By DENISE FLEISCHER
Karen L. Hackett has served as CEO of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in Rosemont since August 2003. On April 14, she will retire.
Prior to joining the academy, Hackett held the position of executive vice president and chief operating officer of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) from 1995 to 2003. She has also been vice president for the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, and has previous healthcare provider and consulting experience. Hackett is board certified in healthcare management and a Fellow of ACHE. She was the 2010-2011 chairman of ASAE. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Lewis University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida.
It was the good care that physicians, nurses and other members of healthcare provided her disabled brother, that inspired her to become a healthcare executive.
“I never had an interest in being a clinician and providing hands-on patient care, but I found other ways to be involved,” Hackett told the Journal. “I found my first job in a hospital as I needed to work my way through college and a hospital provided working hours that allowed me to pursue an education.”
After working in several hospitals, she navigated toward the healthcare association field. This led to the academy where she found great satisfaction helping orthopaedic surgeons through AAOS. As the chief staff officer her responsibilities have been to report to the board of directors which sets the policy and strategic direction for the AAOS. She has seen to it that the staff implements the policy and develops the programs, products, and services that serve AAOS members.
During her time in the CEO seat, everyone has focused on serving the academy’s members with the fundamental goal being “improving care for orthopaedic patients.”
“We continue to add educational programs to meet that goal,” she explained. “We also offer skills courses in the Orthopaedic Learning Center in our building, which helps to keep our members current on the latest surgical techniques.”
Asked why the academy is so important to the professionals it serves, Hackett replied, “The academy strives to be the source of lifelong learning opportunity for our members. We serve all orthopaedic surgeons no matter what their orthopaedic speciality. We also advocate, primarily through our Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C., on behalf of our members and the patients they serve.”
The academy is also an important asset to Rosemont by providing a state-of-the-art educational facility which is recognized nationally by those in the orthopaedic field. It’s location close to O’Hare Airport makes it convenient for academy members to fly in for meetings or courses. The academy moved to 6300 N. River Rd. in Rosemont in 1993 and built a new 180,000-square-foot building at 9400 W. Higgins Rd. Approximately 350 employees are in the building, nearly 220 are academy staff, while the others are employed by the academy’s building partners or their building tenants. All serve the orthopaedic community.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Mayor Brad Stephens for his support in helping us secure the location for the new building,” said Hackett. “He has and continues to make us feel like an important part of the Rosemont community.”
With retirement just around the corner, Hackett has already etched out a few plans. She’s planning to travel for six months.
“I am going to spend a week at a spa and then traveling on a 10-day cruise with my family,” she said. “Then I will work on renovating a house in New Hampshire. After that I need to figure out what else I want to do in retirement.”
Assuming the CEO chair is Thomas E. Arend, Jr., CAE, who is from the American College of Cardiology in Washington, D.C. As CEO, Arend will work directly with the AAOS Board of Directors and executive management team to oversee a staff of over 200 and manage an annual budget of $60 million, according to a academy press release.
“He has a great background and experience to lead the AAOS,” said Hackett. “The Academy will be in good hands with him as the new CEO.”