The TRUST Blog
Blog Home All Blogs

Trust the Future, Trust in Women

Posted By Monica Engel, Wednesday, March 6, 2019

At some point in our lives, we’ve all wondered what the future holds. What will my career path be? What kind of leader will I be? And although there will be uncertainty along our various paths, there comes a point when we start to trust in the future. We trust in those we have surrounded ourselves with. We trust in ourselves as we become confident in our own skin. As pioneering anthropologist Ruth Benedict stated, “We grow in time to trust the future for our answers.”

I trust in the future thanks to women like Ruth who paved the way for other women in science, business, education and a host of other disciplines. Countless women before us stood at the proverbial fork in the road and contemplated which route to take. These strong women made some of these roads easier to travel while some bypassed the options readily available and blazed their own trails — all of which aided women in navigating their own unique paths.

I am especially thankful for the charter members of the 11-15 Club, which evolved into the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST. These women started the organization 40 years ago in order to network within health care and work together to break the glass ceiling in the industry. Some charter members stated how they initially wanted to be “like the guys,” but soon realized it was best to navigate their own path.

We have come a long way thanks to countless trailblazers — women and men — who trusted in what the future could be and led a journey years in the making that resulted in strong leadership by women in Minnesota health care. And we still have roads to create, more women leaders to trust as we continue to advance the health care careers of women.

On April 9 at the TRUST Forum, we will celebrate the achievements of our TRUST Award recipients, recognize the Jean Harris Award and 21st Century Pinnacle Leader Award recipients, toast 40 years of success for women in health care leadership and look to the future as we shape the next 40 years. And if you’re dreaming of navigating to the next chapter of your journey, be sure to attend and hear from Forum keynote speaker Archelle Georgiou, MD, as she shares her insights on how to intentionally reinvent yourself and map out your future. Be sure to register for the Forum on or before March 13 for early bird pricing for tables of 10 as well as individual registrations for TRUST members, TRUST graduate student members and nonmembers. Join us this year for an extra special Forum event 40 years in the making as we TRUST the Future!

Monica Engel currently serves as TRUST President, President of Medicare & Federal Employee Markets at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and board member for Minnesota Council of Health Plans. Engel holds a degree in business management and has completed the Minnesota Management Institute program from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. In 2017, the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce honored Engel with a “Women of Excellence” award.

Tags:  Archelle Georgiou  TRUST Forum  women leaders  Women's Health Leadership TRUST 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Advancing Gender Balance in Health Care Leadership

Posted By Monica Engel, Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Women’s Health Leadership TRUST is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and we’ve seen significant progress for women in health care since the late 1970s. Take a look at the 12 issue covers for Modern Healthcare in 1979 and you’ll see one woman on the cover. With such media representation, it’s easy to see leadership opportunities for women in health care were indeed scarce 40 years ago. We have made so many strides yet women in health care continue to see gender imbalance in leadership positions. Let’s take a closer look at gender gains — and gaps.

Advancements Made

  • Women make up 80 percent of the health care workforce.1 Across all industries, women make up about 47 percent of the workforce in the U.S.
  • Women are increasingly viewed as good business leaders. Approximately 80% of the public views men and women as equally good business leaders. For hospital management, 44 percent say gender doesn’t matter when it comes to running a hospital, 37 percent believe a woman would be a better hospital leader while 14 percent said a man would do a better job.2
  • Women have made significant inroads as board directors. Among Fortune 500 companies in 2018, only 12 lacked a single female board member. This is major momentum in the right direction, considering five years ago 42 of the Fortune 500 lacked women directors and 10 years ago that number was 69.3
  • Women are now more likely to complete college and continue their education. In 1974, approximately 14 percent of women ages 25-29 had a Bachelor’s degree. In 2013, that number rose to 37 percent, which outpaced the percentage of men ages 25-29 by 7 percent. In 2012, women earned 60 percent of all Master’s degrees (up from 46 percent in 1977) and 51 percent of all doctorates (up from 21 percent in 1977). In 2013, women earned 36 percent of MBAs.4

Room for Growth

  • Women remain immensely underrepresented in leadership roles. Although women make up the majority of the health care workforce and graduate from medical school in equal numbers to men, the numbers are less impressive when it comes to leadership positions. Just three percent of health care CEOs are women, three percent are chief medical officers, six percent are department chairs and nine percent are division chiefs. It’s especially surprising these numbers continue to lag given evidence that companies with women in executive management and on corporate boards have shown greater financial performance.1
  • Women continue to earn less than male counterparts, on average. The 2018 Nursing Salary Research Report revealed men in nursing earn more than $6,000 more a year than women in nursing.5 Research from Health Information and Management Systems Society reported male primary care physicians earning nearly 18 percent more than female counterparts while men in health information technology roles earned approximately $23,000 more than women in similar roles.5
  • Women of color face an even wider gap. More than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies have no women of color on their boards. Women of color occupy approximately 12 percent of managerial and professional positions — this is across all industries so the percentage is even smaller within health care.6
  • Women continue to lag behind men in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) roles. Thankfully we’re seeing more companies take an active interest in encouraging girls to engage in STEM learning from a young age. For example, STEM toys for computer coding are demonstrating such skills are fun in addition to being educational. We will see the number of women actively pursuing STEM careers increase as more girls and young women are able to envision themselves in such roles through early exploration.

