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.

2022 WHA Trustee Award 2022 WHA Distinguished Service Award

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.
Inside the hospital, Yehlik has served on the Westfields Hospital & Clinic board since 2019. After just one year, he began serving on the executive committee. There he helped guide the hospital’s initial and long-term COVID-19 response while also helping the hospital think bigger and more strategic about its work.
Yehlik has been an integral part of the changes Westfields has made to its governing board and realignment of the health partners hospitals within the St. Croix Valley. He has led challenging conversations about COVID-19 vaccines and policies and community safety and well-being.
Within the community, Yehlik has been the New Richmond police chief for six years, and in the department for over 27 years. He has lent his time and knowledge to create family safety night for area elementary schools, as well as the initiative Living Well Together in the community. Yehlik has also been recognized by school leadership, teachers and students for his commitment to helping with behavioral health care solutions between the school district, the police and the hospital. He volunteers his time in various capacities, including hosting community training on active threat situations, participating in “shop with a cop” events and serving as a member of the International Association of Police Chiefs.
When accepting the award, Yehlik shared, “That’s a tremendous honor. I was not expecting that...I really appreciate it, hearing the kind words said and some of the things we take pride in here in New Richmond. You know, it takes a village.”
As part of his recognition, WHA will donate $500 to the charity of Yehlik’s choice.


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.”
Acknowledgements of merit include Gardetto’s service on Advocate Aurora’s Board for 12 years, where it’s been her mission to ensure access and equity to the community. Gardetto chaired Aurora’s Safety and Quality Committee. She drew upon her personal experiences to be the voice of those not at the table.
Her philanthropy has been influenced by the experiences of her family and her desire to help other families, particularly those in need. In 2015, Gardetto provided generous support to the Aurora Health Care Foundation, which provided service to more than 7,000 cancer patients last year at free or reduced cost. She has generously donated to support Wisconsin’s largest free clinic, Aurora Walker's Point Community Clinic; Aurora’s Behavioral Health and Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence programs; and Aurora’s Aging Well Initiative.
“I’m really, really honored by this recognition. It means a lot to me. It’s been a real privilege to serve on various Aurora boards and committees over the years, and it’s been, personally, very fulfilling to me. I’ve learned an awful lot and I’ve gotten to work alongside some amazing talented people who really have been examples of what passionate, compassionate care looks like,” commented Gardetto.
As part of her recognition, WHA will donate $500 to the charity of Gardetto’s choice.


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. Evan Goyke Receives 2022 Health Care Advocate Award

The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has recognized State Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) with the Association’s 2022 Health Care Advocate of the Year Award.

Goyke was honored at WHA’s virtual Advocacy Day event on March 23 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.

WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding presented Goyke the award at WHA’s Advocacy Day event, held virtually this year and attended by nearly 1,000 hospital supporters.

“Representative Goyke continues to serve as a strong partner in the state legislature alongside Wisconsin hospitals,” said Borgerding. “He understands the tremendous challenges hospitals face, as they are expected by some to fill roles that have been abdicated by government for decades. He knows that this tremendous task is only possible if hospitals are supported by state lawmakers.”

Borgerding added, “We look forward to continuing our work alongside Representative Goyke to bring solutions that will improve health for all Wisconsin residents. Evan doesn’t just show up, he leads.”  Read more.


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

Advocate Aurora Health Receives WHA Advocacy All-Star Award

The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has awarded its 2022 Advocacy All-Star Award to Advocate Aurora 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.

Advocate Aurora President and CEO Jim Skogsbergh accepted the award at WHA’s Advocacy Day event, held virtually this year and attended by nearly 1,000 hospital supporters.

“Advocate Aurora Health has been an outstanding advocacy partner with WHA. Members of the Advocate Aurora team are always willing to step up to discuss important issues,” said WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding. “Their longstanding and ongoing level of commitment to advocacy supports all our state’s hospitals,” Borgerding added.

“We’ve all seen how discussions and debates—whether that be in Madison or Washington, D.C.—directly impact the care that we’re providing to our patients,” said Jim Skogsbergh. “You, WHA, pull us all together, and the stakes are way too high to sit on the sidelines, particularly when navigating the global pandemic,” Skogsbergh continued. Read more.


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

Fort HealthCare’s Wallace Recognized with WHA 2021 Distinguished Service Award

WHA has awarded its 2021 Distinguished Service Award to Fort HealthCare President and CEO Mike Wallace. The award was presented to Wallace by WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding at Fort HealthCare on Oct. 27.
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.
Wallace was nominated for the award by his Fort HealthCare colleagues Carl Selvick, senior director of clinical operations and Lisa Jensen, vice president of nursing services, as well as Fort HealthCare Board Chair Mary Behling. All noted the tremendous work Wallace has done and is doing to improve the health and well being of his community.
“Mike is a tireless champion and voice for hospitals and rural health care, in fact all health care, in front of our elected officials in both Washington, DC and Madison,” Borgerding said in presenting the award.  I cannot think of another WHA member leader who has participated in more meetings with elected officials and who has testified in front of more committees, than Mike – many trips to Madison and Washington, D.C, where he is listened to and heard.  It’s no surprise that under Mike’s leadership, Fort HealthCare was given the WHA Advocacy All Star Award in 2018.
Borgerding went on to list the many significant contributions Wallace has made to the WHA board of directors. He has served on the WHA board of directors since 2011, and as board chair in 2016. He was the nominating committee and advocacy committee chair in 2017, chaired the public policy council from 2014-2016, in addition to numerous other WHA councils, workgroups and taskforces. 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.

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


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.