Board Spotlight 2023-2024

Gayla Smith — President

What made you run for a board position?

I had always wanted to be on the board but was afraid.  Afraid of what I didn’t know.  I was at one of our annual state meetings and during the annual business meeting one of the board members was asking for people to volunteer.  She talked about all of the benefits of being on the board which included optimal educational, networking, resources, and leadership opportunities for members.  She talked about the AHIMA conferences she was able to attend that had fantastic educational opportunities as well as networking with the National board members.  Other great benefits include free or reduced fees to the annual meeting as well as the AHIMA National Conferences.  I was going nowhere in the small town hospital where I worked so getting a position on the board would connect me with peers and colleagues, expose me to new ideas, and provide me with meaningful ways to connect with Iowa’s health information community as well as the national board of directors.  I felt it would be impressive to join a board of directors–it would look good on my resume.  I also felt it was a chance to help our association.  I have gained so much from our association and I wanted to help keep it going.  She encouraged members to serve at the level they felt comfortable and there were a lot of opportunities from helping at the registration table, serving on a committee, and eventually the president, which at that time I felt would never happen, but it did!  I ran for a position and got it!  I am forever grateful for the opportunity!  So anyone just starting out or seasoned professionals that have been in the field a very long time, I encourage you to run for a position.  I think you will gain from the experience no matter where you are in your career or professional journey.

What is something you like about being on the board?

One of the things I like most about being on the board is the networking. It provided me with an incredible opportunity to meet influential, intelligent and well-connected people. I got to know the other board members and feel like some of them are my friends for life now.  I also enjoy learning and being on the board enabled me to strengthen a variety of professional skills, which are highly beneficial for career advancement.   Being a board member gave me a lot of personal and professional fulfillment.  Having a great Board of Directors is like Grace Whiting Myers stated in her President’s Address at the First annual session in Chicago in 1929, “The group brings together all the excellence of many individuals, raises it to a high plane, and give it a large outlook embracing great possibilities.”

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

I didn’t know that AHIMA had a House of Delegates made up of members from each state that advocate and support healthcare transformation, public policy, and participate in national policy and initiatives.  Members go to Washington DC every year with representatives from each state to meet with federal legislators concerning key legislative initiatives impacting the health information profession or the collection and use of health information.  I had never been to  “Capitol Hill Day” until I got a position on the IaHIMA board.  I have been fortunate enough to go several times to Washington D.C. with our very own Legislative Liaison, Carrie Arens and have attended educational sessions with Lauren Riplinger, JD.  Lauren currently serves as AHIMA’s Chief Public Policy and Impact Officer and provides strategic and operational oversight over AHIMA’s advocacy and programmatic strategy to demonstrate mission impact.  After several webinars and a day with Lauren learning about the current issues affecting our profession, our interests and needs of health information professionals, AHIMA leads us to the “Hill” where we meet with congressmen of our state to advocate.  I think I have enjoyed this more than any of the many things I have done and learned by being on the Board!

Andrea Greathouse — President-Elect

What made you run for a board position?

I ran for the board to increase my knowledge and expand my network as part of my career goals. I started as a First Year Director and am now the President-Elect.

What is something you like about being on the board?

One of the best things about being on the board is the friendships I have made, as well as the professional opportunities being on the board has provided me. Networking with other health information professionals and vendors has been incredibly insightful to the changing landscape of our profession. I love new and emerging technologies and job skills. The board has allowed me an opportunity to investigate and learn more about them.

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

There are all sorts of opportunities to get involved at the state and national level. I got the courage to apply for a Practice Council position in 2022 and was appointed to the CDI Practice Council for this year. It has allowed me an even greater reach for my passions and to work on important documents that will be used across the US. There are so many short-time-commitment opportunities to volunteer within the state for committees or events as well for Nationals. Adding these to your resume can be beneficial for you and can network you into other opportunities.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

If you haven’t already, create a profile on LinkedIn and start networking. Build your tribe of reliable HIM professionals that you can ask questions to when you are stuck on a coding problem or documentation question, anything! Sometimes it is just nice to have your own cheering section! Look me up, I’ll be waiting!

