Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Stone


Karen Stone
Director of Marketing, Amplion
Programming volunteer (2003-2004)
Programming Chair (2004-2005)
President Elect (2005-2006)
President (2006-2007)
Past President – CEA Award (2007-2008)
AMA Professional Chapters Council (2008-2014)
AMA Professional Chapters Council President (2011-2014)
AMA National Audit and Finance Committee (2014-2016)

What prompted you to join NAMA?
I joined NAMA to quickly increase my marketing knowledge. When I joined the organization in 2003, I was transitioning from my career in broadcast news and needed a way to rapidly ramp up my understanding of marketing principles and best practices. NAMA became my go to resource and still is today. The programming is consistently outstanding and my professional network is my lifeline.

You have served on NAMA’s Board in the past. Why did you decide to volunteer?
At my very first meeting, I made a programming suggestion to the current president. I don’t recall exactly what it was, but it must have been somewhat intriguing, because he asked to continue the conversation over coffee. Before I knew it, I was tapped to become programming chair and was hooked.

I learned that being a volunteer provided a valuable test environment for my budding marketing career. Every volunteer experience was a chance to learn something new and collaborate with incredible marketing minds from a variety of industries. Many of the people I met through those experiences became mentors who helped shape my career and are now some of my most cherished friends.

Having volunteered with NAMA and with the AMA at the national level for more than 13 years, I can tell you that I have received far more than I have given.

What has been the proudest moment as a volunteer?
My proudest moment by far was in 2008 when NAMA entered the national AMA Chapter of Excellence Awards for the first time ever and won first runner up.

It was my year as president of NAMA and the culmination of several years of work alongside a dynamic group of volunteers. Accepting that coveted award on behalf of the many hardworking volunteers who believed in the vision and mission and poured their heart and soul into the chapter to receive that validation and recognition was thrilling.

Since then, NAMA has grown to be such a respected force locally and nationally. I am very proud of the legacy of leadership in this organization and the committed volunteers that kick it up a notch year after year.

How has NAMA impacted you professionally?
NAMA is most definitely one of the best decisions of my professional career. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today without having joined this organization and invested my time as a volunteer.

The knowledge I gained and the friendships that formed laid a strong foundation for me to grow personally and professionally. From landing jobs and informing my marketing strategy to growing my leadership skills, there is no doubt NAMA has played a pivotal role in my career and continues to do so even today.

What differentiates NAMA from other groups?
The people and strong programming are two of the biggest differences in my mind. I visited several other organizations in town before deciding to join NAMA. There were none where I felt the warmth and immediate sense of belonging I felt here.

When I attend events or even just attend a mixer, I always take home some new piece of info I can use. I would say that’s a pretty strong ROI!

Can you share a memorable experience from your career thus far?
I’ve had so many wonderful experiences in my career, it’s difficult to choose just one, but if I have to narrow it down, I would say my current role has probably been the most fulfilling. Being a healthcare marketer, I get to go to work every day in a mission-driven technology company focused on improving the consistency and quality of patient care in hospitals.

The work we are doing at Amplion is transformational and disruptive. Developing the inbound marketing strategy and a thought leadership platform that is attracting attention from many of the top hospitals and hospital systems in the country gets me very excited.

Why would you encourage others to join and volunteer with NAMA?
I’ve already mentioned this a number of times, but I would say as a marketer, there is no greater way to build your knowledge and network than being a part of NAMA.

Volunteering, in particular, can enrich your membership experience and your career in valuable ways that cannot be replicated any other way. Of course, like anything, it’s only as good as the quality of your investment. I’ve found the more you give, the more you gain. After 13 years of AMA membership and volunteer experience, I think I’m a pretty good case study for the benefits of volunteer service.

The changing attitudes of consumerism in healthcare with Mark Lee Taylor

By Chuck Bryant, Relationary Marketing | 1.4.17

Healthcare in Nashville is a billion-dollar industry, but not all of what drives consumers’ medical decisions is based on what happens on the operating table or in the physician’s office.

With more than 20 years under his belt, Mark Lee Taylor knows a thing or two about how to inform and advertise to those looking for care for themselves or their loved ones.

Taylor is the Director of Communications for the Clinical Services Group at HCA, where he develops new and innovating ways to connect with consumers in the healthcare sector. He will be moderating a panel on how to navigate the shift toward consumerism in healthcare marketing at NAMA’s Power Lunch on Thursday, Jan. 12, at City Winery.

