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Women's History Month Spotlight: VU Trustee and Healthcare Administrator Kelly Clauss

Kelly Clauss headshot

March 14, 2024

VINCENNES UNIVERSITY IS CELEBRATING WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH BY HIGHLIGHTING THE EXCEPTIONAL WOMEN WHO CONTRIBUTE TO OUR UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY. THESE INSPIRING LEADERS INCLUDE TRAILBLAZING EDUCATORS AND VISIONARY ADMINISTRATORS WHO MOTIVATE US TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER, RISE TOGETHER, AND CREATE A FUTURE WHERE EVERY INDIVIDUAL'S POTENTIAL IS REALIZED. THROUGH THIS SERIES, WE HONOR AND RECOGNIZE THE STRENGTH, ACHIEVEMENTS, AND SERVICE OF VU'S WOMEN LEADERS. TOGETHER, WE STRIVE TO FOSTER A CULTURE OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND INSPIRATION.

Vincennes University Trustee Kelly Clauss is a former VU basketball player, who is now a trailblazer in the healthcare world. With a background deeply rooted in social work, she has more than two decades of leadership experience and she's the Vice President of Medical Practice Management at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Indiana. Clauss was one of six honored in 2021 with a Dubois County Athena Award which recognizes the achievements of women in life and service to the community. Clauss has a passion for helping others and has held various roles throughout her career which have shaped her both personally and professionally as a female leader. Her dedication to improving healthcare delivery and her unwavering commitment to compassionate leadership make her an invaluable asset to many.

You played basketball for the VU Trailblazers for the 1984-85 season. What are your thoughts on the role of sport - historically, currently, and in the future - for women?

“I was very blessed to get to play one year for the Lady Trailblazers. Vincennes University really supported women’s sports even back then and did so in the context of us being student-athletes, not just athletes. Student-athletes at VU were expected to be model students, people on whom there were many expectations, all of which were intended to make us the best version of ourselves. The faculty and staff were very supportive of student-athletes, whether that be working with us on class schedules so that we could meet our obligations to the sports team, or whether that meant providing us extra support to get our classroom work done with excellence. This made me proud to be a VU student-athlete; it was a privilege I did not take lightly. I have also been proud to watch over the last several years how women’s collegiate sports have continued to grow and become more and more of a platform for growth and opportunity. Many young women today have the opportunity to participate in their sport during the regular season, during the off-season, and oftentimes even abroad. While these opportunities may seem to be about the sport, that’s only part of the story. The real story is about the life opportunity it gives to these young women. And these are often opportunities to help build these women into strong, confident, poised, and determined women. It lends itself well to helping to build true leadership qualities for these women, on and off the court. All of this translates to successful life skills, as well as preparing these women to have a “pay it forward” mentality.”

Tell us about your current role as the Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center’s Vice President of Medical Practice Management and what you enjoy about it.

“I have responsibility for Memorial’s employed provider network of Physicians and Advanced Practice Providers. I also have VP responsibility for several of Memorial’s ambulatory services including, Lange-Fuhs Cancer Center, Pharmacy, Medication Resource Center, Cardiology, and Rehabilitation services. The thing I enjoy about this role is the people aspect of it. First and foremost, I am blessed by having a terrific team of leaders with whom I get to work every day. These are people are very talented servant leaders and who dedicate themselves in a tireless way. They truly live out Memorial’s Mission every single day! I also enjoy the challenges of healthcare (on most days, anyway!) which require us to be creative, innovative, and very adaptable to change. And while some days can be more challenging than others, it is important to never forget that there is a patient and or a family who is expecting and who deserves your best, no matter what. It is truly a privilege to serve in this manner.”

Share with us a woman who has inspired you in your life/career.

“Hands down, it is my mother, Joyce Lane. She is the strongest, most resilient, wisdom-filled person I know. She’s always been my No. 1 fan while also being the No. 1 person to challenge me if she thought I was not being the best version of myself. She truly is a woman who takes lemons and makes lemonade and I have had the privilege of witnessing this over and over in the last 58 years of my life. She has taught me so many things in life, all of which I have been able to translate into my personal and professional life. I feel blessed beyond measure to have her as my mother; she is my hero for sure. In addition to my mother, I have also been blessed in a relentless way, throughout my career to work with so many incredibly strong, talented, and bright women. Each of whom has taught me different lessons, and all of whom helped me to grow and develop. All too often women get too easily threatened by other women and that is an unfortunate, crippling mistake we women make all too often. We need not view other women as our competitors, but rather as our mentors, our role models, and our colleagues. Being vulnerable as a women leader does not make you weaker, in fact, it is quite the opposite.”

How do you strive to set an example for the next generation of women leaders?

“Giving back and paying forward are very important concepts for women to understand. We’ve all been at the “beginning” of something which can leave us feeling uncertain, anxious, and maybe even incompetent. Being willing to ask for help and more importantly, being willing to receive help are so important for all leaders, including women leaders. Also, over time, I have come to cherish the concept of vulnerability and how empowering and effective it truly is in terms of growing as a leader. There is an openness and attractiveness with vulnerability, it is inviting to others. Lastly, I have really tried to focus more on becoming a servant leader which allows one to embrace others more readily, and more open-heartedly. I find that this approach, especially for women leaders offers an openness to one another, to new ways and ideas and most importantly to sync with our respective divine purpose. That kind of alignment makes it right for me, it solidifies my purpose and that is important to me.” 

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

“It’s an important celebration and acknowledgement for so many reasons, not the least of which is to honor women who have gone before us and paved the way down pathways that were arduous and difficult. It is an acknowledgement that women play an incredibly important role in society, in our families, in our workplaces, on the playing field, at the negotiating table, and at our places of worship. It is also an acknowledgement that our work is not done in spite of the many ways in which women are offered more equal rights today than ever before in the history of our time. So, we must continue to honor and support one another, we must continue to lift up each other, and we must continue to work collaboratively, not competitively.”

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