Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 100 Women Leaders in Healthcare of 2021. This year’s awardees were nominated and selected for their demonstrated commitment to the field of healthcare and the manner in which they have created profound and lasting impacts on healthcare systems, services, products and technologies around the world. Their dedication and determination have led to top performing teams who in turn produce some of the world’s leading healthcare goods and services, and in some cases, that have the power to significantly change people’s lives. Not only do these women dedicate their time and energy to healthcare, but their work has also provided hope and healing to those in need.
This year’s awardees are renowned for their efforts in healthcare services, medical devices, biotechnology, medical devices and consumer products, among other areas. All share the same underlying belief – that healthcare is a basic human right. They work tirelessly to ensure their organizations consistently and continuously improve the current standards of healthcare. Awardees like Melissa Lloyd with DonorConnect have lasting impacts on their patients by dedicating their lives to saving others through facilitating, coordinating, and advocating for organ donors and their families. From educating and advocating to inventing and developing, these women ensure that healthcare today continues to progress towards a degree of care that prioritizes the individual.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 100 Women Leaders in Healthcare of 2021.
1. Karen Lynch
Karen Lynch has worked her way up in corporate america over the past few decades steadily demonstrating and being recognized for her leadership talent. Today, she is the President and Chief Executive Officer of CVS Health, a healthcare innovator with a simple and clear purpose: helping people on their paths to better health.
Lynch first got her key leadership start in 2005 as President of Specialty Companies at CIGNA. From there, she went on to Magellan Health Services, before eventually rising to Executive Vice President of Local and Regional Businesses and Head of Coventry Integration at Aetna, her most recent position prior to joining CVS Health. Lynch graduated from Boston University with an MBA and from Boston College with an undergraduate degree in Accounting.
5. Melinda Gates
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda French Gates is the Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people, especially those with the fewest resources, have access to opportunities to help them succeed in school and life.
Gates is an American philanthropist, and a former GM at Microsoft, where she was responsible for the development of Cinemania, Encarta, Publisher, Microsoft Bob, Money, Works (Macintosh), and Word. She worked on Expedia, which became one of the most popular travel booking websites. In the early 1990s, she was appointed GM of Information Products. Gates has a master’s degree in Business Administration and a bachelor’s in Computer Science, both from Duke University.
8. Nancy Brown
American Heart Association
Nancy Brown is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA’s purpose is to help Americans live heart-healthy and prevent America's No. 1 and No. 5 killers--heart disease and stroke. Under her leadership, the AHA has become a global health authority on cardiovascular and brain health as well as overall health and well-being. Brown has over 35 years in the health, wellness, and fitness industry. She began her career in 1985.
Before joining the AHA, Brown was a Director of Development and Deputy Director of Endowment Campaigns at Michigan Cancer Foundation. Before that, she worked as a Special Events Director at Mount Carmel Mercy Hospital. She is currently a leader with the World Economic Forum (WEF), where she serves as a member and immediate past co-chairman of the Health & Healthcare Governors Community. She is a founding partner and global advisory board member for the WEF Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and executive board member of the Global Coalition for Value in Healthcare. Additionally, Brown is a member of the board of advisors for the Social Determinants of Health Platform. Brown graduated from Central Michigan University.
10. Kristin Dietzler
Kristin Dietzler is the President of Americas Regions of Carestream. Carestream provides imaging and IT systems for sectors ranging from medical and life sciences research to advanced materials production. Dietzler has over 14 years in the medical device industry. She began her career in 2007.
Before joining Carestream, Dietzler was a Vice President and General Manager at Covidien. She holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration-Marketing and Management from Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame.
14. Becky Kuhn
Becky Kuhn is the Chief Operating Officer of Banner Health. At Banner Health, everyday health is still important to ensure the continuation of getting the care individuals need. They are practicing rigorous safety measures at all facilities, as well as offering telehealth. She began her career in 1987.
Before joining Banner Health, Kuhn was a Chief Executive Officer at Paradise Valley Hospital and before that, various administrator roles at Samaritan Health System. Kuhn graduated from the University of Arizona with a master's degree in Nursing Education and from Arizona State University with an undergraduate degree in Nursing.
16. Diane Comer
Diane Comer is the Executive Vice President and Chief Information Technology Officer of Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente is a healthcare provider of integrated managed care consortium and not-for-profit health plans. Comer has over 13 years in the hospital and healthcare industry. She began her career in 2008.
Before joining Kaiser Permanente, Comer was an SVP of Health Plan IT at Kaiser Permanente IT. Comer graduated from Golden Gate University with an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Management.
