WHA Awards

For more than 55 years, the Wisconsin Hospital Association has honored individuals who have served the health care community. WHA’s annual awards have recognized a broad array of distinguished health care leaders throughout Wisconsin including health care executives, public officials, health care trustees, auxilians, clergy, educators and physicians for their extensive service in support of health care.

  • Click HERE for the 2021 Trustee Award Nomination Form
  • Click HERE for the 2021 Distinguished Service Nomination Form

The AHA Grassroots Champion Award was created to recognize those hospital leaders who most effectively educate elected officials on how major issues affect the hospital’s vital role in the community, who have done an exemplary job in broadening the base of community support for the hospital and who are tireless advocates for hospitals and their patients.

Bellin Health's Chris Woleske Receives AHA Grassroots Champion Award

Every year, one individual in each state is honored as a “Grassroots Champion” by the American Hospital Association (AHA) in consultation with state hospital associations. This year, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) nominated Chris Woleske to receive the AHA Grassroots Champion Award for her service and efforts.

Currently, Woleske serves on the WHA board of directors. Woleske regularly participates in WHA grassroots advocacy initiatives, including Advocacy Day, promoting the WHA’s grassroots program HEAT and attending roundtable events with elected officials. Woleske is also active in the Wisconsin Hospitals PAC & Conduit, personally contributing to the program and engaging with candidates through WHA PAC events.

WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding presented the Grassroots Champion award to Woleske virtually during the Bellin Health board of directors meeting on Aug. 24. 

“Chris is an exemplary leader, fostering relationships with policymakers and advocating for the important issues that impact Wisconsin hospitals, the patients they serve, and their critical role in our communities,” said Borgerding. “WHA was pleased to nominate Chris for this is well-deserved award, and we know she will continue to be an advocacy model for others.”

"Thank you very much for this award," said Woleske. "Advocacy is a strong part of our philosophy at Bellin Health, prioritizing access to quality health care for our patients and our community. It is an honor to be a voice for them."

2019 AHA Grassroots Champion


Advocacy All-Star Award:  recognizes one hospital or health care system each year that exemplifies dedication to grassroots advocacy.

SSM Health Wisconsin Receives WHA Advocacy All-Star Award

The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has awarded its 2021 Advocacy All-Star Award to SSM Health. The annual award recognizes one hospital or health care system for its exemplary dedication to grassroots advocacy on behalf of the state’s health care providers and in partnership with WHA.

SSM Health Regional President Damond Boatwright accepted the award at award at WHA’s Advocacy Day event, held virtually this year and attended by nearly 1,000 hospital supporters.

“SSM Health Wisconsin has been an outstanding advocacy partner with WHA. We are a successful advocacy organization because of proactive policy development, effective lobbying and actively engaged members like SSM Health Wisconsin,” said WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding. “Even as advocacy activities shifted virtual, SSM Health never turned down an opportunity to participate, having representation present whenever called upon,” Borgerding added.

“Receiving this recognition is incredibly meaningful for me and our organization,” said Boatwright. “We know the value and importance of advocacy and the role it plays in making meaningful, positive changes not just for our health care organization, but for patients and communities all across Wisconsin.”

SSM Health Wisconsin actively participates on WHA’s board of directors, councils and work groups, attends virtual advocacy events and engages directly with state and federal lawmakers in their districts. The health system has also shown strong growth in the number of new members to the Hospital Education and Advocacy Team (HEAT), a statewide network designed to facilitate grassroots involvement on state and federal issues that impact Wisconsin hospitals. Read more.


Health Care Advocate Award:  presented in recognition of partnership with WHA in supporting issues that enable the delivery of high-quality, high-value health care in Wisconsin.

Rep. Tony Kurtz Receives 2021 Health Care Advocate of the Year Award

The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has recognized State Representative Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) with the Association’s 2021 Health Care Advocate of the Year Award.

Kurtz was honored at WHA’s virtual Advocacy Day event on April 14 for his partnership with local hospital leaders and his support of legislation to provide necessary Medicaid funding for hospitals, remove unnecessary regulations and bolster the state’s health care workforce.

Hospital leaders from the 50th Assembly District joined WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding to present the award to Representative Kurtz. Constituent presenters included Mile Bluff Medical Center President and CEO Jim O’Keefe, The Richland Hospital CEO Bruce Roesler and Reedsburg Area Medical Center President and CEO Bob Van Meeteren.

"It is our honor today to present WHA’s Health Care Advocate of the Year Award to an ally, a true champion for our community, and an important advocate for hospitals in Wisconsin: Representative Tony Kurtz,” said O’Keefe. “Representative Kurtz has a style that makes him an effective and influential lawmaker for hospitals. He reaches out, he listens, and then he acts.”

“One of the ways [Rep. Kurtz] has turned words into action is through supporting critical funding increases to hospitals like ours,” said Roesler. “As a hospital leader, the biggest issue we face is how to make sure our operations can remain funded and provide high quality access to care for patients in our communities. We, like Jim, thank him for reaching out to us on a regular basis and taking action in Madison to help us serve our community.”

“When the community had no one else to turn to during the pandemic, when public health needed help, they all turned to us,” said Van Meeteren. “We are privileged to serve in this role, but it has been extremely challenging on human and financial resources while illuminating the importance of our state’s hospitals. Tony understands and appreciates the work done by our state’s hospitals throughout the pandemic. He has been a helpful partner, cutting through the political noise to communicate critical messages to his constituents that helped us care for patients and keep people safe.