According to Taylor, many people see healthcare as a consumerist service or product until they or a loved one need healthcare, at which point it becomes a vital need. This urgency sets healthcare apart from most other industries in which major decisions can be postponed or researched over time.

That’s where healthcare marketing comes in – providing information as immediately and seamlessly as possible, while also minimizing negative experiences and impact, Taylor explained.

“People have to look at a lot of information fast and have to find a lot of answers fast. The marketer that can provide the easiest pathway to give them information and solve their problem really has the upper hand,” Taylor said.

Having worked as a healthcare marketing pioneer in the ‘90s with St. Thomas Heart Institute, Taylor has noticed a significant shift in both the focus of the industry and its consumers in just a couple of decades.

“A lot of the advertising campaigns for hospitals were centered around caring and how much the hospitals provided care, what great care they provided. It focused on advertising and community outreach more than any other marketing technique. Things have certainly changed since then,” Taylor said.

Today, he said, there is an inherent expectation that there is caring in the service industry, so people are more interested in good outcomes and cost transparency. Taylor believes that easy access to healthcare information – both true and false – has contributed to this shift.

“There’s so much more information available than there was previously. Before that, you had to rely on a physician or someone else or word of mouth to find out what you wanted. Back when we were doing advertising for healthcare systems, we were just trying to get people to indicate that they wanted to make a choice about where they went,” Taylor said.

Today’s healthcare consumers not only have more of a choice in where they seek care, but they are also “savvier” consumers with a higher service expectation, Taylor continued. Whereas patients might previously have been willing to wait two hours at a physician’s office, consumers today place emphasis on access and convenience in each step of their healthcare process

“There’s a lot of internal resistance in healthcare to refer to patients as consumers, and I think that point has finally hit the tipping point where people understand ‘Oh, they’re patients and consumers. Consumers have choices and are not going to blindly go where they’re sent.’”

Looking toward the future of healthcare marketing, Taylor said that big focuses will be on implementation of service standards in the physician’s offices and quick, convenient means of response between health care services and consumers.

“There’s two ways of looking at anything, and life’s all about how you look at it. In this case, it’s a really exciting time to be in healthcare. We’re going to need creative, innovative ideas more than ever. And who is it that comes up with those things in America? It’s marketers,” he said.

Connect with Taylor on LinkedIn.

On Jan. 12, Taylor will moderate How Consumerism is Affecting Healthcare Marketing alongside SmileDirectClub’s Hal Hassall, Nicole Provonchee of MissionPoint Health, and Celina Burns, consultant to Healthcare Blue Book at the NAMA Power Lunch at City Winery. Register now.  

Editor’s Note: The NAMA Power Lunch podcast is a production of Relationary Marketing in partnership with the Nashville American Marketing Association. This episode was produced by Chuck Bryant and host Clark Buckner, edited and mixed by Jess Grommet, with music by Zachary D. Noblitt.

Chuck Bryant is co-founder and CEO of Relationary Marketing, a podcast production agency that creates broadcast-quality interviews for rich content marketing, event promotion, relationship nurturing and thought leadership.

Incoming NAMA President: Get Ready to Have Some Fun!

By Jamie Dunham, NAMA President | 7.24.16

Happy New Year, NAMA!

It seems a little funny to say, “Happy New Year,” but for the Nashville Chapter of the American Marketing Association (NAMA), it’s a New Year, and our talented new board has been busy with plans for new NAMA year 2016-2017.

www.public-domain-image.com (public domain image)

So in the spirit of the season, let’s throw some confetti and thank last year’s leaders for a great foundation on which to grow. And let’s countdown this New Year with some new goals and initiatives – because that’s what marketers do.

Here are some of the changes in our new year:

New Venue for Our Power Lunches
That’s right, we are moving our lunch meetings to the fantastic City Winery venue that will well accommodate our speakers and programming with state-of-the-art staging and audio-visual.

And we will have discounts for Lyft to get us there in style.

Our Hospitality Chair Teresa Faust is working with her group to get us ready for our first Thursday Power Lunch on Sept. 8. And our programming committee led by Ann Howard is planning smart insightful speakers.

New sponsor Relationary Marketing will create podcasts with our speakers to allow us to know them better.

What’s your jam? Ours is The One Hitters, a fun One Hit Wonders Band, where NAMA member Peter Cronin and his band mates rock out.

2016 NAMA JAMA Graphic

So “Baby Come Back” to our NAMA JAMA Mixer on Aug. 9 at Stagepost. You like it “More Today than Yesterday,” and you’ll be “Fallin’ in Love” with NAMA and your new friends.

