She’s been dedicated to volunteerism at Huntington Hospital for 30 years, but Jaynie Studenmund recently saw the hospital through a more personal lens when her husband was admitted there three times in less than a month.
It’s an experience no one hopes to have, and thankfully, husband Woody is on the mend, but it’s given Studenmund a newfound respect for the institution, where she’s been a board member since 1998 and a “lifetime” trustee since 2011.
The experience helped bring home a message she’s long heard: Huntington’s medical staff really does make all the difference.
“An unintended consequence of spending so much time here has been seeing firsthand that our [E.R.] docs and nurses are pretty amazing. Our nurses have a level of dedication, warmth and expertise that is very heartwarming,” she said, noting that the medical staff gave her husband around-the-clock care, passing along vital information amid seamless shift changes. “I’m not an expert or a physician, and when you rely on the hospital to do its job … suddenly this is where rubber meets the road. The nurses were absolutely the best. This is hands down where I would have a family member go.”
Studenmund will take that bird’s-eye view with her as she begins a new era as chair of Huntington’s board of directors, having served on nearly every committee and, as the most recent vice chair, overseen the quality, strategy, compensation and CEO search committees. She replaces longtime board member Paul L. H. Ouyang, who retired at the end of March, as chair.
Dr. Lori Morgan, Huntington’s president/CEO, hailed Studenmund’s extensive, executive-level corporate track record.
“Jaynie brings a wealth of experience from an accomplished career in finance and management consulting to the role of board chair,” Morgan said. “Complemented by her long-standing service to the hospital, she holds our storied history with a lens focused toward the future. Her leadership helps carry forward our promise of world-class, compassionate community care — for generations to come.”
Studenmund’s experience includes a 40-year career combining management consulting, top executive roles in financial services and digital companies, and extensive public and nonprofit board service. In 20 years in the banking industry, she held executive positions for three of the nation’s largest financial institutions, managed 15 acquisitions and battled two hostile takeovers. Later, Studenmund shifted to the internet in its fledgling days, helping to build online bill management and pioneer search engine marketing, now a $60 billion industry.
As Huntington’s board chair, Studenmund said she now sees her role as continuing a legacy of accomplishment at the 125-year-old hospital.
“As chair I think it’s really important to recognize all the other people who have worked so hard here — there has been a legacy of great people who’ve been engaged with the hospital over time,” she said. “I really view it as getting passed a sacred baton, if you will, to do everything that we can as a board to support management team members, physicians and nurses, to really preserve what has made Huntington Hospital so extraordinary, a gem of the San Gabriel Valley, and also continue to make it relevant in the world of health care.”
Expounding on the “gem of the San Gabriel Valley,” Studenmund cited some of the hospital’s recent accolades, including being named as one of the top five hospitals in Los Angeles and the 10th best in California by U.S. News and World Report in 2018. It recently was ranked by Newsweek as one of the top 100 hospitals in the world in 2019, coming in at No. 83.
Perhaps an even better metric of success, noted Studenmund, is the Leapfrog Group’s 2018 Hospital Safety Grade — an A, recognizing Huntington’s efforts to protect patients and meet the highest safety standards in the U.S.
But the best way to know the hospital’s excellence is to be a patient here, she laughed, pointing to personal experience. Both of her children were born there, and as they grew up and became active and athletic, the family visited the emergency room more than a dozen times over the years.
But it was during her most recent visit that Studenmund said she had to learn to take a back seat during her husband’s care.
“I’ve always said that every patient needs an advocate, and I was there prepared to be just that … but honestly, what I found most of the time is that I just needed to sit back and let the staff do its job,” she said. “If I’d been someplace else, I think I would have had to step in as advocate in a more aggressive manner.”
Taking a back seat does not come easy to Studenmund. The Wellesley College and Harvard graduate led consumer strategy, marketing, product management and sales efforts and oversaw thousands of employees as a top executive in the nation’s three top retail banks, where she was widely recognized as a key player in the era of banking consolidation. Her pivot to the internet was spurred by her learning about the Pasadena-based start-up Idealab in the late 1990s.
“It just so happened that the internet was happening in my own backyard, and I remember thinking, ‘This is too important’ — I didn’t want it to pass me by,” she recalled. “I would have paid someone to teach me about the internet.”
As it turned out, they paid her. Studenmund’s extensive contacts, banking management and technology expertise were just what two young founders of PayMyBills needed. Together, they navigated a new world in online marketing and bill management. Later, she moved as COO to Overture Services, one of the first commercial search engines, which grew to 12 international markets and to $1.2 billion before selling to Yahoo. Along the way, she also worked at LifeLock, a pioneer in identity theft protection, and served as CEO at eHarmony in the early days of what is now a billion-dollar dating-website industry.
Studenmund credits timing and “super-talented people” for hitting success with the internet early on.
“One of my bosses early on said, ‘Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.’ … But luck is absolutely a big part of life. It was the early Wild West stages of the internet, and being able to take a part in that Wild West was exciting. Exhausting, but exciting.”
Fellow Huntington board member and lifetime trustee Michelle Chino worked with Studenmund years ago at Overture, and said she expects the board chair to use her extensive contacts and network to help lead Huntington to a new future.
“Jaynie has very broad yet very deep leadership experience. She’s incredibly bright, and her ability to grasp and assimilate complex information is amazing,” said Chino. “Health care in and of itself is complex. Jaynie is super inquisitive, she’s able to sift through information and ask the right questions; she’s bold. She’s not afraid to ask the hard questions to push the thinking forward and out of the box. She is just the right person at the right time to be board chair right now. … Pushing the envelope is kind of what is needed.”
Working to help keep Huntington Hospital relevant in health care’s increasingly complex world may require fast, smart pivots, Studenmund noted. The hospital is working to expand partnerships and purchasing agreements with other major hospitals to save on overhead costs as well as increasing the hospital’s reach through an emergency room alliance with Exer Urgent Care. Exer will provide the facility and billing management, whereby Huntington will provide its team of doctors and nurses. Currently, there is just one new facility in Pasadena, but more are in the works.
Studenmund’s daughter, Connell, is a first-year medical student, and she couldn’t help but mention Huntington’s deep teaching ties with USC Keck School of Medicine and UCLA without thinking of her. And might there be a day when her little girl comes home to roost at the hospital? “Would it be my dream? Yes!” she laughed.
Volunteering at the hospital has been a decades-long passion for Studenmund (“Is there anything more important than to take care of someone’s health?” she asked), but the formidable executive also serves on other boards, including those of Forest Lawn, Western Asset Management, Flintridge Prep and the Enduring Heroes foundation, in which she became involved after her son, Scott, a Green Beret, was killed in Afghanistan in 2014.
Studenmund helped Enduring Heroes bring a permanent tribute statue on Defenders Parkway in Pasadena that is dedicated to local soldiers who have given their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror.
Enduring Heroes founder Shelly Lowe recalled Studenmund’s efforts to help the memorial push forward in just three years. After her son’s death, she also dedicated her help toward his Green Beret comrades and his friends.
“Jaynie is a real dynamo at everything she decides to do — anything she does is always 100%,” Lowe said. “Everybody handles tragedy differently but even how she handled the loss of Scott, it was extraordinary. She focused on being positive for other people, helping others, she was instrumental in helping us bring the Enduring Heroes Monument to Pasadena; she’s a very giving person and remains very generous.”
“Huntington Hospital is a real passion of hers; they’re so lucky to have her,” she added.