Receiving the Health Care Advocate of the Year Award, Kurtz noted that he was “humbled” by the honor. “I am extremely honored to receive this distinguished award,” he said. “But it was all of you that have really done the heavy lifting. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have endured so much this past year, and you have exceeded all expectations. You stopped everything and focused on treating and slowing the spread of COVID-19. In my humble opinion, your proactive leadership slowed the spread and gave our state time to prepare. And prepare we did.”  Read more.


WHA Trustee Award:  honors trustees of WHA member organizations who have made an exemplary commitment to their hospital and to the community they serve.

Aurora Board Member Charles Harvey Receives 2020 WHA Trustee Award

During a virtual meeting on Nov. 18, WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding presented the 2020 Trustee Award to Charles Harvey, a member of Advocate Aurora Health’s board of directors. Many of Harvey’s accomplishments were highlighted, some of which include:

  • Aurora board member since 2013
  • Board member of the Milwaukee World Festival
  • Previous board memberships:
    • The United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County
    • Milwaukee Public Policy Forum
    • United Performing Arts Fund
Harvey is a dedicated corporate and civic leader who, among other things, has devoted himself to increasing diversity in corporate America and leading urban economic development in Milwaukee. In 2012, he cofounded the Morehouse Scholars Program, now known as the MKE Fellows, to provide scholarships for academically talented African American men from Milwaukee to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta. MKE Fellows has financed the educations of nearly 150 young leaders to date. In 2014, as cofounder of Partners for Community Impact, Harvey joined four other African American business leaders to buy a share of the Milwaukee Bucks, ensuring the NBA franchise would receive the investment necessary to flourish—and that the resulting economic benefits would reach all city residents. Read more.


WHA Trustee Award:  honors trustees of WHA member organizations who have made an exemplary commitment to their hospital and to the community they serve.

HSHS Sacred Heart & HSHS St. Joseph’s Jeff Halloin Honored with WHA Trustee Award

WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding recently presented Jeffrey Halloin of HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire, and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, Chippewa Falls, with the 2020 Trustee Award. For more than 60 years, WHA has presented a Trustee Award to an individual who has made an exemplary commitment to his or her hospital and community.
Halloin has served as a board member for HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital for 12 years. He currently serves as chair of the board for both Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals and has helped align the two boards into one unit. He is a member of the HSHS Audit and Integrity Committee and leads the board’s Executive Committee and Governance Committee.
Halloin has served on numerous community boards. He serves as the secretary of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Eau Claire and recently became a member of the Steering Committee of the Greater Chippewa Valley COVID Task Force. Read more.


WHA Distinguished Service Award:  honors senior health care executives who have made an exemplary commitment to WHA and the communities they serve.

SSM Health’s Boatwright Wins 2020 Distinguished Service Award

Nominated by health care leaders, SSM Health’s Regional President of Operations Damond Boatwright was awarded this week a WHA 2020 Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes senior executives who have made an exemplary commitment to both WHA and the communities they serve.

Boatwright joined SSM Health in Wisconsin as Regional President of Hospital Operations in February of 2014. In this role, Damond is responsible for overseeing all hospital operations within SSM Health’s integrated care delivery network in the Wisconsin Region.

Nominations supporting Boatwright all cited his exceptional leadership:
“Damond has been a proven leader in overseeing the operations and financial stability of initially our Wisconsin hospitals, and currently all of SSM Health’s hospitals, medical groups and affiliate partnerships throughout the Wisconsin region.” – Les McPhearson, President, Dean Health Plan – A Member of SSM Health

“I have worked with Damond since 2016 and have found him to be an exceptional leader who all at once is dedicated to improving our health care system, serves as an inspiring role model for young professionals and promotes humanity at work with each of his interactions.” – Margo Francisco, System Vice President, Strategy, SSM Health Wisconsin

“I have had the opportunity to witness his leadership and service to the Wisconsin Hospital Association. He is a skilled facilitator, orator, and leader whether he is on stage at Monona Terrace during WHA Advocacy Days or chairing a board meeting. Damond is accountable, charitable and leads personally and through advocacy and fundraising to support the Wisconsin Hospital Association Foundation and Advocacy efforts.” – Mark J. Thompson, MD, President, SSM Health Wisconsin Medical Groups; WHA Board Member.

Boatwright has been a member of the WHA Board of Directors since 2015 and was chair in 2019. He is also the current chair of WHA’s Advocacy Committee. He serves on the WHA Board Subcommittee on Health Care Reform, WHA Nominating and Awards Committee, and WHA Budget Committee.

WHA congratulates Boatwright for his dedication to improving Wisconsin’s health care and truly values his involvement in WHA. WHA will make a $250 donation to the charity of his choice as a recipient of the 2020 WHA Distinguished Service Award.


WHA Lifetime Achievement Award:  given to a member in recognition of leadership, service and partnership with WHA in advocating for better health care for Wisconsin communities.

Jerry Worrick Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

The President and CEO of Door County Medical Center, Gerald “Jerry” Worrick, was honored with WHA’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Rural Health conference.  Door County Medical Center is a critical access facility serving approximately 29,000 people from Door and Kewaunee counties year-round. That number explodes when more than 1.25 million visitors descend upon Door County every summer.

Worrick received the award in recognition of his leadership, service, and partnership with WHA in advocating for better health care for Wisconsin communities—serving a combined 45 years for WHA.  He served on the WHA Board for eight years, including serving as chair in 2003.  Worrick has been part of the Nominating and Awards, Council on Public Policy, the Property, Financial Solutions and Advocacy committees—and last but certainly not least, on the Council on Rural Health for 14 years.