Mixing Up Our Mixers
After NAMA JAMA, we’ll be hitting the road for our mixers, exploring offices of some of the top marketing groups in town and visiting some interesting businesses in town.

A big thanks goes to Lynn Bennett’s membership team and the Grand Mixer Bill Selph for getting us out on the town.

Also, look for impromptu invitations to pop-up events for drinks in a popular watering hole.

Serious about SIGs
President-Elect Lori Whitbey and the SIG chairs are working on new SIG events for B2B, Healthcare, Non-Profits, Marketing Technology, Research and Collegiate Relations.

Get to know our SIG Chairs – B2B’s Paula Milam, Healthcare’s Andrea Gillotte, Non-Profits’ Bob Duthie, Marketing Technology’s Knight Stivender, Research’s Sheila King and Collegiate Relations James Scherer and mark your calendar for your favorite group.

We will also be extending the invitation to members interested in SIG start-up events in new categories like entertainment.

Free Member Events
Sometimes we just like to roll up of sleeves and learn some new things.  Sponsorship’s chair Austin Harrison is working with our sponsors on some casual member-free events to allow us to learn some new skills. Stay tuned.

Our Sponsors are leading the way in making our year successful. We thank each of them for their contributions.

And our treasurers Jason Hoard and Jeff Peden are keeping us fiscally responsible. Oh, and they love a good party.

Our historian Julie McReynolds is providing continuity, and our secretary Kurt Kirton is working on updates to our Job Board.

Our Communications team, led by Melinda Hudgins Noblitt and our Social Media team chaired by Elizabeth Duffey, will make sure you are informed with new blogs, a newsletter, website updates, and social media. Mark your calendars!

And our Volunteer team chaired by Tim Earnhardt will make sure you find a place to plug in.

Our goals are pretty simple: this year is about making long-lasting marketing friends, learning some audacious new skills, and having a little fun.


Please take the time to make new friends at NAMA. Instead of just coming to “network,” wouldn’t it be great if you got involved, made lasting relationships, learned some new skills, and found great business partners?!

That’s something to toast about! Happy New Year, NAMA!



Jamie Dunham is 2016-2017 President of Nashville AMA. She is founder and president of Brand Wise, a brand strategy firm with a focus on building culturally relevant brands. She authors the popular blog Lipstick Economy offering perspectives on marketing to women. Brand Wise is hosting Red Letter Day, a one-day marketing to women event on August 5. 

5 Enticingly Healthy Brand Bites

By Melinda Scruggs Gales, Guest Blogger | 7.18.16

There’s lots to love about Nashville. Most of all, we like the many ways to expand your mind, not just your waistline (check out Nashville’s culinary kudos here).

You can’t be everywhere, so we’re serving up nourishment from five healthcare industry events you may have missed. On our menu: Meat & Three, plus Sweet Ice Tea.


Fried Chicken
Health:Further Quarterly (5/10)

Focus on Interoperability with Jumpstart Foundry, Vanderbilt University, Health System Partnerships, Octovis, Virsys12, and more. To transform healthcare, focus on each patient (customer) as an individual.

We need faster and more affordable ways to connect and use the vast field of existing data in medical equipment, Electronic Health Records (EHR), DNA, insurance claims and more. Accessibility meeting clear standards in a single source of protected digital truth – this is true interoperability.

Quote of the day: “Government sets the floor (through policy), not the bar (our processes) – aim higher.” – Anita Summarth/@ClinovationsGov

Take-a-way: If you’re only striving to achieve compliance, you’ll miss the opportunity to lead.


Green Beans
American Marketing Association (Nashville – #NAMA) Healthcare Special Interest Group (5/10)

Searching for the Elusive ROI with Lewis Communications, Alliance Oncology, LifePoint Health and The Tennessean. With healthcare payments shifting from volume to value, it’s critical to clearly identify what needs to be measured before you start tracking data or you’ll end up with numbers, not data, for decisions.

Quote of the day: “Patients (customers) arrive at your door daily for a number of reasons, be sure you ask them why (gather qualitative or ‘unstructured’ data) and combine that with standardized check boxes (quantitative or ‘structured’).” –Susan Polier, Alliance Oncology

Take-a-way: Don’t ever replace real customer conversation with surveys. The combination will provide a better picture and move you faster to strong ROI.


Mac & Cheese
Werkshop DIG Seminar (5/24)

How Data Science is Revolutionizing the Art of Marketing with Jim Alcott, Alcott Marketing Science. Most brands have a “persona” in mind when they’re selling, but rarely look at hard data to analyze actual shoppers and their “propensity to purchase.”

