Trinity University’s health care administration (HCAD) programs are recognized throughout the nation for their excellence, and so are their graduates.
Trinity’s On-Campus and Executive HCAD programs, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) since 1968, prepare their students to be leaders who will transform health care by providing an intensive, hands-on learning environment. Trinity HCAD students take on community projects with practical impact, such as developing a strategic plan for a hospital in an underserved community.
Students in Trinity’s HCAD programs are supported during and after their studies by their outstanding faculty mentors and the extensive, engaged network of HCAD alumni. Though the program may end after graduation, the connections made during the program are long-lasting. Alumni connect with faculty and each other, and they also mentor current students in the programs by developing real-world course projects, serving as preceptors in a residency, or serving on Trinity’s Advisory Council.
After graduating, Trinity’s HCAD alumni disperse throughout the nation to lead successfully in the healthcare industry. In this story, we’ve gathered some alumni together to share their success stories and reflect on their time in Trinity's HCAD programs. Meet these eight outstanding HCAD alumni and hear how their Trinity education set them up to be leaders in their field.
- Jose A. Echavarria M’17
Jose A. Echavarria is the CEO of Woodland Heights Medical Center. Just six months into residency, his CEO at the time, a Trinity alum, informed him of a position at St. Joseph Medical Center. Thanks to his Trinity connections, Echavarria was presented with a career opportunity that set him up for success. After that role, he went on to serve as the vice president of operations at St. Joseph Medical Center from 2019-20, as the assistant CEO at Northwest Health from 2020-21, and as the CEO at Northwest Medical Center Springdale from 2021-23 before his current position at Woodland Heights Medical Center.
“While researching several programs, it became apparent that Trinity was amongst the top-ranked programs not only in Texas but across the nation,” Echavarria says. “None of the other programs I considered offered the opportunity to apply what you learned from the didactic portion into a year-long, real world, hands-on residency at great healthcare institutions located in Texas or across the U.S.”
In addition to unique hands-on opportunities, the course topics in the On-Campus Program prepared him to be an innovative healthcare leader. “I first heard of population health management in Dr. Shay's class. Fast forward a few years later, and this is something that I'm now taking a more prominent role to address within our East Texas community,” Echavarria says. “With the aging population and value-based payment structures, we are developing strategies to address disease prevention, increase care coordination, and partner with other organizations to promote health education.”
After graduation, the On-Campus Program has continued to impact Echavarria’s personal and professional life. “I consider some of my classmates my best friends, and we have been there supporting each other for every milestone in life post-Trinity,” he says. “I have had many great alumni mentors that I still keep in touch with to this day, and I'm now paying it forward by being a mentor and adviser to current students and recent graduates both within my own healthcare organization and outside.”
To those considering one of Trinity’s HCAD programs, Echavarria says, “Do it! You will have no regrets.”
- Katie Fiedler M’19
Katherine (Katie) Fiedler is the senior director of professional and support services for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, an 88-bed community hospital in Allen, Texas, that is part of the Texas Health System.
Fiedler says she chose Trinity for its reputation in both Texas and the nation as well as for its robust alumni network.
“I learned a lot from the onsite visits that Trinity sets up for the students to attend and the speakers that are brought in,” she says. “These experiences help to bridge the gap between theory that is discussed in the classroom and the reality that healthcare leaders face in the real world.”
Fiedler completed her administrative residency with Texas Health Resources in 2019, and her administrative fellowship with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen in 2020.
“When I was in my administrative residency, the president of Texas Health Allen at the time was also a Trinity alumnus, and he really took me under his wing, allowing me to complete my fellowship year under him and his hospital,” Fiedler says. “This opportunity gave me the necessary experience to continue growing my career at Texas Health. I have progressed in leadership positions over the past four years at Texas Health Allen and currently oversee all the non-nursing operational areas of the hospital and help to drive hospital strategy and business development.”
In 2023, she was selected and completed Texas Health’s LIFT leadership program aimed at developing leaders who are primed to innovate and keep up with the fast-paced and ever-changing healthcare landscape.
“I owe much of where I am today to fellow Trinity alumni who were willing to help me along the way,” Fiedler says. “In fact, my current boss as well as my most recent previous boss both are Trinity MHA alumni. I frequently have lunch with and seek advice from multiple different executives within Texas Health who went to Trinity for their MHAs.”
Fiedler encourages anyone who is interested in Trinity’s HCAD programs to reach out to alumni and pick their brains about their experience and careers to help determine if Trinity’s programs are the right fit.
- Andrew Jones M’17
Andrew Jones is the vice president of performance improvement for HCA’s Mountain Division. In this role, he oversees operations for emergency departments, surgical operating rooms, bed management, patient throughput, and staffing for 11 hospitals across Utah, Idaho, and Alaska. Over the course of his career, he has led teams, overseen construction and strategic growth projects, driven capital investment processes, and headed up software product investment initiatives in the healthcare space.