22. Elizabeth Shih
Elizabeth Shih is the EVP, Chief Administrative Officer, and Special Assistant to the President of Dignity Health. Dignity Health provides quality, compassionate health care at more than 40 hospitals and care centers that are serving communities across California, Arizona, and Nevada every minute of every day.
Before joining Dignity Health, Shih was an Executive Vice President of Operations at the Western Division of Sutter Health. Shih graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with an MSSW and an undergraduate degree in Social Work.
View the complete list of awardees.
26. Patricia Lewis
Patricia Lewis is the Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of UnitedHealth Group. UnitedHealth Group is a healthcare company that offers insurance products and services for everyone. Lewis has over 32 years in the hospital & health care industry. She began her career in 1989.
Before joining UnitedHealth Group, Lewis was a Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Lockheed Martin and before that a Vice President of Human Resources- Diversity and Employee experience at IBM Corporation. Earlier in her career, she worked with DuPont as a Global HR Manager. Lewis graduated from the University of Bridgeport with an undergraduate degree in Management, Industrial Relations.
28. Liz Foshage
Liz Foshage is the Executive VP and CFO of Ascension. She first joined the company in 1992 as Vice President of Finance. Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As one of the leading non-profit and Catholic health systems in the U.S.
Previously, Foshage was a Senior Manager at Ernst & Young. Foshage earned a MA in Healthcare Mission from Aquinas Institute of Theology School and an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Loyola University New Orleans.
31. Yin Becker
Yin Becker is the Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of Stryker. She first joined the company in 1998 as Vice President of Healthcare Innovations. Stryker is driven to make healthcare better by advancing medical technologies through innovative products and services in orthopaedics, spine, and neurotechnologies.
Previously, Becker was a Senior Manager of Sales Services at Pfizer and before that, a Human Resource Manager at Macy’s Inc. Becker earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Rider University.
34. Elizabeth McCombs
Beth McCombs began her professional career over 22 years ago. Today, she serves as Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer for BD, a leading global medical technology company headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. She is also a member of the BD Executive Leadership Team.
McCombs joined BD in 2019 to serve as Senior Vice President, R&D for the Medical Segment. She began her career with J&J as an R&D design engineer and eventually rose to Director for the J&J Corporate Office of Science and Technology, followed by Vice President of R&D for J&J’s Sports Medicine business, and then Vice President, Surgical Innovation. Prior to joining BD, McCombs most recently served as Vice President, R&D for Ethicon. McCombs is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering. In addition, she received an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
38. Suzanne Sawyer
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Suzanne Sawyer is the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Johns Hopkins Medicine is one of the leading health care systems in the U.S, combining research, teaching, and patient care.
Before joining Johns Hopkins Medicine, Sawyer was a Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health System, and before that a Vice President of Portfolio Marketing at IBM Watson Health. Earlier in her career, she worked with the National Wildlife Federation as a Director of Institutional & Individual Development. Sawyer graduated from Penn State University with an undergraduate degree in Foreign Service.
39. Lisa Abbott
Lisa Abbott began her professional career over 25 years ago. Today, she is the Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Community Affairs of Lifespan. Lifespan is delivering award-winning healthcare across the state of Rhode Island through dozens of locations.
Abbott first got her start in 1996 as a Human Resources Manager at NYSEG. From there, she went on to Weill Cornell Medical College, before eventually rising to Chief Human Resource Officer at Penn St Hershey Medical Center, her most recent position prior to joining Lifespan. Abbott graduated from Binghamton University - School of Management with an MBA and from State University of New York College at Cortland with an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences.
44. Rosalyn Carpenter
Rosalyn Carpenter is the Chief Diversity Officer of CommonSpirit Health. She first joined the company in 2019. CommonSpirit Health was created in early 2019 when Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health came together as one ministry becoming the largest non-profit health system within the U.S.
Previously, Carpenter was a Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion at Catholic Health Initiatives and before that a Director of Business Diversity at HCA Corporate Supply Chain & HealthTrust Purchasing Group. Earlier in her career, she worked with United Way of Metropolitan Nashville as a Director. Carpenter earned an MBA and an undergraduate degree in Healthcare Administration Management from Tennessee State University.
View the complete list of awardees.
50. Jennifer Bloomquist
Jennifer Bloomquist began her professional career over 19 years ago. Today, she is the Vice President of Administration for Northwestern Medicine. Northwestern Medicine is the collaboration between Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine centered around a strategic vision to transform the future of healthcare.
Bloomquist first got her start in 2002 as an Application Analyst at Cerner Corporation. Bloomquist graduated from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management with an MBA and from the University of Michigan with an undergraduate degree in Industrial and Operations Engineering.
