About Us

Baird Group, Inc. is a results-oriented consulting group specializing in customer service improvement and mystery shopping for healthcare organizations. The Baird Group delivers insightful observations, customized service strategies, and training. Since 1991, it has provided healthcare clients with targeted solutions for customer-service challenges. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and visit our blog for weekly tips, articles, and valuable healthcare information.

Kristin Baird, RN, BSN, MHA, President/CEO

Kristin Baird, RN, BSN, MHA, President

 With over thirty years of experience in patient care, healthcare marketing, business development, and administration, Kristin Baird is a talented speaker and consultant with a passion for service excellence. President of the Baird Group, Kristin earned a bachelor of science in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master's in Health Services Administration from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, WI.

Kristin is the author of You Make the Call! Healthcare’s mandate for post-discharge follow up (Golden Lamp Press, 2012), Raising the Bar on Service Excellence: The health care leader's guide to putting passion into practice (Golden Lamp Press, 2008), Reclaiming the Passion: Stories that celebrate the essence of nursing (Golden Lamp Press, 2004), and Customer Service in Health Care: A grassroots approach to creating a culture of service excellence (Jossey Bass and American Hospital Association Publishing, 2000).

Kristin is also the creator of "Raising the Bar on Service Excellence: Step by Step," a five-part Web series designed to help healthcare leaders implement the five essential competencies for building a service-centered culture. She has worked with hundreds of healthcare clients, including hospitals, medical practices, and long-term care facilities to improve the customer experience.

Kristin received an appointment from the Secretary of Health in 2009 to serve on the National Advisory Council for the National Health Service Corps. Her work in Washington is consistent with her passion for excellence. She brings her talent in customer service and marketing to assist the NHSC in serving the underserved. 

Consulting Division

Janet Schulz, MBA, FACHE, Senior Vice President, Consulting Division

Janet Schulz, Sr. VP Consulting

Janet Schulz brings to her consulting work over thirty years of healthcare leadership, management, and training experience. She has held diverse roles in hospital and health system settings, including strategic planning, hospital operations, information services, materials management, structure and process integration, medical staff services, quality/patient safety, service excellence, marketing/communications, and more. She has extensive background in the design and delivery of patient-centered tactics to improve service and enhance the patient experience. She provides practical skills and integrated plans that help individuals and organizations consistently and sustainably enhance their service and culture.

Janet's experience comes from work at ProHealth Care (Waukesha, WI), Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Hospital (Milwaukee, WI), and the Medical College of Wisconsin. She is a skilled facilitator and a Certified Change Agent.

She earned an undergraduate degree in News-Editorial Journalism from Marquette University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Kimberly Illg, BS, Consultant

Kim Illg, BS, Consultant

Kimberly Illg brings to her consulting role twenty years of varied work with robust career in both healthcare and retail. Her healthcare skills include healthcare quality management and operations, strategic planning, instructional design and complaint / complement operations and management. Her retail skills include marketing and CRM program management.

Kim worked for seven years at Mayo Clinic in Rochester as a Patient Experience Coordinator in the Office of Patient Experience. In that role, her work included reactive patient experience work which involved complaints and complements management, reporting and root cause analysis, as well as proactive patient experience work including patient satisfaction data analysis and improvement along with patient family advisory councils programming. In this role, Kim earned Silver Certification in the Mayo Clinic Quality Academy as faculty, instructor and course director. Kim’s consulting experience includes clinical and non-clinical departments as well as large and small divisions within a health system setting.

Kim earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from Mankato State University in Management and Marketing. She is currently pursuing her Master in Health Administration with St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Additionally, Kim has been certified as a 2012 Baldrige Evaluator by the Minnesota Baldrige Performance Excellence Program with special focus on Category 3 (evaluation and improvement). 

Whitney Ashby, BBA, MBA, Business Development Manager

Whitney Ashby, BBA, MBA, Business Development Manager

Whitney Ashby joined Baird Group in July 2014 and is responsible for all business development activities. Whitney is an enthusiastic manager and brings over seven years of experience in healthcare sales and marketing. She is passionate about helping organizations improve their patients' experience and has been in this unique area of healthcare since the beginning of her career. Some of Whitney’s job functions include: lead generation, management of all consulting and mystery shopping sales opportunities, contract negotiations, and marketing.

Whitney earned her undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and a Master’s in Business Administration from Saint Leo University. 

