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.


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

Stoughton Health Receives 2023 Advocacy All-Star Award from WHA

Stoughton Health received the 2023 Advocacy All-Star Award at Wisconsin Hospital Association’s (WHA) annual Advocacy Day event on April 19 in Madison attended by nearly 1,000 hospital advocates. Presented by Kari Hofer, WHA Vice President of External Affairs, the award recognizes one hospital or health care system that exemplifies a dedication to grassroots advocacy.

“Stoughton Health always has a strong showing at WHA’s Advocacy Day, but Stoughton Health is also strongly committed to the ongoing grassroots process, making sure their advocates contact their lawmakers on both state and federal issues all year long,” said Hofer. “Stoughton has been a consistent and strong advocate, and we appreciate their advocacy partnership and leadership.”

Stoughton Health President and CEO Dan DeGroot accepted the award on behalf of the organization and said, “Stoughton Health’s receiving this award is a great reflection on our steadfast commitment along with that of the larger Healthcare community to Advocacy. At the end of the day, what we all are trying to achieve is creating a better health care delivery system to enhance our ability to care for our patients and communities.”

Stoughton Health actively participates on WHA’s board of directors, councils and work groups, attends advocacy events and engages with state and federal lawmakers in their districts. Individuals from the hospital are also actively involved in 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. Mark Born Receives 2023 Advocate of the Year Award from WHA

The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has recognized State Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) with the Association’s 2023 Health Care Advocate of the Year Award.

Born was honored at WHA’s annual Advocacy Day event on April 19 in Madison for his partnership with local hospital leaders and his support for legislation to provide necessary Medicaid funding to hospitals, remove unnecessary regulations and bolster the state’s health care workforce.

Marshfield Medical Center – Beaver Dam Chief Administrative Officer Angelia Foster presented Born with the award at WHA’s Advocacy Day attended by nearly 1,000 hospital advocates.

“Rep. Born has not only been a responsive state representative, but he has also been a proactive ally and supporter of everything we do,” said Foster. “Today, hospitals are dealing with some of the most challenging times that most of us have ever encountered in our careers. Mark knows these challenges firsthand due to his relationship with [our hospital] and his work on the UW Hospital board of directors. And he is already working to address many of these issues in the upcoming state budget, because he knows these problem impact access to quality patient care.”

“Hospitals are a key foundation of our state’s health care system, providing critical access to essential medical services in every corner of our state,” said Rep. Born. “I appreciate working alongside the Wisconsin Hospital Association to help ensure that people throughout Wisconsin have access to high-quality health care.” Read more



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

Advocate Health’s Carlson Recognized with WHA 2022 Distinguished Service Award

WHA has awarded its 2022 Distinguished Service Award to Pete Carlson, president of behavioral health services at Advocate Health. The award was presented to Carlson by WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital on March 14.
WHA’s annual Distinguished Service Award honors a senior health care executive who has demonstrated a long-standing and impactful commitment to advancing health care statewide and in their community.
Carlson was nominated for the award by his Advocate Health colleagues Chief Operating Officer Bill Santulli, Chief Medical Group Officer Jeff Bahr, MD, and Vice-President of Behavioral Health Services Srikrishna Mylavarapu, MD.
Borgerding noted Carlson has been instrumental in transforming the way mental health care services are delivered in our communities.

“Among many examples that standout, the one I am most familiar with, and grateful for, is the role Pete played in being the main architect of Milwaukee County’s new Mental Health Emergency Center,” said Borgerding in presenting the award. “It’s not easy to get competitors to agree on a plan, even when they share a goal of better serving their communities. But both in Milwaukee and at WHA in Madison, Pete won widespread respect for bringing together the county, the state and most critically the local health systems to bring this state-of-the-art new psychiatric hospital into reality.” Read More.


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.

Gundersen Health System's Dr. Scott Rathgaber 2022 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, WHA nominated Gundersen Health System CEO Dr. Scott Rathgaber to receive the AHA Grassroots Champion Award for his service and efforts.
Rathgaber regularly participates in WHA grassroots advocacy initiatives, including virtual roundtable advocacy events with lawmakers. Examples include meetings with Congressman Ron Kind, who serves on the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who has been a strong supporter of a number of health care priorities like 340B. He also recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate on behalf of hospitals with members of Congress and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm.
Rathgaber also advocated on behalf of his hospital and other regional hospitals in supporting Operation Allies Welcome, in which more than 13,000 Afghan guests were housed at Fort McCoy in Monroe County in August 2021. He joined WHA and other hospital leaders in meeting with Ft. McCoy officials and hosted Homeland Security Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pritesh Gandhi at his La Crosse hospital. Rathgaber also advocated for additional federal medical resources to ensure this new population’s health care needs would not overwhelm the western Wisconsin's health care system.

Rathgaber is a champion of the Wisconsin Hospitals PAC & Conduit, personally contributing to the program, explaining the importance of this type of advocacy to others and engaging with candidates through special events. Read More.
2021 AHA Grassroots Champion - Chris Woleske
2020 AHA Grassroots Champion - John Russell
2019 AHA Grassroots Champion - David Lally
2018 AHA Grassroots Champion - Dan DeGroot
2017 AHA Grassroots Champion - Joan Coffman


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

Westfields Hospital & Clinic’s Craig Yehlik Receives WHA Trustee Award

WHA honored Craig Yehlik of Westfields Hospital & Clinic with the 2022 Trustee Award. WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding presented the award to Yehlik on Dec. 19. Yehlik is the New Richmond police chief.

For more than 60 years, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has recognized outstanding member trustees, those who excel and make an exemplary commitment to his or her hospital and community.

In presenting the award to Yehlik, Borgerding said, “I have to tell you – we have some great people get nominated for this award every single year, most being recognized for their engagement with and within the hospital. I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a nominee as revered for their work inside and outside the hospital walls, or the board table, as our recipient tonight.”
“In so many ways, Chief Yehlik is exactly the type of person this award is meant to recognize,” Borgerding added. 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.

Advocate Health’s Nan Gardetto Receives WHA Trustee Award

WHA has honored Nan Gardetto of Advocate Health with the 2022 Trustee Award. WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding presented the award to Gardetto on Dec. 12.
For more than 60 years, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has recognized outstanding member trustees, those who excel and make an exemplary commitment to his or her hospital and community.

In presenting the award to Gardetto, Borgerding said, “I’ve had the privilege of giving this award 14 times now, and sitting in on the nominating committee’s deliberation for each one. I will say I have rarely seen as strong and unanimous an endorsement from the committee as I did for this year’s recipient, Nan Gardetto.”
“Nan possesses a rare mix of empathy for patients, obviously a strong business sense, and an intimate knowledge of the communities we serve here in Wisconsin,” said Advocate Health CEO Jim Skogsbergh. “In addition to her leadership on this board, Nan has been instrumental in driving patient experience and health care transformation for services ranging from integrated medicine for cancer patients to preventing falls and hospitalizations among aging patients, to ensuring access to care for underserved patients through the Aurora Walker’s Point Community Clinic.” Read More.


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.