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Here's to Strong, Supportive Women

Posted By Administrator, Tuesday, June 30, 2020

By Leslie Bodell, TRUST President
Senior Vice President of OptumRx Client Services & Pharmacy Benefit Management Operations for Optum

There’s an unattributed quote I’m continually reminded of: “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women, who have her back.” It resonates with me because part of the mission at the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST is members supporting fellow members – as women leaders in health care and as individuals. Women supporting women – that’s powerful!

During my time with the TRUST, I’ve witnessed and heard a number of stories of our members supporting fellow members or women leaders in their communities. One recent story particularly moved me because it so vividly demonstrates the encouragement and empowerment that can lead to personal and professional fulfillment. Here is the story of TRUST members Katie and Jennifer, two strong, supportive women who took a chance on each other, which led to something pretty special.

Katie Jacobson, a board-certified financial advisor specializing in medical provider planning with Northwestern Mutual, is also a member of the TRUST’s Sponsorship committee. A social distancing happy hour reconnected her with her childhood neighbor, Steve Upton, owner of Schmidt Prototypes. When the pandemic hit, Steve’s company started producing 3D printed “ear savers” – a small device worn with masks to make them more comfortable. Katie knew how valuable these would be to health care workers; however, she wasn’t sure how to quickly get the word out to the large number of health care organizations in the state. But she knew where to start.


Enter Jennifer Olson, senior vice president of system operations and chief strategy officer at Children’s Minnesota as well as a TRUST Board member. Jennifer and Katie met through the TRUST’s IMPACT mentoring program as participants. They connected again at another TRUST networking event and stayed in touch via LinkedIn. “One of the first people I reached out to was Jennifer,” said Katie. “I told her, ‘I have access to these ear savers. Would your organization be interested? And if you’re comfortable and willing, would you connect me with other health care organizations that may be interested?’”

Interested might be a small understatement for Jennifer’s level of commitment. Not only did Jennifer help procure 4,500 ear savers for Children’s Minnesota, she reached out to her network at hospitals and helped connect Katie to an additional 18 health care organizations (and growing as this blog was written). Through their efforts, Katie and Jennifer facilitated the distribution of more than 35,000 ear saver donations in Minnesota to dental clinics, labs, hospice care, pharmacies, health clinics and hospital systems.

“I was happy and honored to help Katie navigate the industry to reach the right folks,” said Jennifer. “I am amazed by her ingenuity, persistence and energy to make an impact – not just a little one, but a significant and meaningful one! Katie took a simple lead and ran a mile with it. The credit goes to Katie and Steve for this wonderful, state-wide contribution.”

“I’m still in awe of how kind and professional Jennifer was throughout this process,” said Katie. “She went above and beyond for the community and for me, and I can’t thank her enough.”

Katie continues to work with Steve to supply ear savers for free to health care organizations. Some of you reading this may be interested in obtaining these free ear savers for your health care organization or can help Katie connect with others. You can reach Katie directly at

Many thanks to all involved, especially Katie and Jennifer! When women support each other, incredible things happen.

Leslie Bodell currently serves as TRUST President and is Senior Vice President of OptumRx Client Services & Pharmacy Benefit Management Operations for Optum. Bodell holds a MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and a finance degree from Drake University.

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