Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award Celebration

November 14, 2023 | Field Museum of Natural History | Chicago, IL


About the event

This celebratory event will connect you with more than 250 event attendees from the healthcare ecosystem, all equally committed to advancing the mission of NCHL and honoring the profound impact of the 2023 awardees. 


Event Sponsorship

Every sponsorship includes complimentary registrations to attend the evening event. Preferred seating will be exclusively reserved for sponsors. We have designed sponsorship packages in a way that maximizes your organization’s exposure, celebrate and acknowledge the impact of the awardees and also allow you to continue supporting the valuable and mission of NCHL.

Registration is now open!

Registration has been extended through Thursday, October 26th. 

Our 2023 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Awardees

Dr. Melinda Estes, president and chief executive officer of Saint Luke’s Health System of Kansas City, and Jim Skogsbergh, chief executive officer of Advocate Health, have been selected as the highly distinguished recipients of the 2023 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award. 

Melinda L. Estes, MD is president and CEO of Saint Luke’s Health System, the only locally owned, not-for-profit, faith-based, aligned health system in greater Kansas City. The health system includes 14 hospitals and campuses in the metro and its surrounding rural communities; renowned heart, neuroscience, cancer, and rehabilitation institutes; home care and hospice; behavioral health care; more than 100 physician practices and retail clinics; senior living communities, and more.

As a board-certified neurologist and neuropathologist, Dr. Estes is a champion of strengthening physician engagement. In 2020, she served as chair of the Board of Trustees for the American Hospital Association (AHA), and previously served as the chair of the taskforce that created the AHA Physician Alliance. Dr. Estes is a past member of the AHA Metropolitan Hospital Council, Committee on Health Professions, and Advisory Committee on Health Care Reform.

In 2022, the Missouri Hospital Association presented Dr. Estes with its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. In 2020, Modern Healthcare included her on its prestigious lists of “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” and “50 Most Influential Clinical Executives.” She was included in the 2018 and 2019 “Power 100,” a guide to the most powerful people in the Kansas City business community, as well as Ingrams’ “2022 Healthcare Heroes of Kansas City,” in the category of Lifetime Service. Since 2012, she has consistently been named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s lists of leaders to know, including “Women Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know” and “Physician Leaders of Hospitals and Health Systems.”

Dr. Estes earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, where she also completed her neurology residency. She completed a neuropathology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic and special training in pediatric neuropathology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She also earned an MBA from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management.

Dr. Estes speaks regularly at regional, national, and international health care conferences; and a frequent guest columnist for industry publications, including CEO Circle, the American College of Healthcare Executives newsletter.

Jim Skogsbergh is CEO of Advocate Health, the third largest nonprofit health system in the U.S., created from the combination of Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health. 

He most recently served as President and CEO at Advocate Aurora Health, one of the 12 largest health systems in the country. Before that, he spent 16 years leading Advocate Health Care, a predecessor organization and the largest health system in Illinois.


Named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare nine times, Skogsbergh is a leading voice on health care transformation and innovation; national health reform efforts; quality, cost and high reliability initiatives; patient safety; and health care providers’ commitment to serving their communities. Under his leadership, Advocate Aurora has been recognized as a national leader for its clinical successes, technological innovation, workplace culture and safety excellence.


Skogsbergh is a former member and past chair of the American Hospital Association (AHA) Board of Directors. He also is a former chair of the AHA Section for Health Care Systems Governing Council and a member of Regional Policy Board 5. In 2021, Skogsbergh completed a two-year term as Chairman of the AHA’s Political Action Committee. He is a member of the World Business Chicago Board of Directors and is a past chair of Chicago United and the American Cancer Society’s CEOs Against Cancer and the World Presidents Organization. Additionally, Skogsbergh is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and a past chair of the Illinois Hospital Association’s Board of Trustees.

He is the recipient of the American Hospital Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, as well as the ACHE Career Achievement Award, the American Heart Association’s 2023 Heart of Gold recognition, the 2015 Chicago United Bridge Award and B’nai B’rith’s 2013 National Healthcare Award.

Skogsbergh received a master’s degree in health administration from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University.

Our 2023 International Healthcare Leadership Awardee

Dr. Cary Adams, chief executive officer of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), has been chosen as the recipient of the 2023 NCHL International Healthcare Leadership Award.

Dr Cary Adams is the Chief Executive Officer of UICC. He has occupied this position since 2009.


Born in London, Cary Adams has a BSc Honours degree in Economics, Computing and Statistics, a Masters degree (with distinction) in Business Administration. He is a Harvard Business School alumni and has received two Honorary Doctorates in International Relations and Health.

In 2009, Cary made a career change, moving from the management of international businesses in the banking sector to become CEO of UICC, based in Geneva – the largest international cancer NGO of its kind with more than 1150 member organisations in over 170 countries and territories.


UICC unites and supports the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda. UICC also boasts more than 60 strategic partners.

Cary also served two terms as Chair of the NCD Alliance Board, a coalition of around 2,000 organisations working on non-communicable diseases, which include cancer, diabetes, heart, respiratory, mental and neurological diseases.


In 2014, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in International Relations from the University for Business and International Studies in Geneva, and in 2015 an Honorary Doctorate in Health from Bath University in the UK. In May 2015, Cary was awarded ‘CEO of the year’ at the International and European Association conference organised by the Associations Network.

About the awards

The Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award was named in honor of Gail L. Warden, founding chairman of NCHL, president emeritus of Henry Ford Health System, and one of healthcare’s foremost leaders. This distinction recognizes his remarkable accomplishments as an innovator in healthcare delivery, community wellness, and health policy, and as a mentor and inspiration to future generations. This enduring tribute is in recognition of Mr. Warden’s leadership legacy. This award is given to an individual who has made significant and lasting leadership contributions to the health and healthcare field and will be announced in late summer.



The NCHL International Healthcare Leadership Award honors a leader whose commitment, values, and contributions have made a significant and positive impact on the provision of healthcare across international borders.

Award Nomination Processes

Gail L. Warden - Award Nomination

The award nominations for the 2023 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award is now closed. The awardee(s) were announced on July 13, 2023. 

NCHL International Healthcare Leadership Award Nomination

Award nominations for the NCHL International Leadership Award is now closed. The awardee was announced on September 7, 2023.

What Attendees Can Expect

This year’s event, held on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, will be hosted along the shore of Lake Michigan at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The event will begin around 6:00 PM with a reception, followed by dinner and the award ceremony.


Individual tickets will be made available for purchase in early summer. Sponsorships can be secured now.  Please note that NCHL will be offering a discounted early bird rate for all NCHL program and corporate members for individual tickets. Discounted pricing for sponsorship levels will not be available. 


Cocktail attire is requested. 

Transportation and Parking

We highly recommend that attendees utilize ride-share options. There is very limited close onsite parking reserved through event registration and is limited to those with accessibility needs. Attendees who choose to drive will have access to self-paid parking at Stanley Field and instructions will be provided to all registered attendees prior to the event. 


The 2023 event will be hosted at Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. 

Our 2023 Event Sponsors