IBJNews

2012 Health Care Heroes: Michele Kuntz Wood, R.N.

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Health Care HeroesWINNER: Non-Physician

Michele Kuntz Wood, R.N.

Manager of Women’s Health Services, Franciscan St. Francis Health

 

The signature on her email messages includes a quote from Maya Angelou: “Women should be tough, tender, laugh as much as possible and live long lives.” That pretty much sums up Michele Kuntz Wood.

“I think most people, when they first meet me, would see me as pretty tough and maybe even hard-hearted,” Wood said. “I can be pretty single-minded. But there’s no one you’d rather be in battle with, rather than against.”


KuntzWood_Michele_NonPhys.jpg (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Wood, 60, has been an indomitable crusader for women’s health since becoming “hooked” on the power and miracle of birth during her second year of nursing school at Marion County General Hospital (now Wishard Memorial Hospital). After working as a nurse practitioner in women’s health in Utah for several years, she took a management position in obstetrics with St. Francis in 1984. She’s remained there for 27 years.

In 1987 Wood was charged with creating the hospital’s women’s health program and generating community interest in it long before such programs were in vogue.

“One of the gifts my parents instilled in me is the gift of leadership,” she said. “I like to build things. I have great tenacity and I can see how things work. It all comes down to building and creating a network of like-minded people.”

Wood likes to shake things up, fix them and move on. She attributes much of her success to a mantra her dad taught her: Just act like you know what you’re doing. “It’s worked out pretty well for me,” she said.

Many organizations and projects owe their success to Wood’s leadership skills. In 1992 she participated as a sponsor and helped to organize the first Race for the Cure in Indianapolis, an event she co-chaired in 2005.

“Twenty years later, this small event has become the largest single day charity event in the state, raising over $2.6 million,” said Dana Curish, executive director, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Central Indiana.

In 1995, Wood helped form the Breast Health Awareness League. Later she was instrumental in transitioning it into the Indianapolis Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, serving as the organization’s president and a member of the board in 2002.

She also spearheaded legislation that made the breast cancer awareness license plate a reality. Wood was a founding member of Y-Me of Central Indiana, a breast cancer information and survivor support group; served on the board of the Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness Trust through 2007; and served as the Indiana Coordinator for the National Breast Cancer Coalition for six years. While serving in that capacity, she visited the White House three times during the Clinton administration.

Wood continues to serve on the board of the Catherine Peachey Fund, which funds breast cancer research programs, including the Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center, the first tissue bank of its kind in the world.

“Few other women have made such a difference in this community to raise awareness of breast cancer and impact the lives of so many who come face-to-face with this disease,” Curish said.

Wood was a founding member of the Spirit of Women Health Network nearly 15 years ago. “Spirit of Women hospitals offer a mix of health fairs, classes, services and social events that help women make healthy lifestyle changes,” Curish said.

“Michele has a track record as a crusader willing to take on big projects. She wants to know that what she does makes a difference. She takes to heart Komen’s core value—the power of one and the dynamic force of many.”

In 2010 Wood partnered with Denise Johnson Miller, M.D., to establish the Inaugural St. Francis Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. The first fundraiser raised $5,000. “Michele has been generous with her time and talents, contacts and resources—intangibles that are critical to a not-for-profit’s viability,” said Robert Brody, president and CEO, Franciscan St. Francis Health.

Wood’s intense focus on breast cancer might lead people to think that she is a breast cancer survivor, but that isn’t the case. She says her involvement had to do with being in the right place, at the right time, with the right credentials. “The issue of breast cancer became my passion and mission,” she said. “But that was only part of it. It was more the people I met and the stories I heard along the way. That’s what I was fighting for.”

In 2007 Wood received the Distinguished Hoosier Award from Gov. Mitch Daniels. Last year she was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Komen Pink Tie Ball, an honor she calls “humbling.”

After all she’s accomplished in her 38-year nursing career, Wood hopes she hasn’t yet made her biggest contribution to women’s health. “There is still a lot of work to be done,” she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

ADVERTISEMENT