Student Spotlight

Heather Cloward: Brandman triple threat, hospital COO

Heather Bloward

Heather Cloward earned a BAOL, BBA and MBA from Brandman,

If you asked Heather Cloward three years ago if she thought she would be a Chief Operations Officer of a hospital she would’ve answered with a resounding “no.” After eight years in the legal field, the three-time Brandman graduate, fortuitously landed a human resources job at Banner Health, a large nonprofit health system.  Cloward quickly ascended the ranks from HR coordinator to HR manager within three years. Cloward wasn’t looking for a new job, then a mentor encouraged her to meet with the CEO of Melissa Memorial Hospital, a level three trauma center, in rural Holyoke, Colorado. She accepted the opportunity to connect and was soon courted into taking an operations job at the hospital. 

In September 2016, Cloward was promoted to chief operations officer at Melissa Memorial Hospital where she oversees five departments, including human resources, the specialty clinic, the family clinic, emergency management services (EMS) and optical.  She is also responsible for emergency preparedness, safety and compliance. 

Cloward attributes her career success to the lessons learned while studying at Brandman University. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership in 2010, Bachelor of Business Administration- HR in 2014 and a Masters of Business Administration in Human Resources in 2016. 

How did going back to school help you/your career?

It gave me the confidence and created the value that I think I needed to push myself into my career path. 

Who inspired you while attending Brandman? 

Michael Krauss, a professor I had during my BAOL program, inspired me at the beginning of my degree program.  He was very knowledgeable about work and life.

During the middle of my program my mentors at Banner Health were most inspiring to me (Tony Blake, vice president of Human Resources, and Cyndi Eklund, CHRO). They kept pushing me toward my goal and encouraging me to get outside my comfort zone. 

What advice would you give someone going back to school as an adult? 

Fight the fight because it is worth it in the end. 

Did anything surprise you about Brandman University? 

How easy it was to go back to school. There was always someone there to answer questions whether it be my academic advisor, professors or the admissions department. Everyone was so willing to help me and get me what I needed from Blackboard, financial aid, etc.  I felt supported every step of the way. 

Also, I really enjoyed the blended class format. I really enjoyed the face-to-face interaction with my classmates. When I left the Victorville campus to move out of state to Colorado I lost the collaborative nature of class that I really liked. Actually, I have experienced all class structures at Brandman. All on campus, blended (hybrid) and most recently fully online. 

What would you have done differently? 

I would have networked better and found a way to stay connected to my classmates beyond LinkedIn. 

What motivated you while going back to school?

I am a type-A personality, a driver. I always knew that I wanted to do great things. One of the best ways to that is to get an education which sets a great foundation for the future. 

I attribute a lot of my success and career path to my husband, Jason. He is a major driving force for my motivation. Without his support I would not have been able to achieve what I have. He was always pushing me to complete my schoolwork, he was constantly encouraging me  and supporting me and our four boys - Jason Jr., 15, Wyatt, 6, Brayden, 4 and Colton, 2. He is my rock.

Brandman has given me the confidence to pursue additional certification in my field to continue learning and achieving. Currently, I am an American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE) Fellow with the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), which is the most prestigious professional designation in the medical practice management community. I am also a Special District Association of Colorado fellow. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to take on these roles simultaneously if it weren’t for Brandman. 

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