Over the last 30 years, Lori Straube’s career has taken her into roles where she specialized in hospital finance or got the chance to engage directly with doctors in the coordination of physician practices and compensation.
Now, she says she has landed what she believes is her “ideal job” as the medical school’s new associate dean for Administration and Finance.
“It felt like a really good fit,” said Straube, 54, whose first day on the job at WMed was Monday, February 13. “It’s going to draw on all of the aspects of my prior work experience … It kind of wrapped it all up.”
Straube is replacing Tom Zavitz who retired from the medical school on February 17.
Straube, a Toledo, Ohio native, is joining the senior leadership team at WMed following a three-year stint at the University of Chicago Physicians Group (UCPG) where she served as director of Physician Financial Services and, more recently, as executive director of Physician Services.
During her career, Straube has amassed experience as an academic practice and medical center executive and a track record of improving the operational and financial functions of complex academic organizations. At the medical school, she will serve as the organization’s compliance officer and will oversee a team of administrative directors for several areas within the medical school, including accounting and finance, facilities management, human resources and technology, among others.
For the last 21 years, Straube, her husband, Werner, and their daughter, Adriane, have called the Chicago area home. As executive director of Physician Services at UCPG, Straube led and directed a staff of 85 people for an operation that had annual revenue of more than $150 million.
Prior to her work at UCPG, she spent four years at Loyola University Medical Center where she served as finance director for the Department of Medicine and, later, as director of Physician Compensation and Financial Operations.
Straube said she is excited about her new role at WMed and she and her family are looking forward to calling Kalamazoo home. She said the move means they’ll be closer to their extended family in Ohio and they are very familiar with Michigan given that she and her husband are avid skiers who have taken to the slopes in Boyne on previous occasions.
“When this opportunity came up and I read the job description, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this sounds like my ideal job,” Straube said. “This is a lovely community and everyone here is so nice … Everybody’s just been so welcoming and kind.”
Straube is a graduate of the University of Toledo where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business services in 1988. Later, in 1994, she earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University.
She said that it was during her time in college that her interest in finance and her future career path began to take shape. She said she worked her way through college as a clerk in the departments of Respiratory Therapy and Medical Records at The Toledo Hospital, second-shift work that allowed her to take classes during the day.
Straube said she has always been good at math and her supervisors at the hospital encouraged her to finish her education with the promise that she would have a job waiting for her on the professional staff. The opportunity opened the door to Straube’s career in finance.
As she begins settling in at WMed, Straube said she believes her prior experience working with physicians will be an asset in building relationships with the medical school’s other associate deans and Founding Dean Hal B. Jenson, MD, as well as leaders at Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare.
She said her short-term to-do list includes meetings with each director under her supervision so that she can gain an understanding of the organizational structure of each department “and how I can help them achieve their goals.”
“Ultimately, for the people who report to you, their success is your success and I want to see them be successful,” she said. “I think WMed is going to keep me very engaged … I’ve always felt that if you’re in finance, you’re in a support role to help the operational areas and support their goals.”