Senior Partner / Groundswell Health

Lance Lunsford is an experienced health care executive with notable roles in hospital communications and marketing as well as a long history in health care advocacy and public policy.

His work includes building teams, dismantling silos, and integrating organizations around purpose and passion to drive employee satisfaction and output.

Lance Lunsford began his career in journalism where he became a published author. Today, he does work in media relations on healthcare’s most difficult issues as well as marketing strategies around public affairs and campaign engagement needs as well as service line volume enhancement. His company, Groundswell Health is based in Austin, and designed a custom communication system to assist over-committed health care communication teams.

Lunsford serves a variety of organizations including one of the largest state hospital associations in the country. His company’s work also includes large hospital systems and rural hospitals, providing services on advocacy initiatives as well as patient volume strategies. Groundswell Health also specializes in marketing for health care B2B enterprises, helping shrink the sales cycle and appeal to hospital buying groups.

Incoming President


Executive Vice President / Market Operations HNI Healthcare Inc.

Debbie is senior level operations leader for HNI Healthcare’s national Hospital medicine, ER and Post-Acute programs.  As the Executive Vice President for Operations, she is responsible for the people, process and quality on how we transform healthcare in various settings to provide the best outcome to our patients and clients.

Debbie has been in Healthcare Operations over 25 years where she worked for HCA starting both a Hospitalist and Behavioral Health program as well as a SNF Administrator for HCR Manorcare in Jacksonville, FL. She has a passion for moving quality outcomes across the continuum of care.

She completed a Business Management degree at Middlesex Community College in Connecticut and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology as well as a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from University of North Florida.

Debbie moved to Austin, TX in March of 2020 and enjoys being outdoors and live music that Austin has to offer.  In her spare time, she loves yoga and has volunteered to administer and develop a support group for families who lost their loved ones to lung cancer and helps local charities in Austin Tx.


Ollieta Nicholas, MBA

Senior Director of Operations and Strategy - UT Dell Medical School’s Department of Internal Medicine

Ollieta Nicholas became the senior director of operations and strategy for the UT Dell Medical School’s Department of Internal Medicine in June 2020. She is the senior-level operations and strategy leader for 11 divisions with faculty and mid-level providers deployed across the Austin area within hospitals and clinics. 

Ollieta has been in health care management for over 17 years, where she worked for MD Anderson Cancer in Houston. Her progression with this organization involved clinical and research financial responsibility, physician recruitment, contract negotiations and mentorship. She was the chief business officer for the largest Phase One clinical trial department, overseeing the transition from a program to one of the largest programs nationally.

In addition to her health care roles, volunteerism and community engagement are two areas that passionately interest her. She has served on the Association of Cancer Executives board, has been a Girl Scout troop leader for over 15 years, is a long-standing volunteer patient greeter and is involved with food sourcing for underserved areas.

Ollieta earned her bachelor’s degree in business and a Master’s of business administration from Phillips University in Oklahoma.  

Ollieta has been married to her husband, Yohance Nicholas, for over 23 years. They are committed to raising three wonderful daughters. She enjoys cycling, reading and being active outdoors in her free time.


Bob Bush

CEO - Austin Diagnostic Clinic


Howard Garner

Vice President of Operations - St. David’s North Austin Medical Center St. David’s Surgical Hospital

Howard Garner joined St David’s North Austin Medical Center and St David’s Surgical Hospital as the Vice President of Operations in 2021. In this role, Howard oversees the day to day operations of the hospital and leads a variety of programs and services lines including the Cardiac Cath Lab, Pharmacy, Radiology, Respiratory Therapy, Laboratory, Food and Nutrition Services, Environmental Services and Volunteers.

Prior to St David’s, Howard serviced as the Vice President of Operations at Methodist Metropolitan Hospital in San Antonio. During his tenure at Metropolitan, Howard was responsible for Business Development, Facility Operations, Rehabilitation, Cardiac Cath Labs, Security, Volunteers and Medical Office Buildings. He also served as the Co-Ethics and Compliance officer and led the hospital’s strategic plan development.

Howard has 10 years of hospital experience. Prior to HCA, Howard worked at several other institutions including Baylor Scott and White and Kaiser Permanente. Howard began his career in healthcare serving in a number of roles including supply chain, clinic management, finance and strategy.

Howard earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Florida State University and went on to earn his Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in healthcare administration from Baylor University.


Brooks Blakemore

CEO - Blakemore Consulting

Brooks Blakemore serves as CEO of Blakemore Consulting, a network development and network adequacy firm, championing a turnkey solution for health plans of all sizes across all lines of business. In this role, Brooks manages the multifaceted aspects of health plan clients’ network growth and expansion, in all areas from network strategy, network modeling and development, network adequacy, to compliance and reporting. Brooks leverages his experience in navigating the continuous industry changes that often cause organizations costly product delays and inefficient provider contracting fulfillment, allowing clients to fully capitalize on financial opportunities as they present themselves in the marketplace. Brooks has grown the Blakemore development team organically, based on longstanding industry relationships and specific skill sets required for successful project execution, to represent experience in over forty states.

