Bellwether League, Inc.10 Honorees called to Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership during 10th anniversary celebration

SCHAUMBURG, IL (May 31, 2017) – Bellwether League Inc., the Hall of Fame for Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership, elected 10 innovators, pioneers and visionaries for their industry contributions and performance as honorees of the Bellwether Class of 2017. They join 86 earlier honorees since Bellwether League’s founding 10 years ago.

Bellwether League’s Board of Directors selected the following professionals for the 10th Bellwether Class: Sara Bird, James R. Francis, Jamie C. Kowalski, Hiram Lake, James W. Oliver, Kristine S. Russell, Dudley Sisak, Craig R. Smith, William V.S. Thorne and Dwight Winstead.

For the first time in Bellwether League’s 10-year history, the careers of the vast majority of honorees span two to three different segments – providers, suppliers and group purchasing organizations – along with one in the government sector and two from the consulting, education and media segments.

Bellwether Class of 2017 honorees will be inducted at the 10th Annual Bellwether Induction Dinner Event, scheduled for Monday, October 16, at The Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago-Downtown Magnificent Mile and the Bellwether Meeting House & Eatery.

Bellwether League’s Board selected these professionals for their achievements and contributions in the delivery of quality care through efficient and innovative supply chain operations. They represent creative thinkers who take the initiative, expand the boundaries of what’s possible, and perform in a way that improves and promotes the profession of supply chain management among hospitals, group purchasing organizations (GPOs), manufacturers and distributors, consulting firms, educational institutions and media properties.

Bellwether League Board Chairman Nick Gaich expressed his admiration and excitement for this year’s Bellwether Class of 10.

“Our 2017 Hall of Fame Class not only represents a lifetime of committed passion and purpose in advancing supply chain performance excellence, but each one of our honorees maintains a legacy of contributions that will continue to influence, inspire and elevate future generations of supply chain professionals to reach higher and challenge the status quo, while never losing sight of our collective mission to better serve the health and welfare of the patients and communities that rely on us,” Gaich said.

“As the Bellwether League completes its first decade of service and enters its second decade we are fully committed to continue our mission of recognizing supply chain excellence among healthcare leaders and organizations,” he added.


Bellwether Class of 2017

Sara Bird brought commercial logistics business practices, industrial motivation and private-sector supply chain processes into the federal government’s realm. Through her efforts, the Department of Defense inserted performance improvement and process efficiencies into its massive supply chain operation that spans the globe for American military personnel and first responders in peacetime and wartime.  

James R. Francis effectively consolidated three distinct supply chain operations when three different faith-based organizations merged to form BJC HealthCare in the mid-1990s, paving the way for new business relationships with a prominent supplier and group purchasing organization at the time. At Mayo Clinic, Francis serves as one of the pioneering forerunners that model successful supply chain relationships with physicians.

For the last four decades, Jamie C. Kowalski has created, developed, evaluated and implemented custom supply chain solutions to everyday supply chain problems for hundreds of providers, suppliers and service companies – even while he worked within their ranks. Kowalski’s high-level expertise filled gaps when administrative, clinical, financial and operational clients, colleagues and customers needed it most.

Hiram Lake parlayed his World War II military and post-war missionary background, and electronics and inventory management training into helping non-healthcare companies and hospitals succeed in the burgeoning field of materials management in the mid-to-late 20th century. Lake was instrumental in providing real-world materials management challenges and solutions, motivating teamwork and mentoring next-generation professionals.

As a management engineering expert, James W. Oliver could identify organizational problems and distill effective supply chain management solutions that relied on the right people and necessary tools to make it happen. Through his executive leadership, northeast regional GPO Yankee Alliance moved supply chain management into the non-acute sector and expanded the definition of value-based contracting decades ahead of today’s trend.

Kristine R. Russell entered the healthcare publishing world in the early 1980s through the automation and information technology topical arena, and foresaw connections to the clinical and supply chain realms. Russell worked to integrate the administrative, clinical, financial and operational minds leading providers and suppliers with a noteworthy group of media properties, such as Healthcare Purchasing News, that industry professionals recognize as providing necessary intelligence to succeed in a reforming environment.

Dudley Sisak classifies himself as a “fixer” of processes, particularly in the supply chain management operations of providers and suppliers. Sisak specialized in conversion efforts and cross-functional processes, implementing advanced distribution and inventory programs and technology. One of his noteworthy traits involves facing a provider or supplier operational challenge full-on and working with clinicians and supply chain professionals to develop and implement successful processes.