Kevin Stranberg, Senior Consultant

Kevin Stranberg, Senior Consultant

Kevin Stranberg is a skilled strategist, trainer, and facilitator. Kevin helps our healthcare clients understand the customer perspective when tackling service and culture issues. Kevin began working in healthcare in 1994 as Director of Public Relations for Memorial Medical Center in Ashland, WI where he spearheaded a successful customer-service initiative. He joined Baird Group in 2004. In addition to his work with Baird Group, Kevin is an adjunct instructor for Northland College, where he teaches courses on leadership and strategic planning.

Kevin has served in leadership roles of many local, state, and national boards of directors, including the Wisconsin Health Care Public Relations and Marketing Society where he served terms as President, Treasurer, and District Representative. Kevin is currently serving a term on the board for the Society of Health Care Strategy and Market Development (AHA affiliate).

Linda Pophal, MA, ABC, SPHR, Consultant

Linda Pophal, M.A., ABC, SPHR - Consultant

Linda Pophal has more than twenty-five years of experience in strategic communications management, specializing in strategic planning and the coordination of communication activities across multiple channels—internal and external—including traditional and new media.

Pophal served as the director of corporate communications for Mayo Clinic Health System-Eau Claire from 1996 – 2007 and continues to work with healthcare organizations on strategic planning and communication management.

She is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Strategic Planning (Penguin, 2011) and has served as a National Baldrige Examiner and Wisconsin Forward Award Examiner. Pophal is a lecturer in the communication/journalism and marketing/management departments at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

She is certified through the American Marketing Association (PCM), Society for Human Resource Management (SPHR), and International Association of Business Communicators (ABC).

Tom Ludwig, RN, MBA, FACMPE, Consultant

Tom Ludwig specializes in medical practice operations and management. Tom brings a wealth of experience to the Baird Group by helping medical practices improve the patient experience. He has been on the front lines of healthcare delivery as an operating room technician, medical assistant, staff nurse, and administrator. He has over thirty years of experience in the ambulatory setting, most often with large multispecialty clinics. Tom has also served as COO for a Federally Qualified Health Center, and currently serves a clinical reviewer for FQHC technical assistance assignments. He has extensive experience in clinic operations management, with expertise in strategic and business planning, process improvement, workflow efficiency and supervisory training. His work in advanced access has been instrumental in improving the patient experience.

Tom is a graduate of St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in Marshfield, WI, and has a bachelor of science and masters of business administration degrees from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, WI. He is a member of the MGMA-ACMPE and Wisconsin MGMA. He previously served on the MGMA Board of Directors and currently serves on the ACMPE Certification Commission. Tom is a Board Certified Medical Practice Executive and a Fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives. 

Jason B. Ruda, BS, MS, Consultant

Jason Ruda, Consultant

Jason Ruda brings his expertise in physician practice management and ambulatory operations to his consulting work with the Baird Group. His hands-on experience in patient flow analysis, operations, human resource management, as well as leadership development and corporate training are assets in working with a variety of the healthcare organizations served by the Baird Group. Prior to joining the Baird Group, Jason worked with a variety of organizations, including the Beth Israel Medical Center/Mount Sinai Health System, EPIC, Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian, and the Guthrie Clinic. Jason’s stellar interpersonal skills are a result of having worked with diverse groups of people in a variety of settings. Jason’s focus, energy, and ability to motivate others inspire measurable results in performance improvement. Before becoming a consultant with Baird, Jason was instrumental in implementing the Baird Model in a Pennsylvania health system and generated significant service improvements in a cardiovascular service line.

Jason received his Bachelors of Science in accounting from Susquehanna University (Selinsgrove, PA) and his Masters of Science in health services management from Elmira College (Elmira, NY). He is currently a member of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), the Wisconsin MGMA, the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the Health Leaders of New York (HLNY), and the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

Diane Ball, BSN, MSED, Consultant

Diane Ball, Consultant

Diane Ball is a skilled consultant, trainer and group facilitator. She comes to the Baird Group with over 35 of years of nursing, leadership, and healthcare experience. Her diverse background includes critical care nursing, cardiac rehab nursing, staff and patient education, complimentary therapies, business development, leadership and patient centered care. 

Ball served as the patient centered champion at Delnor hospital between 2005-2010 and successfully implemented the Planetree model of patient-centered care which achieved the Gold Designation status. She consulted for Planetree from 2010-2013 and authored three articles in their PlaneTalk Magazine on breaking down organizational silos, building patient advisory councils, self-care using heart focused stress management and a web paper titled “Walking in the Patient’s Shoes.”