When the Shark Tank investor asks for your customer acquisition cost, will you have a researched number or a guess?

Quote of the day: “Easier customer acquisition is not always indicative of true customer value.” – Jim Alcott, Alcott Marketing Science

Take-a-way: Great marketing is a delicious mix of art and science – don’t skimp on either.


Okra (fried of course)
Mental Health Marketing Conference (May 12-13)

Directing Individuals to Treatment Through Modern Marketing with Lipscomb University, Foundations Recovery Networks, Insight Counseling Centers, Centerstone, and more. This impressive debut event featured quality speakers highlighting the mental healthcare market, now being openly courted as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

All industries can learn how disruption opens doors for opportunity by watching this revolution.

Quote of the 2 days: “We must stop viewing mental health as separate from medical health” – Paul Gionfriddo (via Kriste Goad, Revive).

Take-a-way: Stop looking at a slice of your customer persona in relation to your offer – see them as whole people with many needs in order to build relationships, not a sales number.


Sweet Ice Tea
Salon @615 Event (5/18)

Steve Case, author, The Third Wave, with Stuart McWhorter and John Ingram presented by the Nashville Public Library Foundation. Sometimes you have to check the view from 50,000 feet (at least) and look at history in order to be visionary about the future.

Understanding how technology caused culture change in waves is critical: Wave 1 – disruption of communication — Wave 2 – disruption of commerce — Wave 3 – disruption of business and everyday life.

Quote of the day: “This new generation will drive change motivated by both profit and purpose.” – Steve Case.

Take-a-way: To be truly successful, stay curious about what is possible and what will benefit others.
Thanks for taking the time to share a digital meal with us. If you’re a successful brand wanting to be heard above the noise, come talk to us. Reach out at elevate@galesnetwork.com

This post originally appeared on Gales Network Blog.

Melinda Scruggs Gales is Chief Brand Strategist for Nashville-based brand consultancy GALES NETWORK, a proven catalyst for brand clarity, strategy and effective action for clients in healthcare, entertainment, and technology.

4 Reasons You Should Attend the March Power Lunch

By Melinda Hudgins Noblitt | 2.25.16

Palliative care is quite possibly the least “fun” topic to discuss – and yet, it’s one of the most important conversations you’ll ever have in your life.

In less than a week, NAMA will bring together Sloane Scott, Vice President of Communications for Narus Health, and Gretchen Napier owner and CEO of LifeLinks Care Management, to share the importance of having these oh-so-necessary sensitive conversations.


If you’re still on the fence about RSVPing, we have 4 Reasons You Should Attend the March Power Lunch:

  1. You’ll learn how to prepare now for what could happen later.
    Here’s the thing: crisis never comes at a good time. How many times have you gotten a flat tire during a casual Sunday afternoon drive? I’m willing to bet never. Instead, it happens when you’re already late for a meeting. Bonus points if it’s raining outside.Just as you should plan ahead by regularly inspecting (and yes, Dad, rotating and balancing) your tires, so should you have a game plan for a potential crisis.When crisis strikes, decisions have to be made quickly, and let’s face it, no one makes good decisions under that kind of stress.Creating a plan of action also allows the patient to be involved in the decision-making process.“Most of us feel really strongly about being in control of our lives, and if we wait until something bad happens to us, we don’t always get to participate in those decisions,” Napier said.

    “Whoever is going to be making decisions with you and for you (should) talk about it when not in crisis, so everyone can really understand the values behind it.”

    Sometimes the conversation is as simple as “Do you want a feeding tube?” But more often, it’s more of a gray area, Napier explained.

  2. Passion abounds.
    While Scott and Napier are in different healthcare specialties, they share a commonality: passion.Five minutes with these ladies, and you’ll fully understand that this is their life’s work.As someone who has been a professional patient on and off for 20-plus years, Scott knows a thing or two about the “patient’s perspective.”“If I can help change the life of one patient, one family, or one caregiver that is given a diagnosis like this – one who doesn’t understand what the options are or who is going to fight for them – that’s a huge thing,” Scott said. “That’s being able to take passion and turn it into a mission, and that’s really how I (arrived) at Narus Health. That’s why I’m here.”Napier’s story is a little different; however, she maintains the same desire of helping others. What began as volunteer work in high school and has evolved into empowering families to take back control of their lives.LifeLinks’ mission is to change the aging process from one of fear, institutionalization, and confusion to one of laughter, reconciliation, and good memories.

