An Innovative Program for Healthcare Boards

Excellence in Governance Fellowship

Healthcare providers are reconfiguring to meet the changing demands of their patients, contend with competition from nontraditional players who are edging into the provider space, engage with community partners to improve health, and use technology to develop clinical infrastructure and patient-engagement applications. Hospital boards are dealing with an evolving “big picture” and have to be active, engaged and, most importantly, informed.

Hospitals and health systems must invest in their board members to ensure the highest level of competencies to meet the challenges of a constantly evolving landscape. An outstanding board member needs broad knowledge, strategic thinking and an ongoing commitment to leadership excellence.

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association designed this rigorous and comprehensive offering to provide educational opportunities in governance leadership through a powerful combination of expert faculty, specially designed curriculum and interaction. The MHA Excellence in Governance Fellowship is highly collaborative in nature, bringing fellows together in a variety of learning formats, including retreatlike interface, virtual communications and dialogue, and peer learning circles.

The MHA believes that the CEO and board member partnership is key to any successful healthcare organization. Because we are committed to fostering this partnership, CEOs of the selected fellows receive regular communication and information to support the fellow in his or her study.

One-day, in-person classes are augmented by 90-minute virtual sessions to give board members the opportunity to fit this valuable learning into their busy schedules.

“I have returned over and over again to the governance concepts learned in the Fellowship. In retrospect I would not have wanted to navigate some of the tough decisions I’ve encountered as a board member without the training I received in the program.”
– Graduate Fellow

Value for Organizations & Individuals

The Organizational Value

  • Superior board capacity through the development of advanced governance knowledge and skills
  • Board members with highly developed leadership skills
  • Board members who know how to be relevant and engaged
  • Board members who are ambassadors and champions for the organization and the chief executive
  • Connected board members with a vast network of peers to help with challenging governance issues
  • Board members who are thoughtful — not reactionary — and understand the roles and responsibilities of the board and the CEO
  • Board members with broad competencies and a mission focus that translates into bottom-line results

Individual Value

  • An exceptional experience that provides the skills and knowledge to advance the mission and vision of the organization beyond the ordinary
  • An unparalleled opportunity to exchange ideas and explore challenges and solutions with trustees and healthcare experts
  • An opportunity to study trends in governance and healthcare and their significance to hospitals and the community
  • An understanding of pragmatic and practical ways to identify and implement board actions that enhance organizational effectiveness
  • A network of governing board colleagues to call on when challenges arise
  • Limited class size for maximum interaction, learning and peer-to-peer exchange

Session Overview


Principles of Effective Governance

Examine the principles and themes a management team and board use to move from functioning to phenomenal. Fellows explore in-depth:

  • The role of the governing board member in establishing and affirming mission
  • Financial, strategic and quality oversight, including accountability for both personal and organizational performance
  • Board and management roles
  • Changing reimbursement models and keeping a healthy balance of mission and margin
  • Providing oversight — not interference
  • Personal leadership style and its influence on board interactions
  • The importance of inquiry, influence and consensus building


The Board’s Role in Quality and Patient Safety

Learn to develop the skills to adequately assess and analyze the quality of care and patient safety in the organization by reducing board distractions and establishing clear and dependable monitoring systems. Fellows will:

  • Examine leadership and appropriate systems to allow board members to measure and monitor quality and patient safety
  • Determine the board’s role in assuring quality of care
  • Learn how to keep the patient at the center of decisions
  • Understand who measures what and why
  • Explore the most up-to-date information on value-based purchasing, transparency and pay-for-performance
  • Explore how to measure progress using dashboards
  • Choose and use the appropriate indicators
  • Examine how to use best practices in assessment and monitoring


Hospital and Medical Staff Strategic Partnerships

Explore and discover the defining principles of positive relationships with hospital medical staff. Fellows will gain a better understanding of:

  • How consolidation, incentives for hospital- physician alignment and changing reimbursement are affecting hospital-physician relationships
  • Legal considerations for physician employment, practice acquisition, joint ventures and other physician compensation models
  • The interdependence of physician, executive and board leadership in improving health and patient experience
  • How boards support high reliability, psychological safety, and other elements that are essential to establishing a safe culture
  • How to create a framework to build resiliency and reduce burnout


Personal Mastery and Accelerating Change

Investigate, analyze and learn how to develop personal capacity to lead and drive change at a pace that keeps the organization relevant. Fellows will learn to:

  • Continuously build leadership muscle
  • Challenge the inherited legacies and explore new value propositions through the study of models disrupting the industry
  • Evaluate strategies by weighing risks and rewards and the impact on the health and quality of life in their community
  • Apply their new knowledge and skills to help create accountability, consistency and reliability
  • Combat the negative impact of relentless change on morale and energy

Bonus experiences:

  • Two days of cutting-edge education and top-level networking at the MHA Annual Membership Meeting
  • Graduation of the MHA Excellence in Governance fellows!

