Josh Fitzgibbon, system director of cancer care for Bronson Healthcare Group, is a lover of all things Southwest Michigan and cares for our community in big ways. Josh was a member of the 2015 cohort of Leadership Kalamazoo, the Southwest Michigan region’s premier leadership development program that started in 1987. The lessons and experiences from the program have shaped Josh’s leadership today, as he oversees the cancer care centers in both Kalamazoo and Battle Creek that provide high quality cancer care convenient and close to patients’ homes.
“Leadership Kalamazoo was a great opportunity,” said Josh. “It was a great opportunity to be able to learn alongside other people, which was very special.” Before the program, Josh had recently completed his MBA at Notre Dame in the executive education program and was missing the cohort learning experience. Joining the program helped him network with other leaders, connect with the community more deeply, and help him develop leadership skills that he still puts into practice at Bronson.
Serving and Leading in the Community
Josh not only leads a team of clinicians, providers, physicians, and supportive care team members, but he is an active leader and volunteer in the community. Josh serves as a Board Member at Hospice Care Southwest Michigan, is a parent ambassador at his kids’ school along with his wife, and his family also attends St. Thomas More Student Parish.
“I’ve benefited so much from the communities in Southwest Michigan and from the leaders that I’ve had a chance to learn with. For me, and for a lot of the people I met in Leadership Kalamazoo, I think that it’s important to give back by also mentoring and getting involved in community efforts,” said Josh. “Whether it’s serving on a board or just helping out, there are so many opportunities to volunteer.”
Mentoring and developing future leaders is another way that Josh serves the community. He served as a mentor in the First 50 mentorship program at Southwest Michigan First and regularly takes time to help others with their leadership development. “I encourage people to state their career goal and let people know what their goal is, because people really do want to help others achieve the goals that they set for themselves,” he said. “Even though those goals can change, it’s important to be stating it and letting people know what you’re shooting for.”
Love For Southwest Michigan
When Josh isn’t working out in the community, he enjoys soaking up all that our region has to offer, including a favorite hobby of his: trail running. Josh loves to explore the fantastic trails in the area, like the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Al Sabo, and the Kleinstuck Preserve. “Southwest Michigan is just a wonderful place,” he said. “It has great scenic beauty, engaged communities, and there are lots of opportunities for people in terms of both career and volunteer opportunities.”
Raising children in the area is another way that Josh’s heart grew for the community. “Our region is such a great environment with so many educational opportunities, amazing summer camps, and a lot of great places like the Air Zoo, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and different places like that,” he said.
Although his children are a new addition since participating in the Leadership Kalamazoo program, he was able to remember some of the important lessons from the program to help him balance the roles of being a parent and a leader. “One of the things we talked about a lot in the program was work-life balance and balancing priorities, which is an important factor in our careers,” said Josh.
A Positive Spin on Learning
One of the greatest reasons Josh enjoyed the Leadership Kalamazoo program was the focus on positivity and positive teamwork. Throughout the program, participants had many experiences to learn more about themselves and leading a team. For example, assessments like DiSC and CliftonStrengths helped participants focus on their skills, their strengths, and what makes them unique.
“To refine and hone our strengths and to learn how to utilize them to impact our community and our workplaces was a key feature of Leadership Kalamazoo,” said Josh. “I was really missing that cohort learning experience, so to be in a room with people and doing improv, listening to leadership speakers, and really refining our skills together was a very special opportunity. That’s why I chose to join Leadership Kalamazoo and why I would encourage other people to do the same thing,” he continued.
Josh even used his experiences in the program to help inform his work in his previous role at Bronson as the Director of Organizational Learning and Continuous Improvement. Bronson regularly brings groups of leaders together from across the organization to focus on leadership development, communication, team building, and other topics, which is partly inspired by the format of Leadership Kalamazoo, Josh stated.
Not Your Average Networking
The opportunity to network with other leaders in the program helped Josh make high-quality connections with other community leaders. “The others in the program were interesting, open, and willing to share about themselves and their careers and how they lead, which was a great environment to really be inspired by other people’s leadership styles and their openness,” he explained.
Josh created many relationships in the program that still continue to this day, even though it’s been six years since the program. “A lot of us wouldn’t have necessarily interacted with people from those different industries that were all brought together in the cohort,” said Josh. “When you have a chance to see how someone who works in the arts, for example, approaches a problem, or shares a leadership lesson, or alternatively how somebody who works in a large corporation approaches something, you really get to see a diversity of thought and experiences. This really equips leaders to be successful in a lot of different situations in the future.”
“The chance to network with a lot of really amazing individuals that were all making an impact in Southwest Michigan was really special,” Josh continued. Luckily, he still gets to connect with his classmates from time to time to continue cultivating these positive relationships. Josh credits Ed Freed, also a 2015 Leadership Kalamazoo alum, with keeping the group connected with occasional gatherings and discussions on leadership.
Leadership Kalamazoo, powered by Southwest Michigan First, is Southwest Michigan’s premier civic leadership development program that helps professionals build strengths, talents, knowledge, and relationships to succeed in ever-changing environments. This feature is part of FIRST & 42’s Leadership Kalamazoo Alumni in Action series brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.