    Affectionate old couple with the wife holding on lovingly to the husband's face. Focus on the husband's eyes. Concept: Elderly love.

  1. The 40/70 Rule is real.
    Conversations should start once adult children turn 40 years old or parents reach the 70-year mark.“That seems really young, but your odds of needing that information increases over those ages,” Napier said. “It’s really never too soon to have it, but it gives people a good goal to know that ‘Yes, now it’s time.’”She says there are five categories to consider:a. Socialization
    This is a good way to get the conversation started. Most folks underestimate the value of socialization, but it keeps people cognitively intact. When a parent can no longer drive, who will they continue relationships with others? Maybe that means utilizing Uber or hiring a driver – or maybe it means moving into an independent living facility.b. Daily activities
    From buying groceries to taking medicines to bathing, daily living becomes less routine and increasingly more taxing. Ask your parent how he/she would like to handle those types of activities.c. Medical Care Management
    Whether your parent has one doctor or five doctors, managing appointment after appointment can become overwhelming. Who can schedule those meetings and drive your parent to them?

    d. Driving
    This is a big category, and it’s helpful to talk about now. Ask what criteria should be used when your parent is no longer in a position to drive.

    e. Housing
    Many people are adamant about staying in their homes “no matter what.” But 24-hour care can become quite expensive, especially when compared to the cost of an assisted living facility.

    “The sooner you have these conversations, the less scary it is,” Napier says. “We can give you tips for how to do it. Don’t be afraid to have the conversation.”


  1. Spend your time doing what’s important to you.
    From the moment a doctor presents the diagnosis, everything becomes a blur – and then you’re in limbo land for about two weeks, Scott explained.“I want to narrow that window; it should be less than 48 hours,” she said.“Help me understand everything about you, not just the illness, but what’s important to you physically, mentally, emotionally – all the things that matter – and what that means for your illness. Then let’s help you figure out your fast-forward. When you’re fighting something like this, it isn’t about the illness; illness is only one piece of it. But everything in your life becomes time-based.”Narus Health will utilize technology to deliver personalized palliative care by creating a care platform that works very easily with existing systems.“What’s missing from healthcare is the humanness of it all,” Scott says. “What’s meant to be a profession based on taking care of people has become a transaction experience. This is a chance for us to change the way we treat people with serious illness.”

Register for the March 8 Power Lunch here.

NAMA President: This group is on fire!

By Courtenay Rogers, NAMA President | 1.5.16

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Courtenay Rogers

There is no question Nashville is part of the “it city” movement.

Our city was recently named the top destination of 2015 by Travel + Leisure readers, beating out international hot spots like Adelaide, Australia, and Korea, as well as domestic cities New Orleans and Detroit.

NAMA is capturing that momentum and moving full speed ahead.

Our year officially started in July and kicked off with a sold-out mixer at Amerigo of 100 marketing professionals, students, and thought leaders gathering for good company and great food.

Speaking of Amerigo, they are our mixer sponsor and have done an amazing job with all of our mixers, treating us to lavish appetizers, and top-notch service.

The best part about these events is the genuine connections that actually happen over cocktails and handshakes.

Our Power Lunch series launched in September with a panel discussing experiential marketing, then continued with programming that included innovation in video and engagement through passion.

Our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) offered multiple, excellent events in the areas of B2B marketing and Healthcare marketing.

Our membership committee coordinated monthly coffees for folks who may be interested in joining NAMA. In fact, we added quite a few members over the past six months!

One of our newest sponsors, Alcott Whitney, has been working diligently behind the scenes helping us to analyze our data and engage our members more effectively from a communications perspective.

We’re getting geeky, learning more about using Google Analytics and integrating our vast collection of tools.

NAMA has more than 380 members, and our programming, networking, and educational opportunities have been abundant in 2015. This year is sure to offer even more!

Our research committee continues to ask event attendees and members what most interests them, and our programming reflects their feedback.

Marketing automation is a hot topic and was chosen as the theme for our Jan. 7 Power Lunch that includes quite an impressive panel of experts in the field.

NAMA is one of the most robust chapters of the American Marketing Association (AMA), and the national chapter offers local chapters like ours extensive support with weekly training calls, virtual events, case studies, and white papers.

President Elect Jamie Dunham is taking a handful of our board members to the AMA Regional retreat in Birmingham at the end of January to learn best practices from other chapters in the area.

