Ascension Saint Thomas Executive Receives National Award for Health Care Strategy


The Society for Health Care Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD), a professional membership group for health care marketers, communicators, planners and business developers of the American Hospital Association (AHA), has announced Ruth Portacci, vice president of strategy for Ascension Saint Thomas, as a recipient of its 2022 Leadership Excellence Award.

This award honors inspiring strategic leaders in health care marketing, communications/PR, planning or business development—individuals who are truly exemplars of the strategy professions and demonstrate a career of stellar achievement. Each recipient has excelled in the areas of innovation, enhancement of the strategy profession, career achievements and leadership abilities.

Ruth Portacci’s career is strongly demonstrative of highly skilled strategic leadership in system strategy, business development, planning and, earlier in her career, marketing and communications. Ruth has over 30 years of healthcare experience in for-profit, public and non-profit hospitals advancing market share growth, hospital and physician practice acquisitions, physician relations and service line development. In her current role at Ascension Saint Thomas, she is responsible for accelerating Ascension Tennessee’s growth through its asset portfolio, strategic partnerships and growth plans. Ruth has generously volunteered her knowledge and expertise by writing, speaking, leading and mentoring including 9 years of SHSMD advisory board service and her board presidency in 2017. She was also instrumental in leading SHSMD publication Bridging Worlds: The Future Role of the Healthcare Strategist. Ruth is personally committed to population health, making strides to help address food insecurity in Middle Tennessee.

“Throughout her career, Ruth has worked with hundreds of corporate and hospital leaders, physicians, board and community members, and her teams of strategists around the country. Her influence and candor were recognized at all levels of the organization. Her expertise helped guide CEOs in their decision-making and she earned their trust as a valued colleague,” said Tim Adams, president and CEO, Ascension Saint Thomas. “She’s mentored many new strategists, both at the corporate and hospital levels, allowing them to grow into new roles and evolve their careers. In her current role at Ascension Tennessee, she plays an instrumental part in the strategy team’s success in accelerating the position of a $2 billion health system in a highly competitive market.”

About Ascension Saint Thomas
Ascension Saint Thomas operates 12 hospital campuses in Tennessee in addition to a comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics and rehabilitation facilities that cover a 45-county area and employ more than 8,500 associates. Across the state, Ascension Saint Thomas provided more than $180 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in fiscal year 2022. The health system has a 125-year history in Tennessee. Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable, through its more than 2,600 sites of care in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

About the Society for Health Care Strategy & Market Development
SHSMD, a professional membership group of the American Hospital Association, is the largest and most prominent voice for health care strategists in planning, marketing, public relations, communications and business development. SHSMD is committed to leading, connecting and serving its members to prepare them for the future with greater knowledge and opportunity as their organizations strive to improve the health of their communities. The society provides a broad and constantly updated array of resources, services, experiences and connections. For more information, visit

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