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New training program helps groom future leaders
Photo caption: Emerging Leader Program graduates (from bottom left) Kim Stricker, Michelle Martin, Chiblie Coleman, and (from top left) Regional Director of Organization Development Laticia Thompson, graduates Avril Horace, Sue Webster and Rhonda Larsen, and Adventist Health Partners CFO Rik Baier. For more photos from the Emerging Leader graduation, click on the image.

Hinsdale – A new leadership program created by Adventist Midwest Health is helping develop today’s talent into tomorrow’s leaders.

The Emerging Leader Program graduated its first class of six people on April 19. One of those graduates, Kim Stricker, has already advanced into a new leadership role with Adventist Midwest Health, becoming the regional CREATION Health and Wellness manager.

“We want to develop and invest in our current talent and provide them with professional development exercises,” said Laticia Thompson, regional director of learning and organization development. “This will help participants gain a broader perspective about health care and how our organization operates.”

Stricker said she hoped to step into the regional position when she joined the Emerging Leader Program. She was pleased the program gave her the chance to meet with staff from each Midwest Region hospital and to form new relationships with people outside her normal work environment. The group learned about leadership and successful communication strategies.

“This has given me the tools I needed to be successful in my new position,” Stricker said. “It happened at the right time, and I think it’s definitely valuable.”

Two employees, financial analysts Chiblie Coleman and Rhonda Larsen, came up with the program concept, Thompson said. The initial idea was to form a networking opportunity for all employees. 

Adventist Health Partners Chief Financial Officer Rik Baier spoke to the pair first about the idea and believed it was a sound suggestion.

“It’s a way to develop people, to keep them in the system,” Baier said. “I want to keep good people.”

Coleman said she had participated in a multi-year residency leadership program run by the Adventist Health Systems, but because it was run from the national corporate office, she would sometimes have difficulty making all the program’s meetings and functions.

“I thought, we have to do something in this region for employees who are high-performers, to give them the opportunity to grow and develop,” Coleman said.

Coleman said she and Larsen initially suggested an open forum, with different sessions discussing various professional development topics. Instead, the pilot program focused on selected employees from around the region. That was more effective for the people involved.

“We ended up having more opportunities to meet and talk with leadership than we expected to have, which was great,” Coleman said.

The three later connected with Thompson. Both Thompson and Baier were sponsors for the pilot Emerging Leader Program.

“One of the things that was intriguing to me is the concept was very well aligned with the direction we wanted to go in terms of staff development,” Thompson said.

People learn from example, Baier said, so having the opportunity to connect leaders with employees through a program like this one makes sense.

“If you’re willing to invest in them, they’re willing to invest in you,” he said.

At the end of their training, the six developed a capstone project, focusing on employee engagement within the organization. They studied data from all over the region, Larsen said.

“We learned that the foundation for employee engagement lies in people knowing what’s expected of them and having the materials and equipment to do their work,” Larsen said.

The group worked with human resources and the region’s departments to develop several ideas, such as setting up patient rooms so equipment can be found consistently in the same places. This, in turn, could help employee engagement and improve patient care. They presented their findings to the regional leadership team.

Thompson said the executive team supported the group’s findings as well as a tool kit they developed to address some of the issues they found. The hospitals will roll out some of their suggestions progressively.

When Adventist Midwest Health selects its next group for the Emerging Leader Program, it will grow, including between 12 and 15 employees, Thompson said. Interested employees can apply or can be nominated by their leaders.

“The ones who have graduated, they’ll continue to work with their mentors over the next several months to hone their skills based on the direction they want to go in with their career,” Thompson said.


Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit

Physicians on the medical staff of Adventist Midwest Health Hospitals are independent contractors, and are not agents of the hospitals.

Media contact: Chris LaFortune, public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health,; (630) 856-2354.