Diversity of gender, age, race and other backgrounds and experiences more broadly represent society and can strengthen organizational performance and value. While we can — and should — applaud the advances women have made, we must recognize there remain significant opportunities for growth. The Women’s Health Leadership TRUST exists to advance the health careers of women by delivering programs designed to enhance leadership skills, providing educational courses and creating opportunities to network within the industry. Together, as TRUST members and health care professionals, we have the ability to play a leading role in empowering and aiding each other to rise as leaders. I hope you will join me at the TRUST Forum on April 9 as we celebrate our successes over the past 40 years and focus on the future to shape the next 40 years!

1 Harvard Business Review
2 Pew Research Center – What Makes a Good Leader
3 Fortune
4 Pew Research Center – Women in Leadership
5 Healthcare Finance News
6 Black Enterprise

Monica Engel currently serves as TRUST President, President of Medicare Markets at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and board member for Mii Life Inc./Select Account. Engel holds a degree in business management and has completed the Minnesota Management Institute program from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. In 2017, the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce honored Engel with a “Women of Excellence” award.

Tags:  gender balance  health care  STEM  women leaders  Women's Health Leadership TRUST 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Bold Leadership: Thinking Bravely, Leading Confidently

Posted By Connie Delaney, Friday, November 3, 2017
Untitled Document

The Women’s Health Leadership TRUST’s mission is to support women leaders in health care, and we continually aim to support our members grow as the most transformative leaders they can be. Recently, we’ve heard members tell us they want the TRUST to support them to not only become leaders, but BOLD leaders. We’ve listened and are taking action by adding related topics to our strong programming line-up and honoring courageous women in health care at the 2018 Forum.

What does it mean to be a bold leader? A bold person is defined as taking risks; being brave, confident and courageous. A leader who is bold, confident and courageous chooses to act in a situation that involves risk or fear, and yes, vulnerability. She follows the integrated heart and mind to lift up health, and radiates fortitude as well as vulnerability to persevere in the face of challenges even when she can’t control the outcome. A bold leader thinks bravely and acts confidently to expand horizons, move beyond the familiar, and envision a future of health and well-being.

Sometimes boldness and confidence come naturally, other times it is a skill to be enhanced through increased mindfulness, intentionality and action. So, how can women move forward as bold leaders, even if it doesn’t come naturally? Here are a few suggestions no matter where you are on your journey.

  • Lead Authentically from Your True North. Determine who you are based on your values and sources of insight and satisfaction in your life. Your leadership will be authentic and confident when you’re true to your True North.
  • Take Confident Action. Share your insights even if they differ from the views of others. Get involved with projects outside of your comfort zone. Talk/listen to a stranger at a networking event. Practice creates more confidence, so aim to take one confident action a week.
  • Talk with Bold Leaders. Bold leaders are seldom shy about sharing their experiences with others. Talk to women you view as courageous and confident, and ask them to share their insights for growing as a bold leader.
  • Share Information. The most confident leaders share information and wisdom with others rather than amass it and use it in a short-sighted attempt for power.
  • Tell Stories. Confident leaders tell stories with impact and they weave these into their meetings, presentations and day-to-day conversations. Sharing and listening to stories are a bold way to engage with your audiences and help drive home messages.
  • Be Present; Demonstrate Confident Body Language. Body language can instantly demonstrate confidence, or a lack thereof. Engage through authentic eye contact and expressions with others.
  • Use Your Voice. Be mindful of the way you communicate verbally. Allow your energy to flow.
  • Prepare Comments. There is almost always an opportunity to prepare comments even in situations that may seem spontaneous. Think about what you want to say, then say it and stop. Allow silence to speak.

We all have something to share and to learn about being transformative leaders. Live your boldness daily. The Women’s Health Leadership TRUST is here to support you on your bold journey!

Connie currently serves as TRUST President, and Professor and Dean at the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota. Delaney holds degrees in nursing and mathematics, adult health nursing, educational administration, and informatics. Delaney’s work is expanding connections, collaborations, integrative informatics, and social structures which advance co-discovery of solutions that transform health and education systems.

Forbes, “How to Communicate Like a Confident Leader,” 5/10/17,
Inc., “7 Things Really Bold People Do,” 4/4/14,

Tags:  bold leaders  courageous leadership  women leaders 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Reflections and Focus for a New TRUST Year

Posted By Connie Delaney, Thursday, October 19, 2017
Untitled Document

I am honored to serve as the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST President and join the Board of numerous strong, stellar women leaders in the health care industry: Monica Engel, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota; Theresa Pesch, Children’s Health Care Foundation/Children’s Minnesota; Chris Bent, Allina Health Group; Amy Ronneberg, National Marrow Donor Program/Be the Match; Leslie Bodell, Optum; Julie Dekker, Fulcrum Health; Amy Dewane, HealthPartners; Sharon Gabrielson, Mayo Clinic; Sheri Henck, Medtronic; Beth Honkomp, CentraCare Health System; Ellyn Hosch, Prime Therapeutics; Jana Johnson, formerly of Medica; Stefanie Lenway, Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas; Leslie McDonnell, 3M’s Critical & Chronic Care Solutions Division; Nancy McMorran, DeCare Dental; Allison O’Connor, Fathom Consulting; Dee Thibodeau, Charter Solutions; and Mary Welsh, UnitedHealth Group.

