Springfield, MO

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2014 Men of the Year Honoree: Bill Hennessey

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Bill Hennessey thought his first post-military job would be a starter position from which he’d move on to a new job in a new town. That was 25 years ago, and he’s still here.

Following four years in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps in Honolulu – he received a commission as an officer after graduating from the University of Notre Dame – Hennessey moved to Springfield in 1989 to work for St. John’s health system, now known as Mercy, to launch a working relationship that continues today.

“What my wife, Dawn, and I thought would be a first civilian job that would lead to a next job ... has happily become my vocation,” Hennessey says. “Community opportunities for leadership have been plentiful and, gratefully, are highly encouraged by my employer.”

In his first job with the health system, Hennessey helped develop the first network of employed physicians in the region throughout 25 counties in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. When he moved into the position of director of planning, marketing and communications, he stayed in the role for 21 years.

Hennessey developed the first comprehensive external marketing campaigns and served as the strategy and marketing leader for the regional system, which had six hospitals, 600 physicians and 10,500 employees. During the mid-2000s, Hennessey developed a branding strategy to unify several hundred separately named entities under the St. John’s name, an effort of which he is particularly proud.

“I was selected as part of a senior leadership team,” Hennessey says. “My role was to organize the marketing team to lead the process to create and implement the plan ... (which) led to a comprehensive branding campaign and name-change recommendations throughout our 35-county services.”

In 2010, Hennessey moved into his current position of regional vice president for marketing and communications for Mercy’s central region, which includes 19 hospitals, 400 physician practice settings and 20,000 employees in southwest Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas. He helped manage the conversion to the Mercy master brand in 2012. Hennessey also was part of the leadership team that managed communications following the EF5 tornado that struck Joplin in May 2011.

“In all these endeavors, I seek input ... and try to incorporate the talents and desires of the team members,” he says. “I love the projects in which we all roll our sleeves up to get the work accomplished. Titles don’t matter. Everyone should have a chance to input into the plan.”

With three sons who graduated from Springfield Catholic Schools, Hennessey is active with the school system, having served two years as president of the Springfield Catholic Schools Development Board. He even donned dancing shoes a few years ago and stepped into the final spot for the board’s fundraiser, Dancing with Our Stars.

“Leadership isn’t always comfortable,” Hennessey says. “We raised a lot of money for a great cause, and this tradition continues today. Sometimes as leaders, we have to step out of our comfort zones.”

And if dancing for a good cause wasn’t enough, Hennessey is the drummer for Caduceus – The Doctors Band, a not-for-profit group that raises money for nursing scholarships.[[In-content Ad]]


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