Inaugural Executive Leadership and Mentoring (ELM) Program

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Back row: Rudy Apodaca, Jodi Haeffner, David Waldron (instructor), Victor Sarro.

Front row: Robbie Edge, Rick Perez, Sandra Connor, Ron Bernardi, Shonna Galloway.


By Rudy Apodaca, CRA and Roberta Edge, CRA, FAHRA

September 2011–There is a growing need for imaging administrators to make contributions to healthcare by leading and taking part in projects and teams that can have a global impact. At the 2011 Annual Meeting inTexas, eight AHRA “pioneers” set out on a year long journey to “beef up” their leadership skills under the guidance of David Waldron. David is the CEO of Traction Business Development (Tracbiz) and has partnered with AHRA to create the curriculum and teach the courses in this new program. Prior to joining Tracbiz, David held executive positions with LaSalle Bank, GE Healthcare, Picker International, and Beckman Coulter. He has worked in Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America besidesNorth America. David holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, is an associate of the British Chartered Institute of Bankers, holds the Certified Diploma in Accounting and Finance, and is a graduate of theINSEAD Business School, Paris, France.

For years, AHRA has contemplated how to present a program that would be a next step for those who might wish to migrate to an executive or leadership position within their existing organizations or transition to a new environment in imaging. The first thought was to partner with a business school and send participants there for a week of intense learning. The cost was prohibitive, though, and the next idea was to go with a vendor sponsored leadership training, but again, the cost was prohibitive.

Enter ELM, the Executive Leadership and Mentoring Program which had an intense beginning at the 2011 Annual Meeting with four hour sessions each in the following subjects: finance, marketing, strategy, organization (including Lean/Six Sigma), and leadership. This first ELM class consists of Rudy Apodaca, CRA (Mercy Gilbert Medical Center), Ron Bernardi, FAHRA (York Hospital), Sandra Connor (Methodist Dallas Medical Center), Robbie Edge, CRA, FAHRA (Sutter Gould Medical Foundation), Shonna Galloway, CRA (Western Kentucky Diagnostic Imaging), Jodi Haeffner (Kishwaukee Community Hospital), Rick Perez, CRA (Winthrop University Hospital), and Victor Sarro (Jefferson University Hospitals). We spent time learning to think differently about the designated topics and broke into two groups of four to present a scenario after each subject had been discussed. There was little time to prepare, so one of the first skills was being able to network with the group and then pull a presentation together to make a case for the subject at hand. Each person had the opportunity to “chair” the group and be the presenter, thus sharpening facilitation and presentation skills, including PowerPoint utilization.

Below are some thoughts from members of the program.

Sandra Connor: “This program has enhanced my critical thinking skills and prepared me to take my team to the next level.”

Shonna Galloway: “Participating in the 2011 inaugural class of ELM pushed me to think concisely and analytically about how to approach projects and issues for my own organization. I feel better prepared to focus on issues at hand in an ever-changing radiology landscape.”

Jodi Haeffner: “The skills and business understanding we gained from the ELM program was outstanding and something I will keep forever. They don’t teach this in Rad school.”

Rick Perez: “I would think the program would be good for anyone who is in an advanced position, and want to continue to grow. After having time to review last week the program caused me to reflect back on what I am doing and how to refocus on what needs to be done to change a culture of how we look at patient care and how to bring this transitional process to the department.”

Victor Sarro: “The group session work outs were a great way to learn to develop team work & to think critically. I will most certainly be applying what I learned in my everyday activities.”

Over the next year, David Waldron, our instructor, will spend two hours per month personally coaching each of the participants on either a year long project or projects that involve the five key disciplines presented that have real-life issues in each of the participants’ workplaces. At the 2012 Annual Meeting inOrlando, each ELM member will give a 45 minute presentation on the work they have accomplished over the year. 

We found this to be a very intense, insightful beginning and an investment in ourselves to improve our skills and be able to speak the language of the executive leadership of our organizations. This class of ELM participants will be well positioned to mentor next year’s ELM group, as well as other members of our own organizations and AHRA members seeking mentors.  ELM will get you on the right path to acquiring the skills necessary to lead your organization and yourself in the next realm of imaging, with all of its challenges. This is an affordable investment in growing oneself and one’s skill set as we face an ever changing healthcare environment.


Rudy Apodaca, CRA isVP, Clinical Support Services at Catholic Healthcare West in Gilbert, AZ and can be reached at

Robbie Edge, CRA, FAHRA Director of Imaging Services at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in Modesto, CA and can be reached at

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