Abbi Telford — Secretary

What made you run for a board position?

Being fairly new to Iowa, I have always strived to join in on things to help me meet new people and network! At first I was hesitant as this was way out of my comfort zone, with it not being a local thing, but I jumped in with both feet and haven’t looked back since!

What is something you like about being on the board?

I joined the IaHIMA board in 2018 and since then I have learned so much about the Health Information profession. Being apart of the board also has allowed me to do some traveling that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do! Being able to attend the AHIMA Conference & being a Delegate for Iowa really has been a highlight for me!

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

AHIMA – After attending the AHIMA Conference and the AHIMA House of Delegates I realized just how impactful our profession can be! There truly is a void in health information literacy between the facility and the patients and if I can help to make just the smallest difference in someone being able to understand or navigate their healthcare journey, that’s a win for me!

IaHIMA – Getting the opportunity to network with others in the same profession within our state gives us all such a huge resource to help us learn and grow! It can be so impactful! I would highly recommend if you are looking for an opportunity like what I talked about, please reach out to a board member and we would love to chat with you about our organization!

Sarah Cottington — Treasurer

What made you run for a board position?

To be better connected with the Health Information professionals in Iowa.

What is something you like about being on the board?

Connecting with people professionally, but also personally, and making lasting friendships with wonderful people that I would not have met except through the Iowa Health Information Management Association and specifically the IaHIMA Board of Directors.

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

There are hundreds of pieces of information I have learned since becoming an IaHIMA Board member and serving on an AHIMA Practice Council. There are many pieces of healthcare and health information regulatory and legislative code that I have learned through being a part of IaHIMA and AHIMA.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I guarantee you will grow and benefit professionally, but also personally from volunteering and becoming more involved within our profession and community.

Stacy Oakland — 2nd Year Director

What made you run for a board position?

I wanted to learn more about our Annual Meeting and the planning that goes into it.  I wanted to be a part of creating a value-added meeting for our members.

What is something you like about being on the board?

Being a part of the Board is a great way to network with members from other organizations.  I have learned so much from each and every one of them.

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

I have never been involved in planning an event like our Annual meeting before so it has been a learning experience about how much time and effort is put into ensuring we have a great meeting for our members!

Sally Christiansen — 1st Year Director

What made you run for a board position?

Since my kids are now adults, it has afforded me extra time in my schedule. Over the years, I could not participate in my state, CA, due to family obligations, so now is an excellent time to expand my horizons. Give back and help others who have helped me in my HIM career.

What is something you like about being on the board?

I appreciate that we all come from diverse backgrounds, yet we all have the same goal! Being on the board has dramatically opened my eyes to how AHIMA operates. It provides me with a greater understanding of HIM professionals’ current issues or concerns, yet it also provides a voice for AHIMA members in our state of Iowa.

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

One interesting fact I learned about AHIMA was how it operates.  It has opened my eyes to the importance of staying in the know and advocating for realistic expectations.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I appreciate the opportunity to serve on this year’s IaHIMA board. I look forward to seeing you all at our Annual Meeting in April 2024. Our board is super excited to bring some national speakers who will provide education on various topics that our CA members have requested. Check out the IaHIMA website for more information.

Beth Kosman — Coding Roundtable Coordinator

What made you run for a board position?

While listening to a virtual presentation through IaHIMA it made me motivated to volunteer and I knew I had something to offer – but was nervous about what it all entailed.  Without ever being on a board or anything ‘official’ I like to research, connect with others and figure things out. I’m not always right, which is fine as coding can be such a gray area with the guidelines but we are all in the same boat. The coding roundtable was a great step as it consisted of 3 of us so we can bounce ideas off of each other and figure things out. This seemed like a good step to join and participate and see how things are handled in the board and what it consists of.

What is something you like about being on the board?

