Kathi Pressley, CMRP, FAHRMM
Director, Materials Management, Olympic Medical Center, Port Angeles, WA
Joined AHRMM in 1996
“Oh the places you’ll go!” This Dr. Seuss quote is Kathi Pressley’s favorite, which makes perfect sense once you get to know this enthusiastic, positive-thinking, “the sky’s the limit!” materials management director. While Kathi definitely has a passion for supply chain management, she is equally passionate about friends, family, holistic activities, exercising, reading… After talking to her, you get the distinct impression she is a woman who truly understands that life is short – and is intent on making each moment count.
One of the ways this intention is made manifest is through her involvement with AHRMM. Kathi has long been active in her local chapter in Washington state – WSHMMA – but after receiving her CMRP, and along with other WSHMMA-ites, making a group pledge to make their presence a national one, Kathi became involved in her first AHRMM committee. And it was truly the first of many! Since joining AHRMM in 1996, Kathi has served on the Membership & Chapter Committee, AHRMM Sustainability Task Force, AHA-Certification Center, as Chair of the FAHRMM Committee, and as the Chair and two-time member of the Conference Education Committee. Kathi also served a 3-year term on the AHRMM board of directors. After serving on the board, many members take a break – it is a fairly demanding three year commitment, but Kathi believes strongly in education and felt that she had learned so much from her time on the AHRMM board that she resolved to take that those experiences and insight back into committee work.
She had never envisioned herself sitting on the national board for her profession, but Mike Lortie, a former AHRMM board member and consummate volunteer, was a strong influence in Kathi’s decision to run for the board. In turn, she encouraged Mary Beth Lang to run, who went on to become the board’s Chair. “It’s all a part of professional development and career advancement,” said Kathi. “We all start small and build. We receive, we pass it on, we get, we give back… it turns into a nice cycle.”
Kathi has had several mentors, Mike Lortie among them. It is difficult for Kathi to single out any one person as a mentor; key influencers have appeared at “just the right points” in her life. They range from world leaders to Albert Schweitzer, the missionary doctor, to “the three Mary’s” (three different women, all named Mary who impressed Kathi and informed her thinking and way of being) to Mike, whom she describes as “a true gentleman, who was a forward-thinker, cared about his own and others’ personal and professional growth.” The three Mary’s were a generation older than Kathi – wise women, curious about life – they raised thoughtful questions, were excellent listeners, and constantly challenged others’ perspectives. “Looking at them in the aggregate, I can say that my key influencers are basically people who have inspired me by their dedication to leading a good and meaningful life.”
Originally trained as a paramedic, Kathi spent two years as an EMT, but has been working in supply chain at Olympic Medical Center for over 25 years. She started as a buyer and was promoted throughout the years until she became the director. She has over 30 years’ experience in supply chain management. At Olympic, Kathi oversees material management, central service operations, the docucenter, and biomed, and most recently sterile processing; she is responsible for supporting a team of individuals who purchase, create, distribute, and process supplies, instrumentation, devices, equipment and services for healthcare patients and care providers. Her favorite part of the job is making the ultimate deal that benefits all parties. “I love finding the best value product, providing a needed service, putting the right individuals, product, and services together beyond expectations. It doesn’t matter whether I am brokering a million dollar deal for imaging equipment or buying Band-Aids!”
Working with people who do not understand the intricacies of supply chain presents Kathi with the greatest challenge in her job. It requires the ability to view the big picture as well as being able to get down into the weeds. She believes supply chain professionals are really facilitators more than logisticians - that supply chain is relational, synergistic. “People are so key in supply chain,” says Kathi. “I focus on the people and the relationship first and foremost. If I focus on the relationship initially, I have a much better chance of meeting their needs with the service and product.”
Of her AHRMM activities, serving on the Board stands out as one of her most memorable experiences. It allowed her to see the diversity around supply chain operations in our country, and opened her heart and mind to new perspectives. She appreciated that everyone was part of the same profession, yet came from vastly different places and experiences, and therefore, often wanted to see projects develop or play out in very different ways. Chairing the Annual Conference Education Committee was also significant for Kathi. It forced her out of her natural shyness, and both roles required her to step outside of her comfort zone. But once she did, she found it deeply satisfying to know that people actually really want to support you and want you to succeed. And, almost universally, people are here because they want to learn! She regards it as a privilege to contribute and be a part of that.
Kathi relies most heavily on Supply Chain Strategies & Solutions articles, Listserv, white papers, and the Sustainability Roadmap PIMs to leverage supply chain processes. And the one AHRMM tool Kathi “cannot do without”? The weekly e-newsletter.
Meeting new people, mutual pollination of ideas, and providing opportunities to grow and elevate other healthcare professionals is the best part of being involved in AHRMM as far as Kathi is concerned. The thing that keeps her coming back year after year is the organization’s focus on providing opportunities for supply chain individuals to realize their professional expectations and potential.
When she is not working or volunteering at a local free clinic, Kathi enjoys reading – historical fiction, biographies, science magazines, new discoveries, medicine and health – but true science fiction & travel may be her favorite genre (“I would love to go to other worlds. I am intrigued by the possibility and potential to create a society within a different environment. This is much closer to reality than ever before!”). She is also a committed yogi, loves hiking, biking, swimming, and…the wind. Not too surprising for such a free spirit.