About Us

Baird Group 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, MHA, BSN, RN, 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.

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.

Kevin Stranberg, CPXP, Senior Consultant

Kevin Stranberg

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). 

Mary Lodes, MBA, BSN, RN, Consultant 

Mary Lodes, 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.

Diane Ball, MSED, BSN, 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-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.

Barbara Mangiafico, MSN, BSN, RN, BCAPN, Consultant

Barbara Mangiafico

An accomplished healthcare leader, Barbara brings more than 35 years of experience in hospital operational leadership, nursing education, leading, and motivating change. Through firsthand knowledge gained as a clinical nurse specialist in critical care, cardiology and geriatric practice, manager of several inpatient and outpatient departments, and a hospital quality leader, Barbara has developed a keen understanding of the contemporary leadership skills needed to provide excellent patient care and nursing practice environment. She has successfully implemented process changes for improving patient satisfaction and patient outcomes through knowledge of evidence-based practice standards and effective patient communication strategies. 

Barbara has served Alverno College as member of nursing Graduate Board, Wisconsin Nurses Association as chair of several State Councils, and two time President District 16. She was elected Secretary Wisconsin CNS Association and awarded State Nurse Practice Award by the Wisconsin Nurses Association. She received her BSN from Southern Connecticut College and her MSN from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She has been nationally certified as CNS in Critical Care and Geriatrics and certified in case management. 

Tom Ludwig, MBA, RN, 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. 

Linda Pophal, MA, ABC, SPHR, Consultant 

Linda Pophal

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).

Melissa Jankowski, Business Development Manager

Melissa Jankowski joined the Baird Group in September 2015 and is responsible for all business development activities. Melissa is an experienced manager bringing almost 20 years of healthcare experience in new client relations and marketing. She is a results-driven professional with a successful track record of increasing market share through training, market evaluation, customer analysis, strategy development, patient experience, and management. Melissa is masterful at building relationships with clients, patients, executives and physicians to not only earn business but to build long lasting trusting working relationships. Melissa’s role within Baird Group includes management of all consulting and mystery shopping new client relations. 

Mystery Shopping Division

Kalynn Baumann, MBA, MLS (ASCP)CM, Director, Mystery Shopping Division

Lindsay Frank, Project Assistant

Kalynn Baumann is the director of the Baird Group’s Mystery Shopping Division. Kalynn is an experienced healthcare leader bringing over 13 years of healthcare management experience in both inpatient and ambulatory settings. Her background in managing both laboratory and radiology service lines gives her a wealth of knowledge used in crafting the ideal methodology for clients and pertinent scenarios for mystery shoppers.

Throughout her management career, Kalynn has successfully led various healthcare projects including patient experience improvement, employee engagement, service line business development, service line integration, and strategic planning. Her experience helps her to understand the needs of both the patient and the business unit directors looking to take a deep dive into their patient experience.

Prior to joining Baird Group, Kalynn was Director of Diagnostic Services at St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital (Janesville, WI) where she was able to build the new department from start to finish. In that role, she was responsible for overseeing the operations of both the laboratory and radiology departments.

Kalynn earned an undergraduate degree in Clinical Laboratory Science from the University of Cincinnati and a Masters of Business Administration with an emphasis in management from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She is certified as a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

Bridget Nsibirwa, Project Coordinator/On-Site 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. In 2015, she took on the role of on-site coordinator. She currently oversees the certification of on-site shoppers, and the on-site portion of mystery shopping projects.

She has over fifteen years of experience as a CNA, in a variety of healthcare settings.

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. 


Rebecca Fernandes, Project Coordinator

Rebecca Fernandes, Project Assistant

Rebecca Fernandes joined the Baird team in 2015 as a Project Assistant and was promoted to Project Coordinator. In this role, she works directly with clients to ensure they receive the most accurate reflection possible for each patient experience. This is done by offering technical support to our mystery shoppers and clients, editing surveys for content and consistency, analyzing reports, and preparing client presentations.

Previously working in the finance and hospitality industries, Rebecca has accumulated twenty-five years of customer service, office, and administrative experience.


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