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Council Fellows: A Conversation with Hayley Hovious

The 28 newest Council Fellows from the Class of 2019 recently completed the six-month program. Who will be in the Class of 2020? Applications open until Oct. 22, 2019.

Preparing to welcome the eighth class of Council Fellows, Nashville Health Care Council President Hayley Hovious recently shared insights with Nashville Medical News into what makes the intensive five-month program so special and so necessary. A former director of Council Fellows, Hovious has a unique perspective on how the program has grown and evolved since the idea was first floated in 2012 to tackle some of the industry's most complex issues.

NMN: What was the impetus to create Council Fellows?

Hayley Hovious

Hayley Hovious: The Nashville Health Care Council launched the Fellows program in 2012 in response to sweeping changes that were affecting the healthcare industry -- and still are today. The industry needed an intensive, advanced leadership initiative that brought together truly senior leaders from all of healthcare's sectors to help develop solutions to the complex needs of the U.S. healthcare system.

Since its inception, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, and Larry Van Horn, healthcare management and economics professor at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, have co-chaired the program.

NMN: Has there been a common denominator among the various classes?

Hayley: Over time we have seen the value of bringing together executives from across healthcare sectors. Breaking down the silos that exist in the industry has led to unique collaborations and problem solving. Fellows have worked on projects together and started new businesses based on their experiences in the program.

NMN: What continues to surprise you about the program?

Hayley: The fact that the program continues to improve each year is impressive when you consider the quality of speakers we have attracted since its inception and the caliber of candidates who apply year after year. It's a testament to the vision of the Council board and the hard work and dedication of the co-chairs, who reinvent the experience every year. The program simply continues to build on its impact and success. That's not surprising, given the leadership involved, but it is very gratifying to see.

NMN: Who is the ideal candidate to be a Council Fellow?

Hayley: Council Fellows is a competitive program with well-defined criteria for consideration. Those criteria are:

  • Currently a C-suite or senior leader in their organization or poised to take on such a pivotal role.
  • Eager to define complex problems, identify solutions and effect change.
  • Open to learning more about and embracing innovation in healthcare.
  • Part of a healthcare organization of any size in multiple sectors, including providers, managed care, technology, public health, government, academia, nonprofit, policy or finance among others.
  • Endorsed by two industry leaders (through two letters of reference) and their CEO.
  • Able to commit to the 2020 Council Fellows class dates for class time.
  • Company based anywhere in the United States.

Additionally, Council Fellows candidates have common characteristics. They're passionate. They have a huge heart for healthcare. And are dissatisfied with the status quo and driven enough to lead the creation of value and effect change. This is what the Council Fellows program is about and who the Council Fellows program is for.

NMN: What is the general procedure to apply to be a 2020 Council Fellow?

Hayley: Applying to be a Fellow begins with connecting with your professional network for letters of reference and visiting the Council Fellows website to access the program application. The Council will accept applications for the 2020 Council Fellows class from September 9 through October 22, 2019.

The application requests a bio, a statement of what a candidate hopes to gain from the program, and a description of the candidate's perspective on a single challenge the candidate believes is critical to solve to transform the healthcare industry.

The application for the 2020 Fellows Class can be accessed at

NMN: Any changes or new programming for the upcoming year?

Hayley: Every year the Council and co-chairs work together to create curriculum for the class that directly addresses the topics and trends healthcare leaders need to be prepared for. This year, we're devoting classes to innovation and problem solving, state and federal policy reform, population health management, integrated delivery networks, applications for data and analytics, consumerism and more.

Fellows classes continue to be highly interactive and deeply engaging. One of our biggest learnings has been the value of immersions -- everything from a day spent in the hospital to a poverty simulation that put Fellows into the shoes of the populations they serve.

NMN: An alumni component was added several years ago. Why was that important?

Hayley: The Fellows program has grown over the course of seven classes into a national program it is today. More than 20 percent of participants come from healthcare organizations outside of Middle Tennessee. What pleases me most is seeing the relationships the program has created -- they extend beyond Fellows class years, beyond state lines and through the many subsectors of the country's healthcare industry.

Any professional who becomes a Council Fellow is immediately connected to a distinguished network of leading healthcare innovators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders. The Council Fellows Alumni Association builds on the momentum created in the classroom by providing opportunities to continue conversations and collaborations beyond graduation. In addition to the organic connections alumni make, the Council facilitates alumni activity with regular network news updates to and annual networking events for the Alumni Association.

NMN: Any final reflections on what makes Council Fellows unique?

Hayley: Having been the Fellows director and now the president of the Nashville Health Care Council, I have continued to be impressed by the Fellows themselves. Each year we bring in a group of disparate executives with varied backgrounds and experiences. By the end of six months, they're collaborating and working to make healthcare better in new and exciting ways.

At the end of the day, we are very fortunate that healthcare, which is so important to Nashville and to each of us personally, is run by such intelligent, compassionate people.

Council Fellows 2020

Go to for more detailed information and to apply.


Council Fellows

Nashville Health Care Council


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Bill Frist, Council Fellows, Hayley Hovious, Healthcare Industry Leadership, Larry Van Horn  , Nashville Health Care Council
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