She has earned her BSN at Kent State University and MSEd from Northern Illinois University. 

Mary Lodes, RN, BSN, MBA, Consultant 

Diane Ball, Consultant

The clinical and patient experience consulting insights of Mary Lodes were gained over thirty-five years of nursing practice and leadership. She began her career as a pediatric nurse, and then gained additional experience in medical/surgical nursing settings. Beyond her direct caregiving expertise, Mary earned certifications in both nursing management and administration. Her management of nursing units ultimately led to her position as Vice President/Chief Nurse Executive at Waukesha Memorial Hospital (Wisconsin), a role in which she served for twelve years.

Mary's critical thinking and ability to quickly analyze a care setting's effectiveness make her a valuable partner to Baird Group clients seeking to improve both clinical quality and service. She provides practical guidance for immediate planning and action.

Mary earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Nicole Nicoloff, Consultant 

Nicole Nicoloff brings over 15 years of healthcare experience to her consulting role at Baird Group. Most recently, she served as the Vice President of Consulting Services for Stericycle Communications Solutions Division (a division created by the acquisition of BerylHealth). The division focused on providing industry-leading solutions for patient care transitions and communication between physicians, hospitals and patients. 

Before joining BerylHealth, Nicoloff served as Network Director of the Exceptional Patient and Family Experience for Community Health Network (CHN), the second largest healthcare network in Indiana. She served in the organization for 11 years.

While working for CHN, Nicole’s focus was dedicated to creating a brand experience for patients and family members served by Community Health Network, which ranks among the top 10 most integrated healthcare networks in the nation. Nicoloff was integral in the design of a 270 million dollar facility expansion dedicated to women and children, including a 36-bed pediatrics unit. CHN was also one of first health systems in the Midwest to dedicate specialized women’s and children’s care congruently, including a 60 bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, 72 bed LDRP unit and a 36 bed Maternal-Fetal Medicine unit. 

Angie Broich, BBA, Office Manager & Executive Assistant to President/CEO

Angie Broich is the Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the President/CEO and Senior Vice President of Baird Group. She brings a combination of 10 years of experience in office administration and management, customer service, account management, and information technology. She is responsible for organizing, maintaining, and coordinating all office operations and services thus enabling Baird Group to be successful in helping their clients fulfill their mission. In addition, she maintains the website, administers project support, assists with proposal preparation, data management, and accounting operations.

Prior to joining Baird Group, Angie has worked in Information Technology with Harley-Davidson, as a Senior Account Administrator with Aptar, and as a Business Office Manager/Project Coordinator for NASCO. Her wealth of experience and knowledge has contributed in making her an integral member of the team at Baird Group.

Angie graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Computer End-User Technologies.

Mary-Ellen Pichè, CPHQ, FACHE, Consultant

Mary Ellen Piche

Mary-Ellen Pichè provides a breadth of services to healthcare organizations including organizational assessment/development, coaching and training. Previously she was a consultant with Planetree Inc.in Derby, Connecticut, and CEO at the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., where she participated in national crisis leadership and new employee orientation initiatives. She is a faculty member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Mary-Ellen serves as the President of the Board of Directors of Historic Albany Foundation, President of the Board of Trustees of Albany Public Library Systems, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the University at Albany’s Center for Women in Government and Civil Society. She is a frequent lecturer at upstate New York colleges and universities on the topic of patient centered care.

Angela Fieler, MPA, CMQ/OE, Consultant

Angela Fieler

Angela Fieler is a skilled consultant focused on strategic planning, leadership development, operational excellence, customer service, training, and facilitation. Her consulting practices are founded on thirty years of experience in the healthcare arena, including operations, quality improvement, customer service, data analysis, human resources, public relations, and direct patient care. Angela has extensive experience consulting with clients on how to improve their relationships with patients, employees, and physicians.

Angela earned her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from St. Leo College in Saint Leo, FL and her MPA from George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia). She received over 120 hours of training in quality improvement theory and practice from the U.S. Navy and is a Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence with the American Society for Quality. Angela has facilitated many clinical and operational quality improvement projects. 

