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The Official Baldrige Blog

Celebrating the 2017 Baldrige Award Winners!

Ceremony honoring the 2017 Baldrige Award Recipients on April 8, 2018. Showing the Award crytal with a flag in the background.
Credit: Jim Barber/Shutterstock

Five Organizations Officially Received Nation’s Highest Honor for Performance Excellence

High spirits abounded yesterday evening at the official ceremony for the 2017 Baldrige Award recipients.

“This is so much fun!” exclaimed Dr. Katherine Gottlieb, president and CEO of the two-time Baldrige Award-winning Southcentral Foundation, early in her remarks at the event in Baltimore, MD. When Gottlieb asked, “What does it feel like to be the only health care organization to have received the Baldrige Award twice?” Southcentral employees and other supporters in the audience responded with drumming and cheers. “Yep, that’s what it feels like,” she said.

Before presenting the prestigious awards, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology Dr. Walter G. Copan—representing the U.S. Department of Commerce—gave a warm and upbeat speech. Referring to the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, Copan said, 

“It’s the pinnacle of recognition. … 110 organizations over the last 30 years have achieved this pinnacle of performance. … This is like the Olympics for American excellence.” 

2017 Baldrige Award Recipient Senior Leader Remarks

Senior leaders for each of the five 2017 recipients of the Baldrige Award also spoke at the ceremony. Here are a few highlights from their remarks:

R. Michael Browder Quest Speaker photo

R. Michael Browder
Bristol Tennessee Essential Services 
(small business; Bristol, TN)

“We have been on this journey for over thirty years so receiving this prestigious award is a huge honor. As most everyone in this room knows, it takes a lot of time, a lot of support, and a lot of dedication to create and maintain a culture of continuous improvement.”

Celeste Ford Quest Speaker photo

Celeste Ford
CEO and Founder
Stellar Solutions
(small business; Palo Alto, CA)

“I have always envisioned Stellar to be a company that is built to last. ... And if you ask how we can ensure that we are built to last, I would say the answer is Baldrige. When I was introduced to the Baldrige framework, it resonated immediately because unlike many other certifications or performance excellence measures, it is not prescriptive—it is adaptable to any organization, at any point on their journey to excellence. At Stellar, we have wholeheartedly adopted the Baldrige framework and it has made all the difference.”

Darin Atteberry Quest Speaker photo

Darin Atteberry
City Manager
City of Fort Collins 
(nonprofit; Fort Collins, CO)

“We believe that government can be great. We believe that local government can be great. And we believe that the Baldrige framework is ideally suited to help local government go from here to here [gesturing high].”

Kathy Raethel Quest Speaker photo

Kathy Raethel
Adventist Health Castle 
(health care; Kailua, HI)

“As we have reached this summit in our Baldrige journey and I look around me, I find myself surrounded by 1,100 of my closest associates, 300 trusted and skilled physician colleagues, 250 treasured volunteers, our Adventist Health system leadership, and my amazing family. We have climbed this [Baldrige] mountain together, and the view from the summit is extraordinary.”

Katherine Gottlieb Quest Speaker photo

Katherine Gottlieb
President & CEO
Southcentral Foundation 
(health care; Anchorage, AK)

“After having won the first award, we continued our improvement process knowing that we were going for this golden, twice winning experience! It has been worth every step as proven by SCF’s achievement in the Baldrige definition of “best-in-class” performance and today’s Presidential award for performance excellence.”

NIST Director Praises Entire Baldrige Community

In addition to lauding the high achievements of the five new Baldrige Award recipients, Copan expressed appreciation for the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and all the organizations and individuals that are part of its nationwide public-private partnership. Since Copan began serving last year as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which houses the Baldrige Program, he has conveyed firm support for it.

Read the related news story and view photos from the awards ceremony on NIST's news page.


About the author

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP). Her work has focused on producing BPEP publications and communications. She also has been highly involved in the Baldrige Award process, Baldrige examiner training, and other offerings of the program.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a double major, receiving highest distinction for her thesis in the interdisciplinary Political & Social Thought Program. She also has a master's degree from Georgetown University, where her studies and thesis focused on social and public policy issues. 

When not working, she sits in traffic in one of the most congested regions of the country, receives consolation from her rescued beagles, writes poetry, practices hot yoga, and tries to cultivate a foundation for three kids to direct their own lifelong learning (and to PLEASE STOP YELLING at each other—after all, we'll never end wars if we can't even make peace at home!).

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