Jones chose Trinity’s On-Campus Program because of its emphasis on administrative residency as part of the curriculum. “I wanted to get real hands-on experience with leadership teams, and I was impressed with the way that Trinity had positioned itself in placing students with strong organizations,” he says. “I also loved the idea of only having 18 months of class work before entering the workforce. I was burned out of school but knew I wanted to get a Master of Health Care Administration to progress in my career, so the expedited timeline was perfect for me.”
One part of the program that stuck with Jones was the process improvement classes where he was Lean Six Sigma black belt trained. “It shifted my mindset and taught me how to think about solving complex problems,” he says. “I still use so much of what I learned from that class in my day-to-day work now.”
Jones has kept in close contact with the HCAD faculty, who have served as mentors to him as he has made key decisions in his career. “Their support and guidance have been invaluable to me,” he says. “I also developed close relationships that I value and maintain even to this day with my classmates and fellow alums; it’s been a huge benefit to my career and life.”
When Jones was trying to decide which school to attend for his Master of Health Care Administration degree, a high-level healthcare executive advised him: “If you’re in at Trinity, you should run, not walk, to go enroll there.” Jones couldn’t agree more. “If you’re serious about a career in healthcare administration and want a program that will propel your career forward,” Jones says, “Trinity is a perfect place to accomplish that.”
- Frances Monroe M’11
Frances Monroe is the system director of population health and wellness strategy for Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, Texas. She has approximately 12 years of experience in public and population health, hospital/clinic operations, and implementation of strategic programs and services. Monroe is passionate about creating innovative strategies to expand value-based care initiatives, addressing social determinants of health, advancing well-being offerings, and leveraging technology and meaningful systems to expand access to healthcare services equitably.
Though she is now a leader in the healthcare industry, Monroe initially pursued a different route after graduating from Trinity with her Master of Health Care Administration. However, in true Trinity liberal arts fashion, her time in this other field proved to be a valuable hands-on learning experience.
“I started off in project management leading system-wide operational, quality, IT, and construction projects—not your typical start as a Trinity HCAD grad,” she says. “However, it gave me a solid foundation to lead clinic and hospital operations as well as service line development. For the last several years, I've been focused on population health, ACO metric operations, and wellness services.”
What drew Monroe to Trinity’s On-Campus Program was its “stellar and one-of-a-kind” network. Spanning across the nation, this Trinity network is an integral part of every student's educational experience and continues to be so long after graduation. “We have an incredibly tight-knit community of alumni. The level of education, access to executives, and residency and fellowship opportunities provide a unique and incredible experience,” she says.
Monroe encourages current HCAD students not to be shy when it comes to networking. “Networking is a critical part of our industry. Don't be nervous or scared to do so, and be intentional about communicating where you desire your professional trajectory to go,” she says. “My advice to early careerists is to utilize the network as soon as you graduate. It’ll be there to support you in transitional times and celebrate with you as you advance.”
- Natalie Kelly Whitmer M’17
Natalie Whitmer is the COO of TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center, a 119-bed acute-care hospital in Smyrna, Tennessee.
Whitmer kickstarted her professional healthcare career by attending Trinity’s On-Campus Program. “Without a doubt, this program is what propelled my career quickly. What is learned in the classroom is not only relevant but dynamic and exciting,” she says. “Then, layer the residency on top of the classroom portion, and it sets you light-years ahead of others because of the experience of working alongside a senior leader for an entire year, ultimately possibly resulting in a job post-residency.”
Whitmer points to the Friday morning class guest speakers from all over the country and hospital site visits as two valuable highlights of the program.
For Whitmer, the Trinity HCAD faculty have been a huge support and wonderful resource even years after graduating, whether as a simple touchpoint to say hello or to discuss the pros and cons of a career update. “I know that I have called Dr. Schumacher on numerous occasions to tell him of a recent opportunity I have been given, asking his advice, what or who he knows in the new organization, etc.,” she says.
After graduating from Trinity and completing her administrative residency, Whitmer began her career as the director of administrative projects at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Since then, she has served in various positions for HCA, including assistant vice president of strategy and program development with HCA Healthcare’s West Florida Division and vice president of operations at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point Hospital before her current position with TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center.
To those considering applying to one of Trinity’s HCAD programs, Whitmer says, “There is no question that the programs are top tier and considered unbeatable learning experiences that bring unprecedented exposure to key healthcare leaders. Many leaders within healthcare have Trinity somewhere in their academic experience, whether that is the On-Campus Program or the Executive Program.”
- Jon Calvin M’19, FACHE
Jon Calvin serves as the CEO of Lone Star Circle of Care (LSCC), a large outpatient clinic network of 27 locations spanning six counties in Texas that provides primary care for all ages, integrated behavioral and mental health, comprehensive obstetrics and gynecology, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, and mobile mammography services. Calvin served as LSCC’s CFO for over six years before moving into the CEO role in late 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2017, Calvin was recognized as a finalist for Austin Business Journal’s Best CFO award.
