Embracing Opportunity With Courage
A Profile of Donna Mueller
Phenomenal leader. Inspiring. Driven. While Donna Mueller is too humble to admit these things about herself, she exemplifies these traits in every role she holds.
Infinity Rehab was just getting started when she joined the team in 2001. She came on board to help develop a sales pipeline and drive the business. At the time, Infinity was a $2 million company in just one state.
Nine years later, in 2010 Donna extended her role as Vice President of Sales and Marketing to all the ancillary divisions. And only a year later, she assumed the same role over the entire Avamere Family of Companies.
New opportunities, new challenges
In 2018 Donna was named Executive Vice President of Strategy and Innovation with Avamere. With this new title, she took on four of the six priorities the Avamere Family of Companies will be working towards between 2019 and 2021.
The four priorities she manages include: continuum of care, payer strategy, reimbursement, and quality. As the executive sponsor of these priorities, she ensures the work continues forward, the goals are realistic, and that they can be achieved within the decided time frame.
“There are cross-company teams of people working on these initiatives, and these people are very talented,” she said. “I’m here to keep everybody on track.”
These priorities, along with the related organizational changes, bring challenges. Donna faces the future with confidence. Her extensive experience in a developmental role allowed her to disrupt the way things have always been.
“I’m no stranger to upsetting the status quo,” Donna said. “That’s my job – to change the way we’ve always done things – to move us in new directions.”
Donna has no fear in facing the future. In fact, she admits she lost her fear long ago.
“Losing fear takes a muscle,” she said. “Do the hard work. Have the difficult conversations. I think that’s what makes me fit to serve.”
Grow with opportunity, don’t let it falter you
Donna takes opportunity with both its glory and challenges and uses it to benefit her team and the entire company.
Over the past seven years, Donna has watched how reimbursement and payment models change and now helps position the company to take advantage of those payment changes. One of these opportunities is the Bundled Payment for Care Improvement program with Medicare. As a part of this program, Avamere bears full financial risk for 90-day post-acute episodes of care. Donna helped lead the company to great success in this program.
Donna believes you can either grow with opportunity or you can let it hold you back. To explain this, she shares a story of two cattle ranchers.
Two ranchers with neighboring farms hear plans of a railroad track to be built right through the good grazing grass. They wrote letters to try and stop the construction, but the railroad plans moved forward. Trains started coming through several times a day.
The ranchers’ cows became skinny and ill because they wouldn’t cross the tracks to graze on the good grass. The first rancher trades in his ranch cows for dairy cows. He makes ice cream and sells it to the train conductors.
The second rancher continued to write letters with no success. The first rancher built something based on the opportunity, even though it changed his way of life. The second rancher, on the other hand, had to sell his ranch to the first rancher, who then built a saloon and hotel on the property.
“We have to prepare for the train coming,” Donna said. “You can either thrive or dry up and blow away.”
Becoming a leader
Over the years, Donna has held several leadership roles, but she didn’t start out at the top.
“I was not offered top positions everywhere I went,” Donna said. “I worked hard, saw opportunity, and took advantage of opportunity.”
She encourages others who are striving to move up in their career to keep going, keep doing good, and push out the negative thoughts.
“Don’t be your own worst enemy,” she said. “Learn from the past, but don’t live in the past.”
She stresses to focus on what you can do – what you are able to affect. That’s how you become successful in your career and in your life.
Leaders gain strength from their team
As someone who has been a leader for the past 18 years, Donna is humble.
“We are not superstars in our own mind,” Donna said of herself and her fellow leadership team. “It’s the people around us that make us compelling leaders. We cannot be successful on our own.”
We are not superstars in our own mind.
Behind these great leaders are great people doing amazing work in every area within the Avamere Family of Companies.
“We are human beings delivering intimate bedside care to other human beings through a vast group of human beings,” Donna said. “In this industry, you can’t succeed unless you have a human touch.”
Peaceful, healthy balance
Everyone knows the importance of work-life balance. Donna perfectly encapsulates this ideal into her personal goal that she calls a peaceful, healthy balance. She meditates twice a day for 20 minutes each session, exercises 150 minutes a week, rides her motorcycle three times a month, and camps with her husband once a month.
Doing these activities helps her return to work with a clear mind. In doing so, she can effectively lead her team and the company forward to embrace opportunity and change together.
Get to know Donna more – check out her bio!