Spencer Kowal has joined the Akron Children’s leadership team as the hospital’s new chief financial officer (CFO) and treasurer. In this role, Spencer oversees budgeting and long-range forecasting for the hospital. He is responsible for the vision, protection and use of funds as a strategic asset for the hospital and will assist leadership in making sound financial decisions.
Most recently he served at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as vice president of financial strategy. Spencer earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Denison University and a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health.
Spencer says Akron Children’s storied history, humble beginnings and continued success are some of the things that attracted him to the job.
“I want to find ways for my team to collaborate with all leaders of this organization, uncover the right insights to make informed decisions and support and drive the continued growth of this top-ranked pediatric hospital,” he said.
Tell us a little about your new role?
Many of my responsibilities center on the financial operations which includes the areas of accounting, revenue cycle, supply chain, managed care, financial planning and analytics. Through these functions I aspire to be a strategic financial advisor to Grace Wakulchik (president and CEO) and the entire executive team on an all matters related to finance. I will also engage with and inform the finance, audit and investment committees of the board and the board of directors on financial issues and trends.
What are you looking forward to and what do you think some of the challenges will be?
The strategy of this organization is very clear and has been executed extremely well with its 2 hospital campuses, a growing number of health centers and 50+ primary, specialty and urgent care locations. Akron Children’s has also extended its neonatal and pediatric expertise by collaborating with many community health care partners, providing Home Care services and through its extensive school health program. These strategies are foundational to Akron Children’s ability to lead in serving the children in Ohio and beyond. At the same time, Akron Children’s has been equally successful establishing an environment of continuous performance excellence and operational improvement that I like to call Financial Stewardship.
All of these accomplishments help to mitigate the risks of lower reimbursement from governmental and commercial insurers. Over half of the payments for our services are from governmental sources. The reimbursement model in health care (governmental and commercial insurers) continues to evolve and introduces risk for all health-care providers. I hope to help navigate these reimbursement challenges and prepare us for new reimbursement models like population health.
Tell us about your family?
My wife, Randi, and I are blessed with 5 beautiful daughters: Samantha (21), Karli (17), Avery (15), Hayden (6) and Dylan (3). Samantha will be a senior at the University of Illinois. The rest of our family is in the process of moving to Hudson. Karli is an avid theater performer, Avery has a passion for Crew, and Hayden and Dylan love doing puzzles and playing Candyland with their dad. My family has a very personal connection to pediatric care. Karli is a Neuroblastoma survivor and is in complete remission thanks to the wonderful care she received at Lurie Children’s. I feel fortunate to be working at another great children’s hospital.
What hobby would you pursue if time and money weren’t an issue?
Sailing. I grew up near Lake Michigan, and my father took me sailing as a kid. What fun it would be to explore the world through sailing.
How do you relax?
I like to spend one-on-one time with my daughters. I also like to road bike which helps to clear my mind and recharge.
Favorite place or most interesting place you’ve traveled?
I think the most beautiful place I have ever traveled to was Positano, Italy. It is a beautiful cliff-side village on southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast. The most fascinating, and perhaps peculiar place I have visited, was the Wieliczka Salt Mines near Krakow, Poland. These mines actually include 4 chapels and an underground lake.
What was your first paying job? What are some lessons you took from it?
I volunteered as a freshman in high school in a hospital emergency room after school. I was responsible for stocking the ED rooms between patients. The nursing team took me under its wings and showed me the ropes. I think this job may have influenced my ultimate decision to work in health care.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I am a big University of North Carolina Tarheels basketball fan and each year I attend at least one game in person. My wife puts up with my obsession and actually goes with me.