Chapter News


The Mid-American Healthcare Executives would like to honor and recognize the 2019 recipients of the MAHCEF Student Undergraduate and Graduate Healthcare Management Awards for their excellence and leadership as students of the healthcare management profession!

Savanah Hopkins

Savanah Hopkins is originally from Carterville, Illinois and completed her Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management (HCM) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) in 2017. She is currently pursuing dual graduate degrees in Health Administration (MHA) and Health Informatics (MHI) at SIUC. Ms. Hopkins began her career in healthcare at Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) where she spent 5 years under the direction and mentorship of Mr. Orrie Rouse, Director of Materials Management. After completing her undergraduate HCM studies, Savanah accepted a position at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus where she was responsible for physician recruitment and the coordination of physician credentialing. She recently accepted a new position as the Human Resource Manager at UC Health and is now responsible for recruitment, selection, hiring, and on-boarding policies and procedures, as well as employee relations. Ms. Hopkins is an active member of the HCM Community Advisory Board and the Saluki Mentor Network. In her free time, Ms. Hopkins enjoys hiking the Colorado mountains with Veda, her trusty German Shepherd.

Mitchell Dierkes

Mitchell Dierkes is from Marion, Illinois and a senior in the Health Care Management (HCM) undergraduate program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC). He will graduate from the bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management later this year. Mr. Dierkes has a strong focus on academics as demonstrated by his 4.0 GPA which he has maintained throughout his academic career at SIUC. He was honored for his academic achievements at the College of Applied Sciences and Arts (CASA) Honors Day and has consistently made the Dean’s list each semester he has attended SIUC. He is an active member of the Student Health Care Management Association (SHMA) and a member of the inaugural C-Suite Saluki Student Research Team recently submitting a manuscript for possible publication on the topic of physician burnout.  He plans to enter graduate school to earn his Master of Health Administration (MHA) after completion of his undergraduate degree.  In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, coaching a summer tennis camp, boating, fishing, and spending time with family and friends

Laura Ericksen

Laura Ericksen is a Senior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale studying Business Management with a specialization in Management of Health-Care Enterprises. She is from Woodstock, Illinois. Laura is involved in Collegiate Future Business Leaders of America at SIUC and serves as her chapter’s Community Service Chair and volunteers on her own time at a local animal shelter. Outside of school, Laura enjoys hiking through Giant City State Park and swimming at the SIU rec center. She hopes to pursue a career as a Human Resource Manager in a hospital.

Blake Thornton

Blake Thornton is a graduate student in the Masters of Healthcare Administration Program at Lindenwood University, with a GPA of 4.0.  He is a graduate of Southern Illinois University- Carbondale where he earned a B.S. in HealthCare Management in 2017.  Blake is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) and is currently pursuing a board certification in the field of patient safety (Certified Professional in Patient Safety- CPPS). While pursuing his education, Blake has worked assiduously to gain as much experience as possible in his field. While earning his undergraduate degree, he worked at Pinckneyville Community Hospital, a critical access hospital, in various departments and roles including certified nurse’s assistant and ward clerk as well as having served as an administrative intern under the Chief Executive Officer. Blake is currently a Process Improvement Coordinator within the Quality and Risk Management department at Pinckneyville Community Hospital. His future educational pursuits include obtaining his Master of Business Administration, with hopes of one day pursuing a doctoral level education. Blake’s career goal is to serve in a leadership role within a hospital, overseeing day-to-day operations. Blake has a passion for health care, having been surrounded by it all his life. As an advocate, Blake believes that everyone should have equal access to safe, quality health care services.  Blake is confident that his education and work experience will help him to make great contributions to the health care industry and create a lasting positive impact on the populations that he serves.   

Nicholas Carlson

Nicholas Carlson, Senior in Health Planning and Administration comes from a small town northwest of Chicago called Island Lake and he has taken full advantage of his time and resources at the University of Illinois. Currently, Nicholas works as a Supervisor at the University of Illinois Foundation. He serves as the Vice President of Finance for Future Healthcare Executives and was a part of the winning team for the Spring 2018 Claro Healthcare Case Competition. Nicholas has held two internships, one with Carle Foundation Hospital, and one with R1 Revenue Cycle Management. Additionally, Nicholas pursued a personal project to create an additional opportunity for Community Health students to gain data analysis experience by organizing a case competition sponsored by R1 Revenue Cycle Management. He has accepted an offer and will be working for CVS Health as an Analyst following graduation.

