Kimberly Boynton ’13 MBA: Hospital CEO Never Imagined Leading Through a Pandemic
When Kimberly Boynton ’13 MBA was studying at the Whitman School, she never imagined that a few years later she would be using some of the skills she acquired to lead one of Central New York’s leading hospitals through the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.
“Going through a pandemic is not something you think you will ever have on your resume,” says Boynton, who currently is the president and CEO of Crouse Health, a 500-bed private, nonprofit hospital adjacent to the Syracuse University campus.
Going through a pandemic is not something you think you will ever have on your resume.”
Kimberly Boynton ’13 MBA
She takes great pride in Crouse Health’s strong foundations and credits the mission and vision woven into the workplace culture for helping the hospital and its employees serve the Central New York community during some of its most difficult days.
“Health care is always undergoing a significant amount of change, even in normal times,” she says. “But, throughout the pandemic, we’ve been forced to make decision and policy changes related to patients, visitors and employees multiple times — sometimes even on the same day.”
“It’s been a whirlwind, and it has caused us all an extreme amount of stress, but I know we’ve done everything we can to protect our employees and patients, while still providing the best health care possible to our community,” adds Boynton. One of the difficult changes for Boynton speaks directly to her leadership style. She had to move her desk into an office space in order to properly social distance — something that was completely counterintuitive to her usual way of working out in the open in the administrative suite.
“I have always liked to be out where employees and physicians can see me and know that I’m there anytime they need me,” she says. “It’s part of the Crouse culture of open, honest communication. However, when the pandemic struck, I had to move into an office, my assistant started working from home, and the rest of the administration team had to be separated as a precaution.”
Despite the unusual working conditions, Crouse has managed to thrive. Boynton explains, “Our physicians and our nurses have just been phenomenal, and it’s been rewarding to see how all of our employees have reacted, adapted and worked together to serve patients, not only in Syracuse but throughout the entire Central New York region. Our employees had trust in us that we were doing everything we could do. Everyone pulled together, and we really haven’t missed a beat.”
While the COVID-19 virus still looms across the U.S., Crouse Health resumed elective surgeries and procedures that had been canceled during the height of the pandemic and brought back furloughed employees. But it hasn’t been easy.
“The pandemic has been a financial strain that has thrown all of our 2020 predictions out the window,” she says. “The hospital has spent $3 million on personal protective equipment alone, and forecasting has become something completely new. When you go through something like this, you find that you need to handle things differently — and even prepare for it to reoccur. You just don’t have all the answers when you’ve never had anything like this happen before.”
While Boynton may not have all the answers, she does have the experience. Not only is she president and CEO of Crouse Health, but she was previously the hospital’s chief financial officer, which has given her greater insight into the financial impact of the pandemic. It was while she was working as the hospital’s CFO, in fact, that she decided to pursue her MBA at the Whitman School.
“One of the members of the Crouse board at the time was Melvin Stith ’73 MBA, ’78 Ph.D., who was then the dean of the Whitman School,” she explains. “He was the one who encouraged me to go back to school — to what was then called the iMBA program because it was taught primarily online. It was a great decision for me, as I had the opportunity to not only interact with students working in different industries all over the U.S. but also with outstanding professors who generously shared their talents and experiences with their students.”
Boynton appreciated the encouragement she received from the Whitman School, not only as she continued to work while earning her MBA, but also as she started a family.
“It took me a while to complete my degree,” she says. “At the end of my first semester, I had my son, Henry, but it was my goal to complete the program before he went to pre-K — and I did it. It might not have happened without the support I received at every level throughout my MBA program.”
In appreciation for that support, Boynton enthusiastically gives of her time and talents at the Whitman School and throughout the entire University community. Most recently, she participated on a panel at the Whitman School with other female business leaders, and she frequently speaks on campus and participates in University and alumni events.
I love being back on campus, and I try never to say ‘no’ when asked. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned and experienced, and I really enjoy the academic environment.
Kimberly Boynton ’13 MBA
“I love being back on campus, and I try never to say ‘no’ when asked. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned and experienced, and I really enjoy the academic environment,” says Boynton, noting that one day she might like to add teaching at the Whitman School to her list of accomplishments.
“I’m grateful that Syracuse University is a neighbor and partner to Crouse Health,” she says. “This has certainly been a difficult year, but there is also so much to be proud of. It’s a privilege to lead the team at Crouse Health during these unprecedented times.”