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Inside HIMSS: A Conversation with Forty Under 40® Winning HIMSS Employees

Two HIMSS employees received the distinctive honor of being named one of Association Forum and USAE’s Forty Under 40®. This prestigious program recognizes 40 accomplished association or non-profit professionals who are under the age of 40, demonstrate high potential for continued success in leadership roles and exhibit a strong passion for - and commitment to - the association management and nonprofit industries.

Mari Greenberger is our director of informatics for HIMSS North America. Based out of the Chicago office, with a five-year stint away from the organization, Mari has been with HIMSS for an aggregate of eight years.

Lauren Hernandez is our senior manager for HIMSS North America marketing. Based out of her home office in Carmel, Ind. Lauren has been with HIMSS for seven years.

 

How did you become interested in associations and why have you stayed at HIMSS?

Lauren: Great question. I was attracted to the association world because of the power I saw in “we.” We can create change. We can rally around a profound cause – one that positively impacts other professionals. There’s no better feeling than knowing you are working for a cause-based organization – it truly makes me love my job.

And that “we” is often a much smaller crew than at a for-profit company, allowing young professionals to take on more responsibility and not just feel like a cog in the wheel. Working at HIMSS has allowed for quick growth and a wider range of professional experiences.

Mari: The association world is unique. You have this incredible marriage, and luxury, of doing caused-based work, and if you are lucky, you have access to resources from for-profit entities to help drive the mission and vision of the organization forward. If done correctly, the creation of an incredible symbiotic relationship between the for-profit and non-profit arms can have a powerful impact.

Lauren: I love that thought, Mari. Relationships are the lifeblood of HIMSS, as continually demonstrated by our passionate members, and the strong volunteer culture HIMSS has created. Over the summer, I attended the Chapter Leader Exchange at the HIMSS Innovation Center. To witness the dedication and hard work our Chapter Leaders put into managing a local chapter—as a volunteer on top of their “nine to five”—is really mind-blowing. It completely validated why I’m proud to build my career at HIMSS. I care about our members’ careers and the impact they have. My goal is to make each individual a powerhouse of knowledge within his or her organization.

Mari: Creating a better-connected and coordinated healthcare ecosystem for our nation is my primary focus each day at HIMSS. This work would not be possible without the collaboration of visionary leaders and content experts whom I have come to know and respect throughout my career. HIMSS has nurtured my passion to become a subject matter expert in all matters that affect secure electronic exchange of health information for all people. Not only am I encouraged to learn and be curious about how to make a meaningful difference in healthcare, but HIMSS leadership also expects me to synthesize information and create my own opinions – my voice is valued and my opinions encouraged. I started my career working for HIMSS in the Washington, D.C. office educating Congressional leadership and staff on all matters surrounding health information and technology, which whetted my appetite to understand healthcare and the policies that affect it.

After five-years away from HIMSS, the stars aligned and I returned to the organization. I brought my direct experience from the field as well as my Master’s education in public policy and public administration. The culture of HIMSS is truly unique, and I cherish the growth opportunities the organization has given me – including the encouragement to apply for this award.

 

What advice do you have for a young person entering or thinking about entering the association sector?

Mari: Do it! The association world is changing for the better, and many places are doing cutting-edge and meaningful work in many different sectors. I can only speak to healthcare, because that is all I know. I can say with absolute certainty that the work we are doing at HIMSS has real impact at a policy level, at the provider level and beyond. I would also recommend that a young person entering this sector keep their ears open and meet as many people within an association as possible to better understand how each department fits together. This approach ultimately allows you to better grasp the full landscape and breadth of work occurring at the company.

Lauren: Get ready to be a continuous learner. I had no previous background in healthcare – graduating from Michigan State with a degree in advertising – but I have gone on to build a successful career in associations for radiologists (RSNA) and at HIMSS. What drives my success is a desire to deeply invest myself in learning everything about this sector.

 

What are some of your favorite memories of HIMSS?

Lauren: There are so many to choose from, so I’ll give you something unexpected. Riding the staff bus at obscenely early hours on the way to the annual conference venue each year is something I secretly love. As staff, we arrive to the convention center hours before the attendees even think about their first cup of coffee! The comradery and anticipation of the day ahead fuels me, and, no surprise, I’m a morning person.

Mari: Well, I wish I could say I ‘secretly love’ the early hours of our annual conference like Lauren, but I definitely have great memories of our annual conference. While the conference itself is an incredible show, it is definitely the comradery and ‘can do’ mindset that all HIMSS staff have onsite – you feel it the moment you walk into the convention center. There is this sense that no challenge is insurmountable, and we are all in this together – no matter how stressful the situation feels at the time (or at what crazy hour of the day it occurs!). We are a family and are there to support each other through it all.

Lauren: We are a family! Though I’d say we completely support each other maybe 363 days out of the year. Baseball opening day in the Chicago office, when everyone wears White Sox or Cubs gear, can get a little heated. And Halloween contests can bring out some real rivalry. In years past, our marketing team has gone all out, only to be bitterly defeated by the HIMSS Analytics and social media departments. I still hold a grudge. (Kidding.)

Mari: Another fond memory I have was my first Public Policy Summit during National Health IT Week, back in 2006. The event was called ‘Advocacy Day’, and I had the opportunity to go on the Hill visits to the Illinois House of Representatives and Senators’ offices with other HIMSS members from the area. It was during that day where I realized the incredible value that HIMSS provides its members, and the trusted, bi-partisan voice HIMSS provides for the healthcare community. During that day on the Hill, I will also share that I was completely star struck when I had the opportunity to meet then Senator Barack Obama in the lobby of his office… he said how much he appreciated the work we were doing, and to keep it up – it felt pretty awesome!

#WomeninHIT