Mystery Shopping Division

Stacy Cavegn, Director, Mystery Shopping Division

Stacy Wagner, Mystery Shopping Director

Stacy Cavegn is an accomplished manager with over fifteen years of experience in customer service and account management. Stacy leads the mystery shopping division at the Baird Group, overseeing thousands of mystery shops each year for healthcare organizations across the country. She has personally completed hundreds of mystery shops in the course of her career, gaining greater insight into the art and science of medical mystery shopping. Prior to joining the Baird Group in 2008, Stacy worked in management for Enterprise, Geico, and Remedy Staffing. 

Stacy is directly involved in the recruiting and training of mystery shoppers throughout the US. She speaks regularly at mystery shopping conferences about mystery shopping in the healthcare industry. She is both Gold and Silver Certified by the MSPA, and is a member of the Society of Health Care Strategy and Market Development as well as the Wisconsin Health Care Public Relations and Marketing Society.

Stacy earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. 

Bridget Nsibirwa, Project Coordinator

Bridget Nsibirwa, Project Coordinator

Prior to joining the Baird Group, Bridget worked in human resources for Watertown Area Health Services, specializing in recruitment. Bridget first worked for the Baird Group from 2004 to 2006 in marketing and returned in 2011 as a project coordinator.

She has over eleven years of experience as a CNA.

Bridget holds degrees in Journalism and Education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.


Kate Smillie, Project Coordinator

Kate Smillie, Project Coordinator

Kate Smillie is a Project Coordinator for the Baird Group’s Mystery Shopping Division. Kate joined the Baird Group in November of 2012. She brings with her over 20 years of customer service and account management expertise.

Kate works directly with clients to help determine their goals and objectives for their projects, and she guides them throughout the course of the project. Her strong skillset in data analysis and critical thinking ensures a thorough deliverable to each and every client.

 Aly Turcotte, Project Coordinator

Aly Turcotte, Project Coordinator

She provides over 10 years of a medical background to the team. Previous to working with Baird, she worked as Certified Nursing Assistant, Telemetry Technician and Unit Secretary for St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, WI. She also has previous experience working as a consultant for a company that contracted with the State of Wisconsin to improve healthcare for state aid participants. 

Lindsay Frank, Scheduler, Recruiter, & Quality Assurance Specialist

Lindsay Frank, Project Assistant

Lindsay Frank is the Scheduler and Recruiter for Baird Group’s Mystery Shopping Division. She recruits for and certifies our shoppers, creates the shops, and then schedules the shops according to each project’s unique standards and timeline. As a Quality Assurance Specialist, she then communicates with shoppers daily in order to ensure deliverables of the highest quality. 

Lindsay graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Operations Management with an emphasis on Project Management. She joined the Baird Group in June of 2013 as a Project Assistant and moved into the scheduling role in January of  2015.

Elisabeth Callahan, Project Assistant II

Elisabeth Callahan, Project Report Specialist

Elisabeth Callahan helps to ensure the successful completion of culture assessment projects by assisting in the design, collection, and interpretation of quantitative and qualitative data.

Along with helping Baird deliver the highest quality results to clients, Elisabeth provides administrative support by improving operations, streamlining work processes, and managing shopping databases.

Prior to joining the Baird Group, Elisabeth worked as a reporter for Marketing and Media Relations of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Elisabeth earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology with a minor in English Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

In addition to working at Baird Group, Elisabeth also works as a research assistant for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Center for Urban Initiatives and Research and is currently pursuing her master's degree in Sociology with a focus on health IT from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Yolanda Riddell, Quality Assurance Specialist

Yolanda Riddell, Scheduler and Quality Assurance Specialist

Yolanda Riddell has a passion for customer service and brings that into her role as Quality Assurance Specialist within the mystery shopping division. She helps provide shoppers with the tools they need to become successful mystery shoppers for Baird.

Prior to joining the Baird Group, Yolanda held a training and organizational development position with Summit Credit Union for nine years, focusing on member service, culture improvement, and soft-skills enhancement initiatives.

She earned her bachelor's degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Mandy Hunt, Quality Assurance Specialist

Mandy Hunt, Quality Assurance Specialist

Mandy Hunt is a quality assurance specialist within the medical mystery shopping team and helps assure the highest standards in data collection and documentation. Mandy has more than ten years of experience in the healthcare industry, including over seven years working in quality assurance for Wisconsin Physicians Services (WPS) Health Insurance, TRICARE division. Mandy has experience as a data security analyst within the Medicare division of WPS Health Insurance.



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