We’re excited to support one of our sponsors Emma again in 2016 as a partner in their second annual Marketing United conference this spring. Keep your ears open for special discounts and volunteer opportunities for what will be one of the most inspiring marketing events in Nashville.

We’re all about supporting the Nashville community and are very grateful for the support that our sponsors offer us and our members.

Being President of NAMA is an honor and a privilege, and I’m truly excited to see what 2016 brings for our members, guests, and volunteers. Thank you for a wonderful 2015 and cheers to a productive and positive new year!

Ten Things You Should Know about NAMA

By Jamie Dunham, NAMA President-Elect | 12.29.15

top 10

I am a sucker for Top Ten lists, and 2015 has been a good year at the Nashville AMA chapter, so I thought it would be helpful to reflect on the Top Ten Things You Should Know About NAMA:

  1. Informed Marketing Insights
    Our members say that learning the latest marketing trends is one of the top member benefits. To ensure that learning continues, our NAMA Programming team spends hours juggling calendars, contacts, hot topics and research to bring us programming from informed leaders in their fields.Some of the topics from 2015 Power Lunches have included Experiential Marketing, Video Innovation, Non-Profit Marketing, Marketing to Women, Social Media experts and Sports Marketing leaders. Each speaker provided current information and insights not found by just reading blogs or reading books, and they were very generous in sharing their current experience in their fields.After the 2015 Super Bowl, we heard from Nissan on its approach to the Super Bowl campaign from enlisting top bloggers early-on to actual advertising and social media, and we were able to hear first-hand results.
  1. Shared Expertise
    At NAMA, we have hosted member-only events that provide shared expertise in a variety of subjects from how to hone your presentations to how to deal with clients. Karl Sakas, an agency consultant and business coach, met with us this month to provide his insights on creating great client relationships and how to deal with difficult client situations.
  1. Category Knowledge
    We have several special interest groups within NAMA that provide excellent programs targeted at specific categories – Business to Business, Healthcare Marketing, Non-Profit Marketing, Technology Marketing and our newest group Research. Our Healthcare group regularly brings in market leaders like Rebecca Climer, SVP of Marketing and Communications at Saint Thomas Health to discuss their marketing strategy. Research hosted a round table as their initial event this year.  And our B2B group brought in Gannett to talk about marketing strategy.
  1. Relationships
    NAMA is an extremely welcoming group. With the growth in the Nashville marketing community, NAMA provides a home for marketers where they can make peer relationships not available elsewhere. Getting involved, attending meetings and working on committees provide opportunities for marketing relationships that live beyond your current job.I have several close friendships with persons I have met through NAMA. These relationships have made my life richer and my professional life more relevant. I count on these friends for important advice, special insights and referrals to specialists I might not know.
  1. Inside Scoop
    I have a friend who always says, “What’s the scoop?’ Well, when you are involved at NAMA, you have inside information on business changes, corporate changes and new jobs. This information makes your cocktail conversation richer, and friends will look at you as the “person in the know.”
  1. National Perspective
    NAMA is part of the American Marketing Association, a national organization that provides an array of resources (also a top member benefit). Its website provides excellent resources, events, webinars, publications, and content helpful to marketers. Take a minute to read The AMA’s Top 10 Marketing Stories of 2015.
  1. Local Leaders
    Where else are you going to meet some of Nashville’s top marketing leaders? We host top leaders across all disciplines and brands. In our friendly and inclusive environment, we encourage NAMA participants to learn from these leaders. And, many times, these leaders are looking for talent. Win-win!
  1. Experience and Career Growth
    We encourage all volunteers and board members to add their NAMA experience to their resume and LinkedIn profile. NAMA is a great way to gain leadership experience and to build competency in a different marketing discipline. Prospective employers are always interested in your passion for your industry and participating in NAMA is a great way to exhibit that passion.
  1. Valuable Partnerships
    NAMA has been asked to participate in several other marketing events throughout 2015. We provided volunteers to Emma’s Marketing United Conference and the Fuel Lines New Business Conference.In exchange, discounts were available to our members. These conferences were highlights of the marketing year in Nashville and were enjoyed by our members.
  1. Networking
    I left networking for the end of the list. Most people say networking is an important benefit to participation in NAMA; however, I think participation is the key to networking.Just showing up at a meeting, collecting business cards, and pestering people for coffees and lunches is not effective networking.Networking comes from really engaging with fellow members, getting to know about them on a personal level and working/learning together provides the foundation for real and sustained networking. I’m confident that many of my fellow members will join me in this insight.Getting to know folks at NAMA is easy. We provide many venues – monthly coffees, monthly mixers, breakfasts, lunches and parties. So jump in!