Before founding Blakemore Consulting, Brooks held diverse roles in the managed care industry, encompassing provider relations, network development, health plan operations, project management and analytics. Brooks’ experience extended across eighteen markets specific to the Medicare, Medicaid, and Commercial lines of business.

Brooks holds a BS in Public Relations from Texas State University, an MHA from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and is an Associate member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Additionally, Brooks is actively engaged in various capacities with multiple healthcare startup organizations.


Jace Jones

Chief Administrative Officer - Ascension Seton Bastrop and Ascension Seton Smithville and Ascension Seton Edgar B Davis

Experienced healthcare leader with experience in operations management, financial management, quality improvement, physician recruitment, strategic and service line development and implementation.


Jazbeen Ahmad, M.D.

Chief Administrative Officer - Ascension Seton Bastrop and Ascension Seton Smithville and Ascension Seton Edgar B Davis

Jazbeen Ahmad, M.D., is an Internist and Associate Medical Director of Hospitalist Services for Baylor Scott & White, Hillcrest. She has been with Hillcrest for 8 years. She serves on the Baylor Scott & White Women Leaders in Medicine committee and the Hillcrest Hospital Board.

In the community she is the Chair of the Christian Emphasis Committee for the Greater Waco YMCA and the Finance Chair for the Asian Leader Network. She lives with her husband and three children in Lorena.



Chief Executive Officer / St. David’s North Austin Medical Center

Tom joined St. David’s HealthCare in the spring of 2017 as CEO of St. David’s North Austin Medical Center and St. David’s Surgical Hospital. North Austin, a 425 bed tertiary facility, is one of eight hospitals within the St. David’s network offering a wide array of medical and surgical services including its signature Women’s Center of Texas, the Texas Robotics Institute, a neuroscience center, a kidney transplant program and a children’s hospital. The St. David’s Surgical Hospital specializes in orthopedic, gynecologic, general, spine and plastic surgeries featuring destination-level amenities and services.

Prior to joining St. David’s, Tom served as CEO of Tomball Regional Medical Center, a 350 bed tertiary level hospital in Northwest Houston and was active on the Tomball and Woodlands Chambers of Commerce.

Prior to Tomball, Tom served College Station Medical Center for 17 years as its Chief Executive Officer, where he helped introduce and stimulate several new and sustaining healthcare services throughout the Bryan/College Station market. He was a very active service leader in Aggieland including the B/CS Chamber of Commerce, CSISD and TAMU.

Prior to College Station, Tom served in healthcare leadership positions in Houston across three different healthcare systems for 16 years including, The Methodist Hospital, Twelve Oaks Hospital and MHMRA of Harris County.

Tom is known for his collaborative skills with physicians and his ability to stimulate new and visionary healthcare services.

Tom earned undergraduate degrees in accounting and data processing / quantitative analysis from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and a master’s degree in Healthcare administration from Trinity University in San Antonio.

Tom and Susan have been married for over 30 years and have three daughters – two Aggies and a Longhorn. Tom is very dedicated to his family and loves to travel and spend time with them. In 2010 Tom’s father asked him to manage a four generation family farm in Arkansas which he and Susan do together. Tom is an active reader of history, specifically presidential leadership and active in his church. He is running enthusiast as well.


Cristian H Lieneck, Ph.D. FACHE

Associate Professor - Texas State University

Dr. Lieneck has over 10 years of practical experience in the field of healthcare administration with a strong focus in medical group practice management and over a decade of preparing future healthcare leaders in higher ed.

He began working in the healthcare field while in high school as a licensed emergency medical technician (EMT) and later commissioned as a Medical Service Corps officer (MSC officer) in the United States Army.

Dr. Lieneck is a fellow and board certified in medical group practice management by the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE), the credentialing body of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) – the premiere professional association for medical group/ambulatory care practice administrators. He is a fellow and board certified in healthcare management by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), and a fellow in the Academy of Healthcare Management (AHM). He is also a Certified Professional in Health Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS), credentialed through the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

Dr. Lieneck continues to participate in professional leadership roles at national, state, and local levels. He is a faculty member with the American College of Healthcare Executives and teaches the Healthcare Finance module for the Board of Governors FACHE exam review course. He has been appointed and continues to serve as the MGMA Forum Representative for the state of Texas. He serves the profession by participating on various committees with other local, state, and national professional organizations. He is an active member of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) and serves as a program reviewer to ensure the quality of healthcare management education.


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