President's Perspective – Willis Heck and Eight Other Kansas Trustees Recognized
(Sept. 17, 2021) – It is with pleasure that the Kansas Hospital Association recognizes hospital trustees who provide an exemplary contribution through their leadership and governance. Hospitals across the state nominated individuals for the Trustee of the Year Award because they routinely went above and beyond the call of duty. This year, nine deserving trustees from across Kansas were nominated as Trustees of the Year:
- Joe Barnes, Smith County Memorial Hospital, Smith Center
- Matt Floersch, Ascension Via Christi Hospital Manhattan, Inc., Manhattan
- Michael Flores, Ascension Via Christi Hospitals Wichita, Inc., Wichita
- Willis Heck, NMC Health, Newton
- Phil Jarred, Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center, Chanute
- Jesse Luckie, Ashland Health Center, Ashland
- Jim Parrish, Stormont Vail Health, Topeka
- Judith Reynolds, Rush County Memorial Hospital, La Crosse
- Jessie Wyrill, Phillips County Health Systems, Phillipsburg
Based on the recommendation from a committee of KHA member CEOs and hospital trustees, the KHA Board of Directors has selected Willis Heck, board chair at NMC Health, Newton, as the 2021 Trustee of the Year. A donation will be given to the NMC Health Initiatives Fund in his honor.
Willis Heck, retired educator from Newton and Parsons, served on the then Newton Medical Center – now NMC Health Board of Directors for 19 years in two interrupted terms. Willis is known for being a great listener, for gathering critical information in advance, and avoiding the temptation to stand in support or opposition until he gets all the facts – traits invaluable to a contemporary hospital board. Above all, he understands how to work with other people to get things done. He has an uncanny IQ for gaining cooperation and consensus-building. He is detail-oriented and does not lose sight of the big picture; therefore, emerging trends do not catch him by surprise.
In addition to his service at NMC Health, Willis has for years faithfully served KHA on the KHA Hospital Leadership and Governance Committee. He believes this committee is essential because it shapes the knowledge base for Kansas hospital trustees. He was part of this committee when it initiated its "Kansas governWell" project. The educator-at-heart in him understood the importance of adding intellectual and practical tools for hospital trustees and for co-locating it in an easy-to-use online environment. Through his years of work on the KHA Leadership and Governance Committee, he has helped to ensure that trustees for every Kansas hospital have numerous resources readily available to them. And he further helped to ensure trustees would have an annual educational conference devoted to the issues and concerns that face all hospitals. Through his tireless and generous spirit of service, he helped make certain every Kansas hospital trustee has a level playing field of knowledge and resources to guide success.
On behalf of the KHA membership, we congratulate Willis Heck as the Trustee of the Year. Willis Heck and the other eight trustee nominees will be recognized during the KHA Awards Ceremony on Oct. 27. Congratulations to all nine of these exemplary trustees. Thank you for making a difference!