The MASHSMD Lifetime Excellence Award for Dedication (LEAD) is given to one or more recipients who have contributed throughout their professional career to the field of healthcare marketing, communications, business development, and/or public relations. Recipients receive this award at the MASHSMD annual conference and are forever recognized on the organization’s website.

This award honors outstanding leaders who have contributed to the field of health care strategy, including marketers, strategic planners, business developers, and communications/PR leaders—individuals who are truly exemplars of the strategy professions and can demonstrate a career of stellar achievement.



  • Must work or have worked in an organization serving a MASHSMD member state: Virginia, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, or New Jersey. 
  • Ten or more years of experience in healthcare marketing and communications — marketing, communications/PR/social media, business development, or physician marketing strategies.
  • Nominees may not currently serve on the MASHSMD Board; however, past MASHSMD Board members may be nominated.
  • Previous LEAD winners are not eligible.


Nominees’ career achievements will be judged by the MASHSMD Board on the following criteria:

  • Innovation: Demonstrated creativity, diversity of thought, and nimbleness to respond to and proactively anticipate changes in the healthcare landscape.
  • Enhancement of the profession: Participated in professional organizations; frequent author of articles in local, national, and/or trade publications; and public speaking appearances at conferences, events, and/or webinars.
  • Career achievements and leadership: Exhibited significant career progression with increasingly more significant leadership roles throughout her/his career.
  • Exceptional stewardship: Expressed integrity; ability to motivate and mentor others; commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and represented the values of our profession to people in other fields and the community’s healthcare organizations serve. 

Nomination Process

To nominate a colleague for the LEAD Award, please send their name, a brief explanation about how they have met or exceeded the criteria for the award, and any other pertinent nomination information to [email protected].

Our 2024 LEAD Award winner is Diane Caslow

Diane CaslowAfter graduating from Boston University with an Occupational Therapy degree, Diane began her first career as an occupational therapist in pediatrics at what is now the Kennedy-Kreiger Institute, part of the Johns Hopkins Health System. She worked in adult day care, home care and as a hand therapist while then pursuing a master’s in public administration with a concentration in health policy at the University of Baltimore.

Her professional career has been primarily in strategic planning for what is now the MedStar Health system in the Baltimore-Washington region. She started as a planning analyst at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital and was promoted to Director of Planning and Marketing. She had a short stint at St. Joseph Medical Center as the Vice President of Planning, Marketing and Public Relations before returning to Good Samaritan Hospital as it was preparing to merge into Helix Health. She became the first Vice President of Planning for Helix Health. Three years later, Helix Health merged with Medlantic Health to form MedStar Health. Diane was promoted to the Vice President of Strategic and Business Planning and served in that role for 24 years. In her role, she led the strategic planning, business planning, consumer insights and market research, and community health functions for the system.

Retiring from MedStar Health, she has been focusing on her “Third Act” or the “Rethrivement” phase of her career.

Her career journey has also been one of a commitment to professional development:

  • Maryland Society for Health Care Planning and Marketing (a predecessor organization to MASHSMD)
  • AHA - Society of Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD)
  • Urban Land Institute’s Washington District Council Leadership Program
  • ULI National Health Leaders Program

An additional commitment of Diane's has been one of community board service:

  • Preservation Maryland, Return Home Baltimore with past board service across health, education, and the arts.



Past Winners

Eric Fletcher (2023) 


Eric Fletcher

As a journalism student in college, Eric found himself in hospital settings quite frequently for personal reasons. As a result of this time observing interactions between frontline staff, doctors and patients, he chose to begin his healthcare career at High Point Regional Hospital in North Carolina before even finishing his degree.

In his professional work, he tries to remember that there is a patient somewhere that we are trying to get well, to get back to their family and there is a noble mission in that — not everyone has that in their work, and getting to do so is fulfilling and rewarding. 

“We may not spend enough time talking about or focusing on the overall purpose of why we are here. At the end of the day, we all have jobs and roles, and make a living because there is a patient suffering. The most important lesson I’ve learned in my career is how to partner well with other stakeholders, like physicians, administrators, front line staff, politicians, community organizations, and community leaders. Having good conversations is critical to doing his job,” says Fletcher. 

When asked what professional accomplishment he is most proud of, he said, “On the marketing side, when you land on the right brand for an organization, that feels great. You can see it within the organization when certain people embrace it and take hold of it and start incorporating it into their actions. It becomes theirs, they are waving the banner, not because Marketing asked them to do it, they believe the message. On the marketing side, that is ultimately one of the best feelings.” 

“On the strategy side, being able to work with physicians who have gotten to that point in their career that they are tired of dealing with HIPAA compliance, and billing compliance, and with HR, and all these things that they must deal with in their practice. And they come to us, and they say: I just want to practice medicine, what can you do for me? I see them after some time and they say: ‘This is so much better than before, I can now do what I went to school to do, what I learned to do, what I was meant to do, without having to worry about all the other things.’ That is a very rewarding part of the job.” 

Eric is passionate about serving others and has volunteered throughout his career in various organizations, including Moss Free Clinic, Living Water Clinic, Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce, Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area and youth baseball, among others. 

He believes that the regional SHSMD programs are critical to the healthcare industry as a vehicle to bring hospital systems together with the vendors and agencies that service the industry. Originally involved in the Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society (CPHRMS), he also led the merger of the Virginia and Maryland SHSMD chapters as the first President of the Mid-Atlantic Society of Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (MASHSMD). 

Eric received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and earned a master’s in business administration from Elon University. His professional leadership roles have included:

  • Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Mary Washington Healthcare
  • Chief Marketing and Business Intelligence Officer, High Point Regional Health System

His accreditations include:

  • Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE)
  • Lean Six Sigma, North Carolina State University
  • Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Program Alumni, Judge and Master Examiner, National Institute of Standards and Technology


Jean Hitchcock (2022)

Jean HitchcockJean is a visionary marketing and public relations leader blending consulting and corporate experience. Over her 25+ years in health care marketing and communications on the provider and consultant side, she has built lasting relationships in—and deep knowledge of—all aspects of the healthcare and hospital industry.

 “Through her experience, leadership roles, writing, and speaking engagements, Jean has always been a strong advocate for bringing the patient's voice to internal and external communication and marketing discussions,” said Brond.

 Jean is widely regarded as a national expert in developing and implementing brand management programs, marketing plans, physician engagement strategies, department assessments, crisis communication plans, and marketing training for staff and physicians. She has held senior leadership roles and served as a consultant for various organizations, including academic medical centers, multi-hospital systems, physician groups, and community hospitals in rural and urban settings. Her senior leadership roles have included:

  • VP, Marketing, Communications, and Physician Relations, Phoenix Children's Hospital
  • President, Hitchcock Marketing & Communications
  • Corporate Vice President, Public Affairs and Marketing, MedStar Health
  • Corporate Vice President, Scripps Health
  • Principal/ Vice President, Rynne Marketing Group
  • Corporate Director of Communications, OhioHealth
  • Corporate Director of Communications, Spectrum Health

Jean received her bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from Hunter College, earned a master’s in public administration from Western Michigan University, and completed the Executive Management of Healthcare Leadership Program at the University of Michigan.