53. Olesea Azevedo
Olesea Azevedo is the SVP and Chief HR Officer of AdventHealth. She first joined the company in 2016. At AdventHealth, extending the healing ministry of Christ is their mission. They serve communities with healthcare in 50 hospital campuses and hundreds of care sites across diverse markets throughout nine states.
Previously, Azevedo was a Vice President of Human Resources at Florida Blue and before that an AVP of Human Resources at Baptist Health South Florida. Earlier in her career, she worked with ConAgra Foods as an HR Generalist. Azevedo earned an MBA from Northern Illinois University and an undergraduate degree in business from Andrews University.
57. Sue MacInnes
Medline Industries, Inc.
Sue MacInnes is the Chief Market Solutions Officer of Medline Industries, Inc. She first joined the company in 1993 as a Sales Representative. Medline Industries, Inc. is a healthcare business providing clinical solutions, medical supplies, and strategies that help health systems run better.
Previously, MacInnes was a Medical Nutritional Representative at Ross Labs. MacInnes earned an undergraduate degree in Nutrition Education/Dietetics from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
60. Elizabeth Miersch
Elizabeth Miersch began her professional career over 15 years ago. Today, she is the Vice President of Content & Partnerships of Equinox. Equinox Group is a high-growth collective of the world's most influential, experiential, and differentiated lifestyle brands.
Miersch first got her start in 2006 as a Self Magazine Associate Fitness Editor at Condé Nast. Miersch graduated from Loyola College in Maryland with an undergraduate degree in English.
68. Lauren Walker
Lauren Walker is the Executive Vice President of Supply Chain Operations of Medifast, Inc. She first joined the company in 2020. Medifast is the global company behind one of the fastest-growing health and wellness communities, OPTAVIA.
Previously, Walker was a Chief Supply Officer at Young Living Essential Oils and before that a VP of Manufacturing at Amway. Earlier in her career, she worked with Xerox in the Management Development Program. Walker earned an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Union College.
77. Jen Morgan
Jen Morgan is the Vice President of Financial Planning & Business Analytics of EyeCare Partners. She first joined the company in 2019 as Vice President of Finance & Treasury. EyeCare Partners is a large and fast-growing family of optometry and ophthalmology practices.
Previously, Morgan was the Senior Director of Financial Reporting & Compliance at Express Scripts and before that an Assurance Senior Manager at Ernst & Young, LLP. Earlier in her career, she worked with St. Louis Auto Auction as a Staff Accountant. Morgan earned a master's degree in Accounting from The University of Texas at Dallas and an undergraduate degree in Accounting from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis.
78. Melissa Baird
hims & hers
Melissa Baird began her professional career over 20 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Operating Officer of hims & hers. hims & hers offers a modern approach to health and wellness through patient engagement and telemedicine to help eliminate stigmas and barriers preventing people from getting the assistance they need.
Baird first got her start in 2001 as a Laboratory Technician II at The Genome Institute - Washington University School of Medicine. From there, she went on to NOAA, before eventually rising to VP of Systems & Procedures at Draper James, her most recent position prior to joining hims & hers. Baird graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences.
View the complete list of awardees.
80. Laura Seidensticker
Laura Seidensticker began her professional career over 31 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Technology Officer of Vital Proteins. Vital Proteins' success means helping each person live a fuller, more vibrant life through chemical-free collagen products.
Seidensticker first got her start in 1990 as an Aerospace Engineer at United Space Alliance. From there, she went on to Navistar Inc, before eventually rising to Java Architecture Consulting at TransUnion, her most recent position prior to joining Vital Proteins. Seidensticker graduated from Iowa State University with an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering.
83. Mary Merrell
Mary Merrell is the Chief Executive Officer of Ambercare. She first joined the company in 1994. Ambercare provides a full range of care and services including home healthcare, hospice, and personal care services to meet the needs of patients and their families.
Merrell earned an associate's degree in Registered Nursing.
94. Michele Desser
Functional Movement Systems, Inc
Michele Desser is the Director of Education of Functional Movement Systems, an education company that produces and promotes principles and methodologies to enhance movement as individuals recover from injury or begin to engage in physical activity. Desser has 20 years in the health, wellness, and fitness industry. She began her career in 2001.
Desser graduated from the State University of New York College at Buffalo with an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science, Athletic Training.
100. Julie Wald
Julie Wald began her professional career over 18 years ago. Today, she is the Founder & Chief Wellness Officer of Namaste Wellness. Namaste Wellness turns evidence-based research into practical programs and real-world recommendations that improve the mental, emotional, and physical functioning of today’s endangered workforce.
Wald graduated from New York University with a master's degree in Clinical and Social Work and with an undergraduate degree in Social Work.
View the complete list of awardees.