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Baldrige Foundation Announces 2024 Leadership Award Recipients

Awardees Represent Large and Small Business, Health Care, Education, Nonprofit, Cybersecurity, Communities, and Government

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Al Faber, President and CEO of the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, Inc., today announced the 2024 recipients of the Baldrige Foundation’s Leadership Awards.

“We have four categories of leadership awards,” said Faber, “that recognize outstanding individuals, leaders, and supporters who embody Baldrige leadership and management values and principles, and who have provided outstanding service to the Baldrige community and beyond.”

E. David Spong Lifetime Achievement Award

The E. David Spong Lifetime Achievement award recognizes individuals who have performed truly extraordinary service that has changed the world, and inspired others to do the same. The 2024 recipient of the Spong Award is Mary Bixby, Superintendent School Services and Founder, The Charter School of San Diego. “Mary is a transformational leader who has made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of at-risk students,” said Faber. “For her entire career Mary has applied and championed the Baldrige Criteria to plan and establish futuristic alternative educational settings that cater to individual student needs, improving their opportunities and their lives.”

Harry S. Hertz Leadership Award

“The Hertz Leadership Award recognizes role-model leaders that challenge, encourage, and empower others to achieve performance excellence,” said Faber. The award is being presented this year to Cindy Milrany, CFO/Chief Strategy Officer at Freese and Nichols. “Cindy is a role-model leader deeply committed to the Baldrige Framework,” said Faber. “She leads strategic planning and continuous improvement, and has helped transform Freese and Nichols, resulting in their receiving the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2010.”

Foundation Awards for Leadership Excellence

“The Foundation Awards for Leadership Excellence were established to recognize leaders who provide exceptional support to Baldrige and the Foundation’s mission, helping to sustain Baldrige into the future, and promoting the positive impact of Baldrige on organizational and community success,” continued Faber, “including U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito and former Member of Congress Robert L Livingston, who have been pivotal actors in restoring and maintaining federal funding for the Baldrige Program at NIST.”

“The Foundation Awards for Leadership Excellence have been presented in Business (Manufacturing, Service, Small Business), Nonprofit, Government, Health Care, Education, and Cybersecurity. With Congress adding “Community” as a sector for the Baldrige Award in 2022, the Foundation is, for the first time, also including Community leaders for these awards.”

The award recipients for 2024 by sector are:


  • The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito, U.S. Senator from West Virginia
  • Robert L Livingston, Former Member of Congress and founder of The Livingston Group


  • Heather Adkins, Vice President of Security Engineering, Google
  • Brad Arkin, Senior Vice President, Chief Security & Trust Officer, Cisco
  • Julie Chua, Director, Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • George Finney, CSO, Southern Methodist University
  • Gregory T. Garcia, Executive Director, Health Sector Coordinating Council Cybersecurity Working Group
  • Carter Groome, Chief Executive Officer, First Health Advisory
  • Mari Rose Savickis, MPA, Vice President, Public Policy, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives


  • Robert W. Cain, SVP and CIO North America, Schneider Electric
  • Raymond Floyd, Consultant to Private Equity, Operational Excellence for Special Situations


  • Kevin Lee, President and CEO, Mid-America Transplant
  • Jill Schwieters, Health Care Executive & Entrepreneur


  • Kathleen Hetherington, Ed.D., President Emeritus, Howard Community College
  • Tamara A. Johnson, Ph.D., Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Harper College
  • Anthony C. Stanowski, DHA, FACHE, President & CEO, Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education


  • Michelle Aregood, Director of Quality Assurance, Southcentral Foundation
  • Lori Persohn, MSN, RN, NE-BC, VP Patient Services and Chief Nursing Officer, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center
  • Paul Rosenfeld, Executive Director of Rutland Nursing Home, Schulman & Schachne Institute, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center
  • Theresa Sullivan, MBA, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer, Samaritan Healthcare
  • Ashley R. Vertuno, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer, HCA Florida JFK North Hospital


  • Manuel G. Castañeda, Associate & Faculty, Communities of Excellence 2026
  • Christel A.K. Gollnick, Founder and President, JUPER Communications/Founder, Roots & Rounds, Associate and Faculty, Communities of Excellence 2026 and Navigation Team, Maximize NWMO
  • Kimberly A. Halfhill, Founder, KH Consulting and Associate and Faculty Member, Communities of Excellence 2026
  • Barbara Jiménez, MPH, Community Operations Officer, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency
  • Brian Lassiter, President, Performance Excellence Network
  • Molly McGovern, City Manager, City of Excelsior Springs, MO
  • Michelle Mejia, MAA, Health Promotion & Strategic Partnership Consultant, West Kendall Baptist Hospital
  • Steve Wenger, Navigation Team Member, Maximize Northwest Missouri 

Dr. Curt Reimann Baldrige Scholarship

Understanding that the sustainability of Baldrige also requires an investment in future generations of Baldrige scholars and practitioners, the Foundation Board of Directors established the Dr. Curt Reimann Baldrige Scholarship to assist graduate students or recent graduates in attending Baldrige Examiner training.  Upon completion, examiners help to promote awareness and use of the Baldrige Framework.

 The 2024 Dr. Curt Reimann Baldrige Scholarship recipients are:

  • Magnus Ekwunife, Team Coach, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank Group)
  • Julie Hall MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer, VP of Patient Services and Magnet Program Director, Bassett Medical Center, Bassett Healthcare Network

The Foundation’s Leadership Awards will be presented during the Foundation Awards Ceremony held as part of the annual Quest for Excellence® conference near Washington, D.C. on April 9, 2024.

For more information on these awards or the Quest for Excellence® conference, contact: Mark Wayda, 614-600-0432 or