I like making connections and meeting new people. Getting together with everyone, hearing their stories and struggles with denials, working with providers, etc. – they are the same as everyone else and also different which is interesting. Being on the board gives me a feeling of contributing with others to discuss how we can help other HIM professionals. The board members are always fun, love to share their experiences, genuine and love their positions on the board and their roles within the HIM community.

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

Since I joined I’ve learned that our IaHIMA group really wants to make a difference to their members. It takes a village to make it successful and being on the board helps make those connections so you simply end up learning and contributing more in your actual career.  What

we all do in HIM makes such a difference to patients from the simple release of information to ensuring our coding accuracy is top-notch to get the payers to process payments timely without any denials. Talking and connecting with others who have the same passion for HIM, and the same struggles is a good feeling knowing what we do makes a difference.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Joining the board ensures your ideas, suggestions and thoughts are brought forth so we can get the most out of state meetings or other meetings/educational opportunities that can be offered. Does it take up some time – yes  of course it does but take that step and you will be amazed at what you learn and the connections you will make with the IaHIMA community.

Meira Osness — Coding Roundtable Coordinator

What made you run for a board position?

I wanted to make connections with other HIM professionals and gain knowledge about the profession.

What is something you like about being on the board?

I enjoy being part of an organization dedicated to helping other HIM professionals.

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

I learned that everyone can contribute to the success of the organization.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I joined IaHIMA shortly after graduation from NICC. I’ve learned a lot from everyone and am glad I joined the board early on in my career. I think everyone can be a good board member, regardless of where they are in their career.

Carrie Franzen — Nominating Committee 2nd Year—Chair

What made you run for a board position?

I was encouraged to run for a position by my manager. She thought it would be a great way for me to get to know other professionals from throughout the state.  I also get to be involved and up to date with what is happening on the healthcare scene.

What is something you like about being on the board?

What I like best about being on the board is the chance to meet and interact with other healthcare professionals. I have really enjoyed being able to be part of the process of getting new members interested in board and committee member positions. Fellow board members have been helpful when I was unsure of what my next step would be, that support was a great feeling!

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

Something I have learned since joining as a committee member is finding out we send delegates to the national meeting. I found it exciting to know Iowa has a vote in what is going on at the national level. I have enjoyed getting to understand the roles of each member a little better. It has been exciting getting our state meeting back and in person!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would encourage anyone who has the slightest interest to take a chance and run for a position when the call for nominations goes out!

Carmen Grawe — Nominating Committee 1st Year

What made you run for a board position?

My boys have grown up with our youngest son graduating high school in 2024.  I volunteered a lot during their school years and enjoyed the social and teaming interaction with others; when Stacy Oakland (IaHIMA 2nd Year Director) asked me if I’d ever consider a board position and encouraged me to give it a try I thought “Why not.”  I also think it’s a great opportunity to get involved in the HIM community as far as networking and want to make better connections and relationships. 

What is something you like about being on the board?

This is my first position on the board, what I’m liking so far is getting to know others’ that I would not have gotten to know with just attending the State Meetings.

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

Members from our board attend the National meeting. 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I was worried about adding another thing to my life but I’m honestly happy I chose to give this a shot.  If you want to look at a board position that will gradually get your feet wet, the Nominating Committee is that position for you!

Carrie Arens — Advocacy/Legislative Liaison

What is something you like about being on the board?

When I first moved to Iowa, District A was very active, and I was nominated to run for a position within the District A Board.  When I was the President of District A, I attended some of the IaHIMA Board Meetings and from there I decided it would benefit my facility and my personal growth if I ran for an IaHIMA Board position.  I have enjoyed being on the IaHIMA Board and have held multiple positions including President, Treasurer and Legislative Liaison.  Being on the Board is a great way to network with your peers and helps keep you up to date on things happening within our industry!

What is something you have learned about IaHIMA or AHIMA since becoming a board member?

Since being a Board Member I have learned many things about AHIMA and how that organization is structured and works, as well as our national government and what it takes to get legislation passed.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would encourage members to run for the Board as I have made multiple great friendships over the years and you are always learning something new.