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President Obama, Secretary Prizker honor 2013 Baldrige Award Recipients

In a letter honoring 2013 Baldrige Award recipients Pewaukee School District and Sutter Davis Hospital, President Barack Obama wrote,

When our organizations maximize efficiency, enhance services and customer satisfaction, and develop effective operations, they help our economy thrive and ensure America remains on the cutting edge of innovation. I commend all those committed to strengthening enterprises and pushing our country forward, and I wish everyone gathered all the best. . . . For more than two decades, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award has recognized organizations throughout our country committed to performance excellence.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker read from the President’s letter Sunday evening as part of her remarks at the Baldrige Award Ceremony (see additional story and photos), formally recognizing the small K-12 school district and the nonprofit, 48-bed acute care hospital for their pursuit of excellence.

 "The fact is, a healthy, educated nation is a competitive nation," remarked Secretary Pritzker. "By providing top-quality education for American youth, we ensure that our future workforce will have the tools and knowledge not only to help businesses grow, but also to help society thrive. And by providing top-quality medical care, we ensure that more Americans live longer, fuller lives-- maximizing their contributions to our country."

 The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is "having a broader impact beyond traditional industries and sectors," said Secretary Pritzker at the ceremony, recounting how the program was born from the legacy of Secretary of Commerce Mac Baldrige, a role-model American business leader of the 1980s.

"As global competition heated up, Mac stressed that our nation should respond by focusing on one thing--assuring the high quality of American products," Pritzker said.

In Mac’s honor after his death, private-sector executives and legislators worked together to create the Baldrige Program. From there came the development of specific guidance (the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence) to help businesses focus on continuous improvement and the bottom-line. Today, the Criteria are used by businesses and health care, education, and nonprofit organizations as a management framework to improve all aspects of their organizations.

Although the initial focus of the Baldrige Award was on for-profit manufacturing and services companies, Pritzker said, in 1999, education and health care organizations became eligible, "with the rationale that institutions from these sectors could also benefit from high standards set by the Baldrige Criteria."

Sister Mary Jean Ryan of SSM Health Care in St. Louis Recieves Baldrige Foundation's 2014 Harry S. Hertz Leadership Award


April 9, 2014

ST. LOUIS, MO - The Malcolm Baldrige Foundation announced today that Sister Mary Jean Ryan, Board Chair of SSM Health Care (SSMHC), in St. Louis, received the 2014 Harry H. Hertz Leadership Award. The award recognizes leaders who inspire their organizations to achieve performance excellence.

Dr. P. George Benson, Board Chair of the Baldrige Foundation, said the prestigious award personifies Sister Mary Jean’s core values and leadership capabilities.  “During her 25 year tenure at SSMHC, Sister Mary Jean has demonstrated visionary leadership that has propelled the health care system to be one of the finest in the nation,” Benson said. “This honor is well deserved.” 

The award was presented at a ceremony this morning at Baldrige’s 26th Quest for Excellence Conference in Baltimore, MD.
Under Sister Mary Jean’s leadership, SSMHC received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2002, the first health care facility to earn the award.  Sister Mary Jean previously served as President and CEO of SSMHC. The private, not-for-profit health care system provides primary, secondary and tertiary health care services through its 18 acute care hospitals and two care centers.

“I’m deeply honored to receive this award from the Baldrige Foundation,” Sister Mary Jean said.  “The Baldrige program has been a tremendous asset to SSM. It has been a major contributor to helping us provide outstanding service to our patients and creating a nurturing environment for our employees.”

Specifically, Sister Mary Jean said that Baldrige asked SSMHC to define “exceptional” in terms of patient, employee and physician satisfaction as well as clinical outcomes and financial performance.  “We then set goals around each, based on the highest performing organizations inside and outside of health care,” she said.

As the Baldrige Criteria was implemented, stunning performance improvements ensued from 1999 to 2002. A clinical collaborative program to improve patient outcomes grew from four to 85 teams; a physician automated information system increased from 3,200 to 7,288; for four consecutive years, SSMHC maintained an “AA” investment rating, a status held by less than one percent of U.S. hospitals; SSMHC’s share of the St. Louis market grew to 18 percent, while three major competitors lost market share.

Sister Mary Jean is internationally known as an inspirational speaker and a leader in the healthcare quality movement. Modern Healthcare magazine for the past eight years has named her one of the most powerful people in health care.  She has received numerous awards, including the Missouri Governor’s Quality Leadership Award and the Missouri Hospital Association's 2010 Distinguished Service Award.

The Harry H. Hertz Leadership Award is given annually to the person who best demonstrates leadership behaviors consistent with the Baldrige Criteria for Performance excellence. These include: visionary leadership, customer-focused excellence, organizational and personal learning, valuing workforce members and partners, agility, managing for innovation, management by fact, societal responsibility, focus on results and creating value and systems perspective.

 The award is named for Harry H. Hertz, who is Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program at National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Hertz has been a visionary leader of the Baldrige program, which he served as program director from 1995 until last June. 

To schedule an interview with Sister Mary Jean, please contact Dottie Kyranos at 781-605-9263, or Michael K. Frisby, 202-625-4328,


Foundation Mission
The Mission of the Baldrige Foundation is to ensure the long-term financial growth and viability of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, and to support organizational performance excellence in the United States and throughout the world.


Baldrige Program Named Top Leadership Developer in Government

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program has received the first place award in the government and military category of the Leadership 500 Excellence Awards, an annual recognition of the world's best leadership development programs and initiatives. The success and impact of both the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program and Baldrige examiner training were acknowledged as major reasons for the honor.

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