If you are not currently a member of NAMA, 2016 might be a good time to join so you can enjoy more NAMA benefits. By the way, 95 percent of our members say they are satisfied with the NAMA membership.

From Rookie to VP: Saint Thomas’ Rebecca Climer’s Climb to the Top

By Melinda Hudgins Noblitt | 8.18.15

In less than a week, Rebecca Climer will keynote the sold-out NAMA Healthcare SIG with an update on Saint Thomas Health.

As senior vice president, chief communications, and marketing officer for Saint Thomas Health, she’s no stranger to NAMA. Just last year, Climer spoke to members about the hospital group’s rebrand, “Nothing shall be Impossible.” The campaign would go on to receive numerous awards, including an Emmy nomination.

Rebecca Climer  For 35 years, Climer has navigated the ever-changing healthcare landscape, and she recently shared her story of growing from rookie to VP and everything in between.

The year was 1980. Rebecca Climer had just completed her master’s degree and was more than ready to launch her career.

She never anticipated working in the medical field, but was intrigued nonetheless by a posting for director of staff development at Rutherford Hospital.

In fact, it was her background in education and experience teaching as a graduate assistant that prompted Climer to apply for the position.

As a way to cut costs, the Murfreesboro hospital was interested in producing videos in-house for its hospital channel. Lucky for Climer, she had a knack for writing and had spent time involved in theater—both came in handy as she lugged around an enormous camera and monitor (Remember, this was 1980,  long before pocket-sized recording devices and iPhones).

“They put a fresh-out-of-grad-school, 24-year-old in charge of things like overseeing RN professional clinical development,” Climer says, laughing that she was in way over her head.

But she stuck with it for nearly two years before hospital administrators realized they needed to build a positive reputation within the community.

At that time, hospitals were in the business of caring for sick people, not striving to be good corporate citizens. And they sure didn’t have public relations departments or marketing teams.

So Climer became a communications department of one and figured things out as she went along.

“One of the best things that I can say about my career, which has now been 35 years, is that I have never followed anybody in any job,” Climer says, calling it a true blessing. “I have had opportunities four and five times in my career to create new positions for myself, and that’s wonderful.”

She had no budget, no job description, and no staff.

“But the president says to me, ‘I need you,’” she recalls. “So I went to Middle Tennessee State University to the bookstore and got a book on how to write a press release.”

Climer pointed out that many hospitals’ public relations departments started out as community education.

“It was free, it was kind of easy, and nobody could throw rocks at the fact that you were providing a free CPR class,” she says. “So I learned how to teach CPR. I would write a press release about the CPR class, then I’d teach the class, then I wrote a press release about the fact that we’d had the CPR class.”

From babysitting classes to smoking cessation workshops, this quickly became Climer’s formula: become a certified instructor, write a press release, teach the class, then write a follow-up press release.

She launched a public relations campaign by contacting local civic clubs and coordinating speaking engagements. Climer even planned a Halloween event at the hospital and worked tirelessly to promote the event for two months. It resulted in a line of trick-or-treaters spilling out into the street and approval for a small budget.

In 1986, Climer was promoted to vice president of public affairs before a change in leadership added strategic planning to her list of responsibilities.

Climer spent most her career—some 22 years—at Rutherford Hospital, which later became Middle Tennessee Medical Center, and now presently known as Saint Thomas – Rutherford Hospital.

In 2001, Saint Thomas purchased Baptist Hospital’s assets, and a year later, Climer accepted a role as vice president, marketing for the newly-formed Saint Thomas Health. Then in 2005, she stepped into the role of chief communications officer.

Looking back on her career with the hospital group, Climer says she’s most satisfied with two aspects: the ability to work with younger talent and her experience with the rebrand.

“Most of the people that I work with are, in some cases, decades younger than me, and I love the opportunity to work with them—to energize them, but also to help them develop in their career,” she explained. “Everything is changing so unbelievably rapidly in healthcare, in particular, and that’s the fun part.”

Climer continually inspires her department to continue learning and growing.

“You need to be able to deal with a bit of uncertainty. This journey is (like) holding a flashlight at your feet; you’re not going to see the long-term right away. We know what we want to accomplish, but things change very quickly.”

At a certain age, professionals have the responsibility to encourage younger people and give them guidance, she explained. While she didn’t have formal mentors throughout the years, Climer did have older colleagues who believed in her and encouraged her to accept new challenges.

