Christina M. Freese-Decker

02MS, 02MHA Young Alumni 2014

Christina M. "Tina" Freese-Decker, 02MS, 02MHA, has distinguished herself as an exceptional healthcare leader, becoming the youngest vice president of a $4.1 billion nonprofit health system.

This outstanding young alumna showed promise early in her studies at the University of Iowa, where in 2002 she earned master's degrees in health administration and industrial engineering. At Iowa, Freese-Decker received the Adrienne Astolfi Eddins Management Scholarship, awarded each year to an incoming female student judged to have great potential as a future executive. Indeed, after graduation, she proved her abilities by rising quickly through the ranks at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Starting at the healthcare organization as an administrative fellow in 2002, she soon became system director for planning and strategic development, followed by vice president of system strategic planning and development, and then executive director of Spectrum's regional hospital network. In 2011, Freese-Decker was promoted to president of Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals, and in 2012 and 2013, she helped lead the organization to recognition as a Truven Top 100 Hospital. Currently the senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Spectrum Health System, she develops and implements strategy for the system's 11 hospitals, a 1,000-member physician group, and a 570,000-member health plan.

Freese-Decker's many contributions to Spectrum Health include the development of a predictive-market model, the creation of a strategic plan, and oversight of a major construction and renovation project for the emergency department, diagnostics imaging center, heart and vascular center, and main lobby. In addition, she helped launch a physician relations program to improve engagement with physicians at Spectrum Health. Her accomplishments earned her the American College of Healthcare Executives' 2013 Robert S. Hudgens Memorial Award for Young Healthcare Executive of the Year. Previously, in 2006, she received that organization's Early Career Healthcare Executive's Regent's Award.

Richard C. Breon, the president and chief executive officer of Spectrum Health, says, "Tina has demonstrated a maturity and competency beyond her years, and her fast-track career is particularly of note in an organization of our size and complexity. Tina strikes the delicate balance of strategic planning and big-picture considerations with an uncanny attention to detail."

Such qualities have made Freese-Decker a true role model for others seeking similar success. According to Susan J. Curry, dean of the UI College of Public Health, "another indication of Tina's leadership is her interest in developing the careers of others through education and mentorship."

Freese-Decker works closely with the UI Department of Health Management and Policy (HMP) and frequently returns to campus to speak with students and interview HMP graduate students for fellowship positions at Spectrum Health. She's served as a past president of the HMP alumni board and currently holds positions on the ACHE Council of Regents for Michigan and Northwest Ohio and as a vice chair of the local YMCA.

Whether she is inspiring future executives or spearheading strategic plans, Christina M. Freese-Decker is a force for change in the world of health care.

Freese-Decker is an annual member of the UI Alumni Association.

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