton farm where she learned about hard work and perseverance, working her way through college through livestock farming. She and her twin sister would rise every morning at 5:00 am to feed the cattle and do it all over again at 5:00 pm. Raising cattle paid her tuition to get her BSN.

After earning her BSN, Melanie went back to school to earn an MSN and become a Nurse Practitioner, continuing her education to receive her Doctorate in Nursing.

Today she is the CEO of Lynn County Hospital where she started as a Nurse Practitioner working in one of the hospitals, a Rural Health Clinic that was barely making it. Today, both the clinic and the hospital have grown with her guidance, and simultaneously, Melanie has mentored many students looking for a career in rural health.

Melanie is a daughter and a sister along with one of her favorite roles, being an Aunt. And according to Melanie, being a Great-Aunt is even better than just being an Aunt.

Jan 5, 2021

Happy New Year! We’re kicking off 2021 with a conversation with Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association. Alan shares how the COVID-19 pandemic has made an impact on rural health, the good and the bad, and talks about the opportunities the new year presents.

“The pandemic really has been an accelerant for change.”

~Alan Morgan

Alan Morgan is recognized as among the top 100 most influential people in healthcare by Modern Healthcare Magazine. Alan serves as Chief Executive Officer for the National Rural Health Association.  He has more than 30 years experience in health policy at the state and federal level and is one of the nation’s leading experts on rural health policy.

Alan served as a contributing author for the publication, “Policy & Politics in Nursing and Health Care,” and for the publication, “Rural Populations and Health.”  In addition, his health policy articles have been published in: The American Journal of Clinical Medicine, The Journal of Rural Health, The Journal of Cardiovascular Management, The Journal of Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, Cardiac Electrophysiology Review, and in Laboratory Medicine.  

Alan served as staff for former US Congressman Dick Nichols and former Kansas Governor Mike Hayden. Additionally, his past experience includes tenures as a health care lobbyist for the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, the Heart Rhythm Society, and for VHA Inc.

He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas, and a master's degree in public administration from George Mason University. 

Dec 29, 2020

In this final episode of 2020, we are honored to have Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild as a guest. Dr. Connie shares her perspective on several timely leadership topics: the impact of history on the future, purposeful futures, systems thinking, and leadership of the future.

“My research on leaders repeatedly revealed one major finding; people are motivated by personal fulfillment and purpose.”

~Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D.

Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild, Wild Innovation’s Founder and Chief Futurist, is on a mission to help leaders and organizations intentionally create a more prosperous future in the exploding longevity economy, which is expected to be valued at $28.2 trillion by 2050.

Prior to launching Wild Innovation as a full-time venture, Dr. Connie worked at the University of Nebraska for twenty-five years. In her last position at the University, she served as the Executive Director (Interim) and Chief Futurist for the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska where she published an invited journal article, strategic foresight, leadership, and the future of rural healthcare staffing in the United States, which was the first of its kind published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA).  

Dr. Connie is a Certified Futurist, Professional Coach, and Gallup Strengths Coach with a doctorate in Human Sciences and Leadership Studies.  She loves firewalking, snow sledding, swimming with sharks, and spending time with her family.

Dec 22, 2020

In this special Christmas episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, we’re talking about Christmas Miracles with Dr. Mike Keegan who shares two Christmas Miracle stories.

“In my mind, it was miraculous that even after something so bad was happening, so many good things transpired thereafter.”

~James M. “Mike” Keegan, MD

James M. Keegan, MD, is a KMA principal partner and infectious disease specialist with more than 35 years of experience in the medical field as well as 20 years’ experience in Antibiotic Stewardship. 

Throughout his career of practicing medicine, Dr. Keegan has taken an active role in improving the quality of healthcare and patient outcomes by serving in numerous medical director and hospital executive leadership positions including Chief Medical Officer of a health system. 

Dr. Keegan has taken a special interest in solving the negative impact of the overreliance on broad-spectrum antibiotics and has designed and implemented numerous and successful antibiotic stewardship programs (ASPs) that have shown to decrease the incidence of drug-resistant bacteria.

Dec 15, 2020

As a student at the University of Oregon’s Business School, Orion Falvey decided to participate in the ‘social business challenge’ with other students. It started with meeting with a team of 5 or 6 students who collaboratively worked on creating a business model that solved a local problem while simultaneously delivering a positive benefit to society. Those brainstorming sessions provided the launchpad for Orchid Health.

“I spent close to two years researching and connecting with a wide range of healthcare stakeholders before we opened our first clinic.”

~Orion Falvey

A graduate of the University of Oregon Business School, Orion has served as a consultant for several local businesses, was named the 2013 Oregon Student Impact Entrepreneur of the Year, and was awarded as a Freeman Fellow while working for a community-based social enterprise in Cambodia. His passion for improving the healthcare system and for achieving health equity stems from his experiences growing up in rural Alaska and the opportunity for large-scale positive impact.

To learn more about Orchid Health, visit their website at

In this week’s Leadership Nugget, I mention a writing by Robert Greenleaf, The Institution as Servant. You can find this work here

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