“If you’re not scared at least every once in a while, you’re not growing,” she says.

The current Saint Thomas Health communication platform, “Nothing shall be Impossible,” is another gratifying aspect of Climer’s career.

“I can remember when we were shooting the photography, and a full orchestra was recording the score on Music Row, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is the best job ever.’ This is totally us—everything from the music to photography to messaging is so purely Saint Thomas Health, but also relevant to the community we serve,” she says.

Spirituality has always been important to Climer, and it wasn’t long before she received approval to incorporate faith into hospital-sponsored events that highlighted spiritual health in the workplace and showcased Biblical art.

“That’s another really tremendous thing that I’ve gotten to do in my career: work on things that are personally important to me and personally revitalizing to me,” she says.

While women are no strangers to the healthcare industry, they’re oftentimes found in clinical roles rather than on the leadership team. That said, Climer pointed out Karen Spring, who was recently named CEO of Saint Thomas Health, is also a nurse.

As the industry has grown, so has its need for designated communications roles like those Climer has held throughout the years. And while she’s a woman in an executive role, Climer said she doesn’t think of herself that way.

“I can be in a room, and if I’m the only woman, it’s not uncomfortable to me,” she said. “I’m the most senior communications person there can be in this system. That’s what I aspired to be. I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and I don’t know that I’m any better because I’m a woman or any worse.”

In addition to her many roles with Saint Thomas Health, Climer is very actively involved in the local community.

Over the past two years, she has chaired the Go Red Movement for the American Heart Association helping to create a national model for cause marketing, and she led Saint Thomas Health’s community relations efforts establishing strategic relationships with the AHA, Community Nashville, Cable (Nashville-based women’s networking organization), the Girl Scouts, and the YWCA.

Additionally, she serves on boards of the Council on Aging, New Beginnings Center, and the communications Advisory Board for Ascension Health.

Climer admitted her career is winding down, and she’s most looking forward to enjoying the sandy beaches of South Carolina. In the meantime, she’ll continue leading the marketing and communications efforts of Middle Tennessee’s premier hospital group.

“I just want to us to be the best, and I want everyone else to recognize that we’re the best,” she concludes.



February Healthcare SIG: Rebranding of Saint Thomas Health



Rebecca Climer, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer for Saint Thomas Health, gives you the inside-story of the region’s biggest healthcare marketing rebrand program of the year. Join us at the first Healthcare SIG of the year to find out how Saint Thomas Health transformed its identity, image and reputation after being entrenched in the region for decades. See how the relationships Saint Thomas Health built have impacted its services, approach and marketing and why they made the decision to undergo such an important change.



DATE:    Tuesday, February 18
PLACE:  Maggiano’s Little Italy, 3106 West End Avenue, Nashville
TIME:    11:30 a.m. to noon – Registration and networking
Noon to 1:00 p.m. – Lunch and program

COST: $35 for NAMA members / $45 for non-members
Complimentary Parking

Register Now Button 23-48-33



All of our Healthcare SIGs are sponsored by Sullivan Branding.







Rebecca Climer is SVP, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer for Saint Thomas Health. In this capacity, she oversees the marketing, PR, internal communications, interactive communications, and advertising functions for the system. Rebecca received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts Degrees from Oklahoma State University.

 She began with Saint Thomas Health working at Middle Tennessee Medical Center (now Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital), in 1980, serving first as Director of Staff Development and eventually as VP for Public Affairs and Planning with responsibilities for customer satisfaction, community relations, volunteer services and physician relations/referral. In 2002, Rebecca became Vice President, Marketing for the newly formed Saint Thomas Health Services and, later, Chief Communications Officer.

Restructuring the marketing function to support STHS’ service line strategy, Rebecca has facilitated the creation of system-wide branding functions, introduced social media to STHS’ communications regimen, and increased internal communications efforts significantly. Rebecca brings her involvement in numerous community and women’s organizations and issues to her STHS role by helping to position STHS as the healthcare organization that is uniquely concerned with women’s emotional, physical and spiritual health.

Over the past two years, Rebecca has chaired the Go Red Movement for the American Heart Association helping to create a national model for cause marketing and led STHS’ community relations efforts establishing strategic relationships with the AHA, Community Nashville, CABLE (women’s networking organization,) the Girl Scouts, and the YWCA. Rebecca serves on the boards of the Council on Aging, New Beginnings Center and on the Communications Advisory Board for Ascension Health.

Rebecca resides in Nashville with her husband, David.