Vanessa Bailey

Vanessa Bailey is a student in the Health Management program at Lindenwood University-Belleville possessing a GPA of 4.0. She is a board certified and licensed Radiology Technologist at the local, award-winning, Belleville Memorial Hospital where she is the Lead Technologist. This year Vanessa led her imaging department in becoming nationally recognized as an accredited site by the American College of Radiology (ACR). Her passion for healthcare and leadership is what drove her to pursue her Bachelor of Health Management at Lindenwood University. Those passions have pushed her even further as she eagerly anticipates beginning her Master of Business Administration this fall. Vanessa’s goals are to further her education and required tools necessary to be a great healthcare leader within her community.

Emily Wells

Emily Wells is a part of the first graduating class of the Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). While a graduate student, Emily worked for the University as a teaching assistant/lead instructor of the undergraduate strategic planning in healthcare course and worked part-time for The Carle Foundation Hospital in both inpatient operations on the hospital side and quality improvement on the insurance side. In addition, Emily worked side-by-side with the lead health administration professor to develop a proposal to the Illinois Board of Higher Education to address the need for a MSHA at UIUC, which was ultimately approved in August of 2018. One of her fondest memories of graduate school was co-leading a group of 22 students on a study abroad trip to Italy to study the Italian healthcare system. After graduation, Emily hopes to work for The Carle Foundation Hospital full-time in quality and process improvement roles.

Brianna Klein

Brianna Klein is pursuing a Joint Master’s Degree in Public Health and Public Administration at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a Minor in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  While a student at Urbana-Champaign, she worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant for two years in the faculty biochemistry laboratory of Dr. Stephen Sligar, Director of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.  During the summer of 2016, she worked as a Scientific Research Assistant in the faculty laboratory of Dr. Sophia Ran at the Simmons Cancer Institute of the SIU School of Medicine.  This past summer, she worked with the Governor’s Environmental Corps for the Chief of the Bureau of Air at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. She is presently a Graduate Public Service Intern within the Bureau of Chronic Diseases at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).  During the short time that she has worked at IDPH, she has become a Diabetes Lifestyle Coach certified through the American Association of Diabetes Educators to reduce the burden of diabetes in Illinois by facilitating a Diabetes Prevention Program.

MAHEF Chapter receives Award

Congratulations to the MAHEF for receiving the 2016 Chapter Management Award!

This is one of four performance awards chapters can receive for their accomplishments.


The Mid-American Healthcare Executives would like to honor and recognize the 2016 recipients of the Undergraduate and Graduate Healthcare Management Award….

Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, BS in Health Care Management

Avona E. Green is a junior Health Care Management Student at Southern Illinois University- Carbondale. She is a member of the Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society, The Student Healthcare Management Association and the SIUC Cheerleading team. Avona currently has a 4.0 GPA and has received several academic awards including a CASA Honors Award, Top 5% Psychology Student Award, Student Athlete Honors Award, as well as continually making the SIUC Dean’s List each semester. She selected a career as a Health Care Manager because she has a passion for excellence in service and an unquenchable desire to make a positive difference in people’s lives. She plans to use her leadership skills, determination, and medical knowledge to ensure that a high standard of quality is always present in any facility that she works in. Her ultimate goal is to create replicable systems of care that can be implemented on a wide scale across the world.  These systems will properly equip medical professionals, and facilitate an environment that gives patients the best chance to heal. She is confident that her experience and her enrollment in the Health Care Management curriculum at Southern Illinois University- Carbondale will serve her well.

Lindenwood University-Belleville, BS in Health Management

Justine Pratt grew up in O’Fallon, Illinois and graduated from O’Fallon Township High School in 2012.  Immediately after graduation, she began her college career at Southwestern Illinois College.  Justine graduated from Southwestern Illinois College with an Associate in Science in 2014.  From Southwestern Illinois College, she transferred to Lindenwood University.  She will graduate with her B.S in Health Management this year.  In November 2015, Justine began working at Washington University School of Medicine in the Neuromuscular Department as a Clinical Service Representative.  She plans to continue to move up within the health system and also plans to further her education at Washington University.


Lindenwood University-Belleville, MS in Healthcare Administration        

Leslie Flynn RN BSN, is a health care professional with 13 years of nursing experience. She received her nursing degree from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville in 2003. Leslie will be awarded a Master’s in Health Administration from Lindenwood University, Belleville in 2016. Her nursing skillset includes expertise in medical-surgical nursing, oncology and in hospice care.  Leslie has served as leader in a mentor and leadership role for new nursing staff and for student nurses, in both the hospital setting and in the specialty role of hospice care.  During her time in hospice, she also held several different positions including that of nurse case manager, performance improvement specialist and team manager. Her final role in hospice was that of Administrator for the agency.  Her current position is Director of Nursing at a Habilitation Center for the Developmentally Disabled and Mentally Ill. Leslie hopes to continue in a leadership role and plans to further her educational pursuits by obtaining her Masters of Business Administration from Lindenwood University.  She has been married to her husband Chris for 13 years, and is the proud mother of ten year old Owen and four year old Anna.

