Lea Kaiser, MBA, Chief Financial Officer, Western Wisconsin Health

What do you do in your current role?

I am the Chief Financial Officer for Western Wisconsin Health in Baldwin, Wisc., which has a Critical Access Hospital and two rural health clinics. I started in May of 2022 after spending 17 years with Healtheast/Fairview in operational finance roles where I had the opportunity to partner with leaders across the care continuum. In my role as Chief Financial Officer, I have operational oversite over our accounting, business office, HIM/Coding/Privacy, Materials Management, Culinary and patient access parts of the business. A key part of my work is working alongside the other senior leadership team members to build and implement strategies that align with our mission, vision and values to imagine and build a healthier tomorrow together.

When and why did you join the TRUST?

I officially joined the TRUST in 2021 but have participated in TRUST events over the years.

Do you have a favorite TRUST memory so far?

I recently participated in the Olive on Tap Tasting event, which was the TRUST’s first in-person event in several months. Over the past few years, we have adapted to our virtual network environment, but nothing beats a gathering in person on a beautiful summer day.

How has a mentor helped you the most?

I am most grateful for a couple of great women mentors who helped me navigate the challenges of my desire to grow professionally while navigating the demands of children and the importance of family time.

What is the best career advice you’ve received?

Early in my career, I had support from leadership to get out and see the work that my business partners manage daily. I have ridden in ambulances, sat in on a surgery and shadowed many of the care areas I supported over the years. This approach has helped me build trust with my business partners and educate those leaders to better understand how their day-to-day decision-making impacts the organization’s financial performance.

What support do you need now to evolve your development as a leader?

I need to continue to surround myself with great mentors and coaches that provide thought-provoking questions that will push me to grow and develop to a level I never thought I could achieve.

How do you support other women in their leadership journey?

I try to lead by example as best I can. I am not always perfect, but being honest about the challenges we face and building that support system is important to ensure we grow and develop to achieve our personal and professional goals. 

How do you cope with demanding aspects of your career?

I need to take a step back, determine what I can control and what is out of my control, and prioritize the best approach that will produce the best outcomes.

How do you maintain or improve your health and well-being?

I have two active young children, and I spend a lot of time coordinating their schedules and driving them to extracurricular activities when I am not at work. Many times I sit waiting in the car while they are at practice. During those moments, I try to find time to connect with a family member over the phone or take a short walk when the weather is cooperating. In the summer, we are committed to cherishing our family time by heading to a summer cabin that allows us to escape our hectic lives and technology and find ways to rejuvenate.

Any words of wisdom you live by? I am a firm believer that I am responsible for my happiness, and if something makes me unhappy either do something to change it or stop complaining about it.