Every year, HIMSS recognizes members through awards highlighting special contributions of individuals, groups and organizations leading to better health through the best use of information and technology across our diverse membership community. This includes the Most Influential Women in Health IT Awards, established in 2016, which recognize influential women at all stages of their career and celebrate their contributions to the field.
With a shared goal of working together more effectively to achieve the maximum transformative potential of health information and technology, HIMSS Women in Health IT members lead discussions focused on mentoring, compensation, research and sharing resources for career and educational growth.
We’re proud to announce this year’s group of recipients, who have all played an integral role in making the health information and technology workforce a better place.
Aashima Gupta is an innovative and progressive leader making a global impact in her work with interoperability. Her unique experience driving change in healthcare settings at Kaiser Permanente, combined with her presence at the frontier of technology innovations in Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences, contribute to her powerful influence as a thought leader in digital health. Gupta is currently serving as the global head of healthcare solutions at Google Cloud.
A sought after industry speaker, Gupta emphasizes the importance of improved patient care and experience through the incorporation of the strategic technology elements of artificial intelligence and machine learning into the care regimen. Since becoming a HIMSS member in 2010, she has contributed her expertise for various enterprise speaking engagements, including the HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition. Additionally, Gupta helped spearhead the creation of the Developer Innovation Lab with HIMSS Innovation fellows by creating immersive content emphasizing best practices and practical examples of applying technology in healthcare settings.
A champion for diversity and empowering young women, Gupta also formed GirlsInTek, an initiative dedicated to igniting the talents of young women interested in computer science. Her commitment to leading productive discussions focused on strategies and solutions resonates with all ages and genders, and encapsulates the spirit of digital transformation celebrated by HIMSS.
Kisha Hortman Hawthorne, PhD, MHA, MBA, BS
Dr. Kisha Hawthorne is a collaborative, energetic leader who has dedicated her over 16 years of her career to championing and advancing the use of health information and technology to improve care delivery. In her role as senior vice president and chief information officer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), she oversees a 550+ member information services (IS) department.
In addition to her operational leadership, Hawthorne participates on multiple governance committees and provides regular updates to the CHOP Board of Trustees. Overall, she ensures that the IS department supports CHOP's strategic initiatives – protecting patient safety and promoting information security.
Hawthorne is the executive sponsor of the Multicultural Professional Network (MPN), one of CHOP’s employee resource groups. MPN represents multiple racial, cultural and ethnic groups that seek to foster a positive work environment to support employees, patients and families of all ethnicities. She was a driving force in the establishment of the CHOP IS student internship program, which gives college students’ meaningful experience and exposure to health IT. About 19 students who participated have become full-time CHOP staff, spurring a new talent pipeline within CHOP IS. Additionally, Hawthorne contributes her time to CHOP Tech, an annual event dedicated to inspiring middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers. She is an active member of CHOP’s Diversity Council, which offers strategic guidance on diversity issues to the institution’s leadership and works amplify awareness around the value of digital health.
Christine A. Hudak, PhD, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS
Dr. Christine A. Hudak has more than 30 years of experience in the health informatics field. She has influenced multiple areas of the discipline including project management, systems implementation, systems analysis, teaching, instructional development and program administration. She currently serves as the health informatics program director and professor of Health Informatics at Kent State University, School of Information in Kent, Ohio. She is also a contributing interdisciplinary faculty member in the digital sciences program within the university’s school of information.
Hudak has been a HIMSS Fellow since 2013 and is currently CPHIMS certified. As an enthusiastic proponent of the role of health information and technology within organizations, Hudak holds membership in many health information and technology organizations, both nationally and internationally. As an educator and practitioner, Hudak has mentored many women in a variety of healthcare disciplines, as well as technology-focused roles. By emphasizing the value of health information and technology’s synergy, she has supported the growth of the field by helping her mentees gear their attention to health informatics, even those who had never considered it previously. Many of Hudak’s mentees have gone on to obtain impactful roles within the digital health and care sphere, and most still actively keep in touch and seek her counsel. This legacy of mentorship Hudak has embodied the importance of giving back to one’s profession and empowering others as a thought leader and subject matter expert.
Lygeia Ricciardi, EdM
Lygeia Ricciardi has influenced the health information and technology landscape significantly over her 20-year career in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Consistently standing at the vanguard of innovation, she has actively supported the greater adoption and use of technology in healthcare –championing increased consumer engagement and empowerment in digital health. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT recognized Ricciardi’s achievements in “putting consumer eHealth on the map” through its Honorary Change Agent Award.
Ricciardi enthusiastically supports the success of other women in the field, offering advice about how to run a women-owned business and what the path to advancement in large organizations looks like. Ricciardi is deeply motivated by her personal mission: to empower individuals to live better by leveraging information and technology for health and healthcare. In pursuit of that mission, she has crafted a career taking on risks such as starting her own business and championing initially unpopular ideas that show promise for meaningful industry change.
Heather Sulkers, CAPM
Heather Sulkers is a natural, poised leader who excels by guiding a team of passionate individuals united through a common cause: the ability to leverage whatever project she is working on to make healthcare better. In her role as senior director of the Enterprise Project Management Office and Clinical Informatics with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Sulkers provides leadership oversight for all projects and informatics initiatives at CAMH. Since joining CAMH three years ago, her accomplishments include leading CAMH’s achievement of HIMSS EMRAM Stage 7 in June 2017 and recognition by Digital Health Canada as one of the top 10 Canadian Women Leaders in Digital Health for 2018.
Through her work in consulting at many organizations while leveraging health information technologies to enhance care safety and quality, Heather has made a very positive impact to the lives of many people in Canada as well as in the U.S. and Australia. Sulkers sits on various committees within and outside of CAMH, thus actively supporting the strategic direction of the organization and advancing the use of health IT within mental health and addictions populations nationally.
Committed to helping develop more talent in the field through mentorship and training, Sulkers regularly helps students with training and mentorship through academic opportunities like internship programs, which give graduate students an excellent opportunity to learn the dynamics of health IT in an academic mental health setting. In her teachings, she emphasizes the need for students to excel at stakeholder engagement and stresses the importance of technology working in concert with clinician needs and inputs. Heather is similarly very committed to training her team, mentoring for leadership roles while “leading the team from behind” – thus empowering her team to think outside the box and problem solve independently.
“The HIMSS Women in Health IT roundtable works tirelessly to amplify awareness on important issues facing the industry,” said Stephanie Denvir, senior director, strategic relations, HIMSS. “As messengers of the many challenges and opportunities facing the workforce as a whole, together they collaborate to empower the development of a more robust and diverse workforce. The 2019 Most Influential Women in Health IT Award recipients represent this dedication in their valuable contributions to HIMSS and the industry itself. We’re honored to work with such influential experts in the health information and technology space who set an example for all to follow in the industry – regardless of age, gender, nationality or area of expertise. Together, we are all improving health information and technology.”
The 2019 Most Influential Women in Health IT Award recipients will be recognized during the HIMSS19 Awards Gala.
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