Craig Smith may have been instrumental in building Owens & Minor into the nation’s largest medical/surgical supply distributor and a global healthcare logistics service company, but his philosophy of corporate cross-functionality and view of supply chain as a big-picture technology-enabled enterprise to improve efficiency, productivity and patient welfare foreshadows industry direction. From sales and operations to executive and education, Smith strives to shape supply chain’s next generation.

Without William V.S. Thorne contemporary group purchasing and supply chain management in healthcare might not have evolved to where it is today – or even emerged as an industry. As the creator and founder of New York-based Hospital Bureau of Standards and Supplies Inc. in 1910, Thorne translated his turn-of-the-century railroad industry business and purchasing expertise for the healthcare world, crafting a blueprint for hospital-based “cooperative buying” that influenced and shaped industries and market segments to follow for more than a century.

Dwight Winstead contributed a number of noteworthy concepts to supply chain management that defined and shaped industry thinking in the 1980s and set financial and operational bars going forward. With a career that spanned the provider, GPO, supplier and service industry segments, Winstead developed the separation of product costs from distribution costs in “cost-plus” contracting, private-label group contracting and GPOs establishing authorized distribution agents, and he was instrumental in bringing selected outsourced management services to integrated delivery networks.

About Bellwether League Inc.

Bellwether League’s Board of Directors, a veteran group of industry advocates, evaluates and validates professionals submitted for consideration in its three award programs: Bellwethers, Future Famers and Ammer-Level Healthcare Supply Chain Organizations.

The Board selects deceased, retired and currently active professionals with a minimum of 25 years of exemplary service and leadership performance in supply chain operations that meet its criteria to be publicly recognized as Bellwether Class Honorees. Those honored demonstrate their qualifications by advancing the profession through work experience and performance and active participation in professional organizations and their communities.

Future Famers represent supply chain professionals early in their healthcare careers who do not yet qualify for Bellwether consideration, but have contributed to the healthcare supply chain profession in a meaningful way.

Departmental recipients of Bellwether League’s Dean S. Ammer Award for Supply Chain Excellence demonstrate superior performance achievement in their daily operations.

To date, Bellwether League has honored 96 innovators, leaders and pioneers in healthcare supply chain management in five distinct categories: Education & Media, Supply Chain Management, Group Purchasing, Supplier and Consulting Services. Bellwether League also has recognized 17 Future Famers and two highly designated Ammer-Level organizations.

Launched in late July 2007 by a group of influential veterans in the healthcare supply chain industry, Bellwether League Inc., is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation that identifies and honors men and women who have demonstrated significant leadership in, influence on and contributions to the supply chain from healthcare providers, healthcare product manufacturers and distributors, group purchasing organizations, consulting firms, educational institutions and media outlets.

Bellwether League currently is funded by five Founding and Platinum Sponsors – Halyard Health, Owens & Minor, Premier Purchasing Partners, Vizient Inc. and VIE Healthcare – and a host of additional sponsors.

Bellwether League’s 2017-2018 Board of Directors include:

  • Nick Gaich, (chairman) (Bellwether Class of 2013),CEO, Nick Gaich and Associates, Morgan Hill, CA
  • Patrick E. Carroll Jr. (secretary), President, Patrick E. Carroll & Associates, Cypress, CA
  • Deborah A. Petretich Templeton, R.Ph., (treasurer), Chief, System Support Services, Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA
  • Rick Dana Barlow (co-founder, executive director), President, Wingfoot Media Inc., Schaumburg, IL
  • Todd Ebert, R.Ph., President and CEO, Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA), Washington
  • Edward J. Hisscock, Vice President, Clinical Sourcing and Informatics, and Transformation Officer, Non-Labor Spend, for Trinity Health, Livonia, MI
  • Jamie C. Kowalski (co-founder, founding chairman 2007-2013), CEO, Jamie C. Kowalski Consulting LLC, Milwaukee, WI
  • Michael Louviere, (Bellwether Class of 2010), System Vice President, Supply Chain, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans, LA
  • Nathaniel Mickish (Future Famers Class of 2015), Vice President, Sourcing, Supply Chain Management, Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX
  • John W. Strong, (Bellwether Class of 2011),Principal, John Strong LLC, Fontana, WI
  • Mark A. Van Sumeren, Strategic Advisor, Health Industry Advisor LLC, Richmond, VA
  • John A. Gaida, Chairman Emeritus, Bellwether League Inc., Arlington, TX

For more information about Bellwether League, visit

Contact Rick Dana Barlow, Executive Director, at (847) 466-7425 or