St. Catherine Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jo Ann Birdzell has been selected as Most Influential Woman in Northwest Indiana not only for her positive impact in the field of health care, but for the overall contributions to the Calumet Region.
Professionals from 11 industries were honored last month at an awards banquet at Avalon Manor with more than 500 in attendance.
Influential Women of Northwest Indiana is an organization devoted to providing women with the resources, recognition and motivation necessary to be successful in the business world.
“Jo Ann is a leader who is known for her generosity and service to the community," said John Gorski, chief operating officer of Community Healthcare System. "Through her many contributions, and her passion for caring and her advocacy for the underinsured and uninsured, she has had a direct impact on the health and well-being of our communities.”
“While she is small in stature, JoAnn is powerful and has a heart of gold with a mighty voice for those in need,” he added.
Birdzell began her health care career as a nurse, working her way up into leadership roles and striving to be a mentor and role model for other women. Birdzell held various leadership positions at St. Catherine Hospital fore two decades until, in 2001, she was named CEO.
“Female leaders who take on professional leadership positions have to focus on hard work, have a passion for what they do and develop and build support teams who have the same drive. This team should be committed and professional and have common goals with a strategy and mission to create a better world,” said Birdzell.
Birdzell is an active member of Sigma Theta Tau, national honorary society for nursing; American Hospital Association; American Nursing Association; MCHA Metropolitan Chicago Health Council, Chicago, Ill.; Catholic Health Association; Purdue University Chancellor Council; and Indiana University Allied Health Care Council.
In 2006, she was presented with the Distinguished Service Award from the Indiana Hospital Association. In 2008, Birdzell was named Lake Shore Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year.
In 2012 , she received the St. Joseph the Worker Award by Calumet College of St. Joseph. Birdzell also was named a “Pillar of the Community” by Healthy East Chicago Inc., an award recognizes those dedicated to improving the quality of life for East Chicago residents.
Birdzell said she has learned many lessons about leadership throughout her career, but credits one of her favorite female leaders, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher.
“One of my favorite quotes of hers regarding leadership is, ‘I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near,’” Birdzell said.