Join me in expressing our gratitude to Theresa Pesch, Immediate Past President of the TRUST. The TRUST was fortunate to have Theresa’s influence and strong leadership on the TRUST Board and organization. It has been a pleasure to work closely with her over the last year.

The Board of Directors met recently to define and refine our priorities for 2018 and reaffirm the TRUST’s mission “to support women leaders in health care” and vision “to be a collaborative force of dynamic women in health care, aligned to share insights, expertise and trusted knowledge to lead within the industry.”

Our full plan for the year is very detailed with priorities to empower the membership through support from each of our committees. Here are some highlights that the Board, in partnership with all members, believes will have a transformative impact and lift up the collaborative force of dynamic women in health care in the year ahead.

  • Take TRUST Programs to a higher level. We plan to expand new, edgy content, responding to member feedback valuing thought leader and other strong programming focused on our turbulent health care market environment and opportunities to foster transformation.
  • Strengthen our value proposition. We are committed to advancement of women in health care and welcome thoughts and insights to enhance our value proposition for both current and prospective members.
  • Continue to grow and retain membership. We celebrate our recent milestone of reaching 500 members! And, we welcome creative engagement of both new and veteran members to advance our mission.
  • Continue to define our core competencies. What does the TRUST do best, and how can we improve?
  • Create enduring relationships between the TRUST and our sponsors. Strong support of sponsors is a hallmark of our Forum and other events. We will continue to expand visibility of our sponsors and partners throughout the year.

I welcome engaging with current and prospective members, sponsors, and partners via the TRUST’s communication channels. Please visit our website as well as our LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter channels for more information about our inspiring and thought-provoking programs throughout the year.

Connie currently serves as TRUST President, and Professor and Dean at the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota. Delaney holds degrees in nursing and mathematics, adult health nursing, educational administration, and informatics. Delaney’s work is expanding connections, collaborations, integrative informatics, and social structures which advance co-discovery of solutions that transform health and education systems.

Tags:  future of health care  women leaders  Women's Health Leadership TRUST 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Spring Brings Renewed Optimism and Bold Events

Posted By Theresa Pesch, RN, Monday, March 6, 2017
Untitled Document

There’s a saying that “no matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” The start of the year can be a bit chaotic; however, springtime brings a new optimism. There’s excitement in the air and people are ready to appear from their winter hiding places. Don’t believe me? In March the TRUST is hosting seven different events, including three free pop-up discussions on collaboration topics.  I think our Programming Committee knows people are ready to ramp up their professional development and networking!

March is also Women’s History Month and March 8 is International Women’s Day. This year’s Women’s Day theme is Be Bold for Change. Three of their five recommended bold actions for women include forging women’s advancement, celebrating women’s achievements and championing women’s education. Sound familiar? The TRUST is deeply rooted in those principles with our four pillars — leadership development, career advancement, education and networking — to help support the careers of women leaders in health care.

Spring also brings our signature education and networking Forum event on April 20. More than 400 women are already registered for the event and we’re anticipating more than 900 for the evening with keynote Susan Salka, CEO and President of AMN Healthcare. The Forum just gets bigger and better each year, and I hope you’ll join us. You can register as an individual or as a table of 10 — either way you’re ensured ample opportunities to connect with women leaders in health care. Remember, Forum registration rates increase after March 20 so don’t delay. Sponsorship opportunities are another great way to influence hundreds of Forum attendees and maximize your exposure in a fun atmosphere.

All TRUST spring events are ripe for networking, so make sure to freshen up your networking game. Great networking starts with a goal. Do you want to meet a specific person? Seek a mentor? Get to know casual connections better? Find out information about a particular company? Identify a program collaborator? Let people know what your goal is.

Another helpful networking tip is to connect others. Can you help someone with their networking goals by recommending a new connection? Are you helping colleagues meet new people? The Forum is an event where you may find yourself seated with people you know and some you don’t know. This is a great time to get to know your tablemates better.

I hope to see you at several of our March and April events!

Theresa currently serves as TRUST President, and President, Children’s Minnesota Foundation. Originally trained in nursing, Pesch has 25 years of health care administration experience and is a sought-after presenter for national philanthropy conferences. She was recognized as a Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Women in Business honoree in 2012.

Tags:  International Women's Day  women leaders  Women's History Month 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)



Women's Health Leadership TRUST

Minneapolis, MN
 p. 609.799.4900 • Email Us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linked In
  • Bebo