Most Influential Women: Kari Cornicelli, Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Business News | 19 Jul |

Az Business and AZRE magazines announced the publications’ lists of the Most Influential Women in Arizona of 2021, including Kari Cornicelli of Phoenix Children’s HospitalIn celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Most Influential Women program, azbigmedia.com is profiling one of the Most Influential Women of 2021 each day leading up to the Most Influential Women of 2021 dinner and reception.


READ ALSO: The Most Influential Women in Arizona Business for 2021


The Most Influential Women for 2021 will be honored at a reception on August 26 at Chateau Luxe in Phoenix. For sponsorship information, email Amy.Lindsey@azbigmedia.com. For information about the event honoring the Most Influential Women, email Lynette.Carrington@azbigmedia.com or click here.

To buy copies of the Most Influential Women in Arizona issue, click here.

Today’s spotlight: Kari Cornicelli

Executive vice president and CFO

Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Cornicelli has extensive experience in healthcare finance, value growth and in developing healthcare reform initiatives like population health strategies. As CFO, she leads broad financial initiatives across the health system as well as the operations of Phoenix Children’s Care Network and Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics.

Lessons learned in 2020: “I’ve always valued teamwork. This past year, the importance of a cohesive team became even more evident. The initial shutdown of the economy to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus had an immediate effect on hospitals as it related to the suspension of scheduled surgeries, clinical services and office visits. It took an all hands-on deck effort to mobilize telehealth services, re-open clinical services and prepare to re-start scheduled cases effective May 1 to ensure that our patients had access to the clinical care that they needed. Staff throughout the organization were impacted and contributed to the re-opening, including procurement of personal protective equipment, rigorous testing and screening, universal masking, social distancing, enhanced cleaning, and the patient care of COVID-19 positive patients.

“Additionally, the value of teamwork became more apparent within the finance division. Working remotely brought out the real challenges related to individuals working alone on a project, including the creativity of project development, timely decision making, and project completion. All of these challenges can more easily be overcome through team collaboration where multiple individuals who are individually skilled in an area can contribute to the overall development of a project, thereby creating a better outcome. Teams make the most of each person’s strengths and compensate for individual weaknesses. Everyone participating on a project learns from the process and grows professionally. So, while I didn’t mind working from home, I am very excited to see staff come back to work and resume the comradery and partnership that is the foundation of every highly functioning team! Teamwork matters!”

Source of pride: “As I look back over my professional career, there have been several personal and team accomplishments that stand out. The most recent accomplishment relates to the $290 million new money bond offering that Phoenix Children’s closed in August 2020. This transaction was the first time in the past seven years that Phoenix Children’s went to the capital market to raise new funds. The offering would allow us to expand our footprint to provide important access to our pediatric population in underserved areas and advance Phoenix Children’s 35-year mission to provide hope, healing and the best health care for children and their families.

“The financing plan was presented to the Board of Directors in April 2020, right at the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, which seemed like a risky time to embark upon increasing the organizations’ debt load during a time of fiscal uncertainty.  As a result of our successful track record of executing key strategic initiatives, we took the position to stay the course and pursue the expansion endeavor. The executive team worked vigorously to implement a COVID-19 mitigation plan that would guide the organization through these unprecedented times. I was confident in the financial health of our system and that new community offerings would bring best-in-class care to more patients and families, while simultaneously enhancing the organization’s financial sustainability.

“In mid-July, we undertook the rigorous task of presenting our fiscal and strategic plan to Moody’s, S&P and Fitch credit rating agencies. The agencies examined our five-year forecast and pushed hard with questions about COVID-19 mitigation, financial projections, cash flows, revenue growth, philanthropy contributions from Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, EBIDA margins and project ROI, among dozens of others. At the conclusion of the process, all three agencies affirmed Phoenix Children’s credit ratings A, A1 and A+, despite the reality of hundreds of hospital systems being downgraded during the pandemic due to financial uncertainty.

“With affirmations complete, in August, our CEO, Bob Meyer and I met with bond investors on the specifics of the offering. Days later when the bonds came to market, investors demonstrate a robust appetite: the offering was 22.1x oversubscribed with over $5.4B in total orders.

“As it turned out – at that point in time, the Phoenix Children’s issuance “set an all-time low in healthcare with its 2050 maturity – 4% coupon and 2.12% yield to call.” Despite the uncertainties, Phoenix Children’s demonstrated to investors a strong value proposition for patients and families in the Southwest Region, strong financials and a dynamic strategic growth plan for the future. As Bank of America explained: ‘This impressive reception was a testament to Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s strong credit story, management’s track record on execution of strategic initiatives and response to COVID-19, and continued expected positive momentum due to the planned capital investments.'”

Surprising fact: “I probably appear as a workaholic…which isn’t uncommon for these types of leadership positions. But I do like to have fun….I am an outdoor enthusiast who likes to go jeeping, camping, biking and hiking. My husband and I like to spend the weekends discovering the beautiful state of Arizona. We’ve only lived here two years, so everything is new to us. We have found the geographic diversity of the state to be amazing and beautiful. We enjoy the mountains and desert alike and have enjoyed exploring the many small historic towns. From the Grand Canyon to the Mogollon Rim and beautiful town of Pine to the Sonoita wine trail in Elgin and everything in between – we have thoroughly enjoyed our Arizona adventures.”

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