After surviving the aftermath of a tornado in 2011 in Joplin, Missouri — one that required her health care employer to rebuild its hospital — Dignity Health’s Shelly Schorer was ready for a change.
Six years ago, she moved to California to work for Dignity Health’s Northern California division as its CFO. Since November, she’s served as interim president.
“Dignity Health has been excellent to me as a woman leader. Only about nine percent of CFOs are women,” Schorer says. “We’re known for our diversity. We have a great culture. All of our leaders are encouraged to be volunteers on boards.” Every employee receives training in diversity, equity and inclusion. Earlier this year, Newsweek named Dignity Health California on their list of America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity. A partnership starting in 2024 with Morehouse School of Medicine provides more openings for Black physicians, with Dignity Health in California as the first site “so we can ensure the provider matches the culture they serve,” Schorer says.
Overseeing finances at six Sacramento-area hospitals, which employ 16,000 people, Schorer works with 11 hospital presidents to provide an integrated-delivery network, vertically aligning its hospitals, physicians, imaging centers, surgery centers and health clinics.
“I want to leave things better than I found them. Having a profit allows us to reinvest in our hospitals.”
What sets Dignity Health apart is a mission to provide “quality and safe care to all of our community,” Schorer says. “We treat a disproportionate number of uninsured or underinsured. Everyone has care, regardless of culture, race and social status.”
Empowering patients to understand their bills — not just set up payment plans — is another mantra. “It takes compassion. You meet people at the hardest point in their lives,” Schorer says. Being a good listener, expressing empathy and kindness, acting transparently and thriving in a collaborative environment have allowed her to excel as CFO. In April, Schorer and her team will fly to Washington D.C. to talk to politicians about current struggles in providing health care.
In 2021, Schorer won an Outstanding Alumni Award from Pittsburg State University in Kansas, where she earned her MBA, and was recently named one of the Top 150 CFOs to Know by Becker’s Healthcare.
“I wanted to do something with my education that would build a career and for the greater good,” Schorer says. “I didn’t just want to count widgets.”