“When I started Trinity’s Executive HCAD program, I was serving as LSCC’s CFO,” Calvin says. “I had a strong background in accounting and finance, but there was an opportunity to become more well-rounded in healthcare administration. The Executive Program appeared manageable with my demanding career and the right fit, so I pursued it.”
During his time in the program, Calvin worked on two real-world business initiatives as part of his coursework: a business proposal to expand operations into a new market in
partnership with a large academic institution and a strategic planning process.
“I still vividly recall the CEO of my company at the time telling me that she could see the value of the program in my work and decision-making,” Calvin says. “The professional development and academic pedigree of Trinity also provided comfort to LSCC’s Board of Directors when appointing me permanent CEO after my predecessor transitioned out.”
In addition to professional development, Calvin is grateful for the personal connections he made through the Executive Program. “While in the program, the faculty were responsive and kept us engaged. Since graduating, I had the opportunity to work with an administrative resident from the program as an employer, and I am still in contact with HCAD faculty leadership today,” he says. “When I come across other alumni, there is an inherent level of respect and openness to connect and support each other. It is an incredible community.”
Calvin encourages those considering Trinity’s Executive Program to apply “if you desire to be a leader in healthcare administration.”
- Dale Flowers M’99
Dale Flowers began his professional career in public accounting, working for KPMG Peat Marwick for three years before deciding to transition to the healthcare industry. After working with the Sisters of Charity Healthcare System (now CHRISTUS Health) in Houston for about five years, Flowers decided he wanted to pursue a career in health care and thus sought to obtain a Master of Health Care Administration.
After researching a few options, Flowers determined that the Trinity Executive Program was a strong program that would allow him to learn from and work with great faculty and students.
“My experience in the Executive Program was excellent. Although our interaction with the faculty was more limited, the support and direction provided by the faculty was always very good and accessible,” Flowers says. “Dr. Mary Stefl was chair of the HCAD department at the time, and she was stellar. Dr. Stefl did a great job of keeping in contact with me and encouraging me to stay involved with the HCAD program.”
It was Stefl who presented Flowers with the opportunity to serve on the HCAD Advisory Council, which he’s served on for the past 13 years, interacting with his fellow HCAD alums and current HCAD students (“The Trinity mafia is real!”).
After graduating from Trinity, Flowers worked in various corporate and hospital financial roles for eight years before joining the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston in 2001. Throughout his seven-year tenure with the system, he served in CFO, COO, and CEO roles in different Memorial Hermann hospitals. In 2008, he transitioned to the chief administrative officer role in the UT Health Physicians group. After leading UT Health Physicians through a period of tremendous change and growth, Flowers joined U.S. Anesthesia Partners, Inc. (USAP) in 2017 as their senior vice president of operations for the North Texas region. In July 2021, he was promoted to his current role of COO.
“Obviously, I am biased towards the Trinity HCAD programs. I would encourage anyone who is seeking a career in healthcare administration to strongly consider Trinity University,” Flowers says.
- Audrey Tio M’11, M.D.
Audrey Tio is a board-certified internist who has been practicing medicine for 20 years in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She currently serves as the chief medical officer for network performance management for Sutter Health and as the medical director for accountable care for Gould Medical Group in the Central Valley, where she has oversight roles for activities related to the approximately 50,000 Sutter value-based program patients in that area. Tio has been with Sutter Health for 11 years, and she was involved in the inception and leadership of Sutter Compass Connect, a longitudinal care management program for seniors as a part of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Health Care Innovations Award with the Pacific Business Group on Health.
Tio completed her medical training at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque after medical school at UT Health Science Center San Antonio (UTHSCSA). Before her move to Sutter Health, she served as a clinical associate professor of medicine at UTHSCSA, where she heard about Trinity’s health care administration programs.
“My boss at the time took me to lunch with several physician executives at UTHSCSA—all of whom had an MBA or MHA and had worked in large organizations like Johns Hopkins. They all told me about Trinity’s reputation, and several commented that Trinity was one of the few programs that they looked to when hiring leaders.”
This conversation was instrumental in her decision to choose Trinity’s Executive Program to earn her Master of Health Care Administration.
Tio reflects that Trinity’s program set her up to be a successful leader in the healthcare industry. “I was able to learn pretty deeply about problems related to current state healthcare financing and the regulatory challenges that it has created. And in tandem, there was an emphasis on teaching the soft skills that would be needed to lead through this time of tremendous and tumultuous change,” she says. “Although I entered the program hoping to gain technical expertise in finance and strategic forecasting (which I did), I quickly learned that the soft skills were the things that healthcare leaders would need to hone to lead change.”
Are you ready to take the next step in your professional career? Learn more about health care administration at Trinity, or apply today.