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, BS in Business Management: Health Care Enterprises Specialization

Bryana Parker Bryana is a senior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale majoring in Business Management with a specialization in Health Care Management.  She was born and raised on the Chicago’s west side raised by my single mother. She began schooling at Whitney Young Magnet High School, which is one of the few prestigious selective enrollment schools in the city of Chicago. Bryana has always been motivated to go above and beyond the expectations people set for her, which is why she has been so driven during her undergraduate career. Throughout her studies at SIU she has maintained GPA over 3.0 while engaging in a host of leadership positions and working as a Student Supervisor at SIU’s Student Recreational Center. Bryana feels honored and blessed by every opportunity she has been presented with and plans to continue to strive for the best.

University of Illinois-Springfield, MPH/MPA Joint Degree

Erin Fitzpatrick is a graduate student in the MPH/MPA program at the University of Illinois at Springfield, scheduled to graduate in May 2016 with the MPH and MPA degrees and two graduate certificates, one in Community Health Education and the other in Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security. She holds a BA in Elementary Education with a concentration in general science. Through her education she has learned that helping others and giving back is her passion. She is currently interning with the Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago and has had the opportunity to teach about various mental health issues for Chicago Public Schools. She hopes to utilize both her Masters of Public Health and Masters of Public Administration in the future by working in an administrative healthcare position. With her passion for community health, she is excited to graduate and apply her experience and knowledge to a career that allows her to give back to others.

University of Illinois – BS in Community Health: Health Planning & Administration Concentration

Dan Burke is a senior in Community Health with a concentration in Health Administration and Planning as well as a minor in Business. Dan has worked diligently to gain as much experience as possible in his field while attending the University of Illinois. Some noteworthy experiences include serving as an administrative intern at Carle Hospital under the Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, acting as an administrative intern to the President of South Suburban Hospital, and working as an intern in the Office of Risk and Emergency Management at Dupage County Health Department. Dan served as the President of the Future Healthcare Executives and participated in research concerning Women vs. Men CEO’s in Healthcare. He will be applying the knowledge he has gained both through his schoolwork and experience as he begins working as a consultant for The Claro Group in July of this year.

Presentations of the 2016 Undergraduate and Graduate Healthcare Management Awards

MidAmerica Award - Justine Pratt - Lindenwood

Dr. Bernie Kerr, MAHCEF Board Member, presented the undergraduate Health Management Program student award to Justine Pratt during Honors Convocation ceremonies at Lindenwood University-Belleville on April 26,2016.  Pictured left to right are Dr. Brett Barger, Lindenwood-Belleville President, Dr. Kerr and Ms. Pratt.

MidAmerica Award - Leslie Flynn - Lindenwood

Dr. Bernie Kerr, MAHCEF Board Member, presented the graduate Healthcare Administration Program student award to Leslie Flynn during Honors Convocation ceremonies at Lindenwood University-Belleville on April 26,2016.  Pictured left to right are Dr. Brett Barger, Lindenwood-Belleville President, Dr. Kerr and Ms. Flynn

Avona Green - MAHCEF award 2016 with Bart

Bart Millstead, MAHCEF Board Member, presented the undergraduate Health Care Management Program student award to Avona E. Green at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

Dan Burke acceptance

Lynne Barnes and Dr. Stephen Notaro presented the undergraduate Community Health – Health Planning & Administration student award to Justine Pratt during Carle Foundation Hospital’s Spring Intern Event on April 18, 2016.

Pop Health Pic

Member Receives National Recognition

Katherine Bunting, CEO of Fairfield Memorial Hospital has been named by Becker’s Hospital review as one of the “50 Rural Hospital CEOs to Know” and “130 Women Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know”.

 Katherine J. Bunting, PhD, RN. CEO of Fairfield (Ill.) Memorial Hospital. Dr. Bunting joined Fairfield Memorial Hospital, a critical access hospital, in 1998. Under her administration, Fairfield was recognized by the National Organization of State Office of Rural Health and iVantage Health Analytics for overall excellence in outcomes. Before joining Fairfield, Dr. Bunting worked at Richland Memorial Hospital in Olney, Ill., for nearly two decades. Dr. Bunting has been an active member of many committees and boards including the Rotary Club, Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Sorority, the Illinois Long-Term Care Association and the American College of Healthcare Executives. She is also a past president of the Illinois Hospital Association Region 5 and is president-elect of the IHA Steering Committee. Congratulations!