Investment & Returns


The success and value of the MHA Excellence in Governance Fellowship is embodied in the committed and highly qualified faculty and facilitators involved in the program. The fellowship uses expert faculty in the areas of healthcare delivery, governance, legal issues, quality and patient safety, and leadership.

Time Investment

Fellows are expected to invest the time and energy needed to complete all of the activities planned for the fellowship. This learning experience is designed so that significant peer-to-peer learning will occur. Therefore, fellows should plan to attend all in-person and virtual meetings throughout the fellowship. Homework assignments will require a small amount of additional time.

Virtual Participation

With smartphones, tablets and apps changing the face of modern life, it’s only natural that these technologies would change educational opportunities too. Digital platforms have become popular for providing education at a reasonable cost. Virtual participation complements traditional participation as organizations balance time and resources.
A virtual learning environment simulates a classroom by simultaneously mixing several communication technologies. Fellows must have access to a computer with high-speed internet.

Team Incentives

Learning from and with peers only enhances the value of an educational experience. The MHA Excellence in Governance Fellowship is designed for experienced board members, and multiple board members from the same organization are invited to apply to become fellows. Tuition is discounted for more than one board member enrolling from the same organization.

Reasons to Return

Many hospitals use the fellowship to develop board members and, in particular, those moving into officer positions. We think that is a rousing endorsement! We are so committed to being your exclusive partner in governance development, we offer any organization that has sent a fellow to previous classes a discount intuition costs. Your organization wins both financially and through the ongoing development of skilled board members — that’s just one more solid reason to nominate board members for this outstanding program!


Governing board member from an MHA-member organization $7,200 per person
Board member teams of two or more from the same MHA-member organization $7,000 per person
Governing board members from MHA-member organizations with 2018-2019 graduate fellows $7,000 per


For organizations that are not members of the MHA, contact Erin Steward for fees.

Tuition covers the four in-person and all virtual sessions and the registration fee for the 2020 MHA Annual Membership Meeting (a $1,000 value). Individual travel, lodging and other related expenses are not included in the tuition. Tuition is due upon acceptance as a fellow.

All cancellations and withdrawals must be submitted in writing. For cancellations and withdrawals on or before July 1, 2020, tuition will be returned, less a processing fee of 25 percent. Alternates may be accepted following review.

2020-2021 Session Dates

In-person sessions will be held at the MHA headquarters, 2112 University Park Dr., Okemos, MI. If needed, hotel accommodations can be made at the Best Western, 2209 University Park Dr., Okemos, MI, by calling (517) 349-8700.

Fall Session: Oct. 23, 2020

Winter Session: Jan. 22, 2021

Spring Session: April 23, 2021

Summer Session: June 22 - 23, 2021

Fellowship concludes and graduation occurs during the 2021 MHA Annual Membership Meeting at the Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island.

(Fellows meet June 22 - 23; MHA Annual Membership Meeting is June 23 - 25.)

2019-2020 Class Roster

MHA Excellence in Governance Fellowship Class Seventeen Fellows

Marilyn Beverley
Munising Memorial Hospital

James Blanchard
Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital Manistique

John Bueno
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland

Eric Ferguson, MD
St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor

Robert Heitmeier
Mercy Health St. Mary’s, Grand Rapids

Richard Helppie
Saint Joseph Mercy Chelsea/U of M Joint Health Venture

Srinivas Janardan, MD
Mercy Health St. Mary’s, Grand Rapids

John Kill
Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital

James Liggins, Jr.
Bronson Healthcare Group, Kalamazoo

Jason Lindauer
St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea

Anne Murphy
Gift of Life Michigan, Ann Arbor

Tami Salens
McClaren Thumb Region, Bad Axe

Cynthia Springer
Mercy Health St. Mary’s, Grand Rapids

Rhonda Wisenbaugh
Scheurer Health, Pigeon

For more information and to apply, download the complete brochure or contact us.

Download brochure & application

Contact Us

“The MHA Excellence In Governance Fellowship has given my board members an experience like no other.”
– Sponsoring organization CEO

“The MHA Excellence In Governance Fellowship sets the benchmark for contemporary and practical governance education. Board members that graduate from the program make tremendous contributions to governance in our organization and our community mission has been advanced.”
– Sponsoring organization CEO

“It was very important for me to build a network, learn best practices and gain skills to make me a better board member. It's truly a great opportunity for a hospital to build the 'dream team' they want for their board.”
– Graduate Fellow

Who Becomes a Fellow?

Fellows come from the governing boards of hospitals, health systems and other healthcare organizations. A minimum of one year of board experience is required for consideration to become a fellow. Many organizations use the fellowship as a platform to educate board members who are advancing to the chairman role.

In-Person and Virtual Participation

The fellows will meet in person for one day each quarter of the year. Each month between the in-person meetings, fellows will spend 90 minutes meeting virtually. Virtual participation complements traditional participation as organizations balance time and resources. Access to a computer with high-speed internet access is required.

MHA 100 Year Anniversary

Watch the video »