2021 – Maureen Bisognano, President Emerita and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), has been named the 2021 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award recipient.

Ms. Bisognano previously served as IHI’s President and CEO for five years, after serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for 15 years. IHI ​has used improvement science to advance and sustain better outcomes in health and healthcare across the world for more than 30 years. She is a prominent authority on improving healthcare systems, whose expertise has been recognized by her elected membership to the National Academy of Medicine (IOM), among other distinctions.

“Ms. Bisognano is a selfless leader who has encouraged and inspired countless number of healthcare leaders through her leadership and work in the area of quality and patient safety.” LeAnn Swanson, NCHL CEO said. “She has changed the quality journey as we know it for healthcare organizations in the US and abroad. Ms. Bisognano epitomizes the very essence of this award as demonstrated through her commitment to advancing patient-centered care, influencing the development of women in healthcare leadership, and transforming the patient safety movement across the world. She is most deserving of NCHL’s highest honor and I am thrilled she has been selected as this year’s recipient.”

Ms. Bisognano advises healthcare leaders around the world, is a frequent speaker at major healthcare conferences on quality improvement, and is a tireless advocate for change. She is also an Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a Research Associate in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities.  Additionally, she chairs the Advisory Board of the Well Being Trust, co-chairs the Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care with Dr. Atul Gawande, and serves on the boards of the Commonwealth Fund, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Indiana University Health and Nursing Now.

Prior to joining IHI, Ms. Bisognano was Senior Vice President of The Juran Institute, where she consulted with senior management on the implementation of total quality management in healthcare settings. Before that, she served as CEO of the Massachusetts Respiratory Hospital in Braintree, MA, where she participated in the National Demonstration Project, the precursor to IHI.


2020 – Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN
President & CEO, National League for Nursing

The National Center for Healthcare Leadership named Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, president and CEO of the National League for Nursing, as the recipient of the 2020 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award, recognizing her thought leadership on issues facing the nursing profession, including diversity; the nurse educator shortage; and workforce development. Dr. Malone’s distinguished career has mixed policy, education, administration, and clinical practice, including as federal deputy assistant secretary for health under President Bill Clinton. Dr. Malone has been ranked among the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare, which also honored her on their biennial list of Top 25 Women in Healthcare and in 2020 named her to the inaugural list of five Minority Healthcare Luminaries.

Interview – Bevery Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN

Rod Hochman

2019 – Rodney F. Hochman, MD
President & CEO, Providence

The National Center for Healthcare Leadership named Rodney F. Hochman, MD, president and CEO of Providence, as the recipient of the 2019 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award, recognizing his outstanding leadership and lifetime commitment to improving community health. Dr. Hochman leads Providence, a not-for-profit health and social services system that has served the Western US for 160 years. Under Dr. Hochman’s leadership, Providence is transforming healthcare for the future through digital innovation, genomics and scientific wellness, population health, and outreach to the poor and vulnerable.

Interview – Rod Hochman, MD
Video of Award Acceptance Speech – Rod Hochman, MD 



2018 – Nancy Howell Agee, RN
President & CEO, Carilion Clinic

The National Center for Healthcare Leadership is pleased to announce that Nancy Howell Agee, RN, president and chief executive officer of Carilion Clinic, has been named the recipient of the 2018 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award. Ms. Agee leads Carilion Clinic, a not-for-profit integrated health system headquartered in Roanoke, serving more than one million people in Virginia and West Virginia. Through Nancy’s servant leadership style throughout her career as an executive, she finds ways to inspire, encourage, persuade, be curious, and celebrate the strengths of others. Ms. Agee’s vision for Carilion has demonstrated how a large health system can be reshaped to meet its region’s current and future needs. She served as a key architect at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and she is recognized nationally as a healthcare leader, including her current role as chair of the American Hospital Association.

Interview – Nancy Howell Agee, RN
Video of Award Acceptance Speech – Nancy Howell Agee, RN  


2017 – Steven H. Lipstein
Former CEO, BJC HealthCare

The National Center for Healthcare Leadership is honored to present the 2017 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award to Steven H. Lipstein, CEO, BJC HealthCare, for his tireless work increasing access to high quality healthcare throughout Missouri and Southern Illinois. As a leader of one of the largest nonprofit healthcare organizations in the US, Mr. Lipstein has been active in transforming healthcare organizations from providers of medical services to proactive facilitators of wellness and healthcare management, while providing leadership on local and national healthcare issues. Joining BJC HealthCare in 1999, he is credited with bringing financial stability to the organization and developing and maintaining a high-performing integrated health system that consistently receives high ratings from bond agencies. With his commitment to serve all of BJC Healthcare’s communities and constituents, Mr. Lipstein has brought innovation and visionary leadership to the delivery of healthcare.

Interview – Steven H. Lipstein
Video of Award Acceptance Speech – Steven  H. Lipstein 

2016 – Christine K. Cassel, MD 
Planning Dean, Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine

The National Center for Healthcare Leadership is honored to present the 2016 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award to Christine K. Cassel, MD for her pioneering work in geriatrics and bioethics, and her leadership at the National Quality Forum and other national organizations. Now, as Planning Dean at the new Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, Dr. Cassel is helping to build something from the ground up with an innovative approach to medical school education that immediately immerses students into clinical work with a focus on patient-centered care.

Video of Award Acceptance Speech – Christine K. Cassel, MD 



2015 – Richard J. Umbdenstock
Past President & CEO, American Hospital Association

The National Center for Healthcare Leadership is honored to present the 2015 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award to Richard J. Umbdenstock for his tireless work to transform and improve healthcare and unparalleled leadership in breaking through the divisive debate on health reform to help drive change in the nation’s healthcare system. Rich Umbdenstock’s healthcare career finished where it started. The immediate past president and CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA) began working at the AHA in 1975—one year after receiving his master’s degree in health services administration—as a special assistant to the president. And then, step-by-step, he carefully moved through his next series of roles as if he knew all along he was preparing to return to lead the AHA through one of the most crucial and conflicted eras of its 116-year history. His consulting career, his focus on governance, and his experience enabling collaboration, building consensus, and navigating healthcare’s complexity all came together as the tumult of the Affordable Care Act unfolded into headline news—and stayed headline news—for the entire eight years that Rich headed the organization.

Video of Award Acceptance Speech – Richard J. Umbdenstock