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4 Nurse Leaders Who Influenced Cleveland Clinic's Executive Chief Nursing Officer

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   May 10, 2021

For National Nurses Week, Cleveland Clinic's top nurse honors the health system's nursing leaders who influenced her leadership path. 

By any standards, Meredith Foxx, MSN, MBA, APRN, NEA-BC, PCNS-BC, PPCNP-BC, CPON, has accomplished much in her career.

As executive chief nursing officer (ECNO) for Cleveland Clinic, Foxx leads 24,000 nurses in a health system that has been recognized as the No. 2 hospital in the world by Newsweek's World's Best Hospitals 2021 list.

Along the way, she was named Cleveland Clinic's first-ever Associate Chief Nursing Officer (ACNO) of Advanced Practice Nursing (APRN); steered Cleveland Clinic's APRN growth from 750 APRNs to more than 1,900; and led nursing quality and practice integration for multiple new hospital acquisitions.

Foxx easily acknowledges that she stands on the shoulders of other nurse executives who each played an important part in her trajectory to the C-suite. For National Nurses Week, Foxx talked to HealthLeaders about those nurse leaders who influenced her most and how her management style reflects that influence.

Humility and compassion: Mary Beth Modic, DNP, RN, CNS, CDE

Mary Beth Modic, a clinical nurse specialist, has been a colleague and mentor to Foxx since she started at the Cleveland Clinic in 2004.

When Foxx transitioned to be a clinical nurse specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, Modic was one of her peers and mentors.

"I have learned a tremendous amount of humility from her, and she is probably one of the most compassionate, empathetic nurses I've worked with throughout my career," Foxx says. "She's so sensitive to other people's needs."

"She always recognizes folks for their accomplishments, no matter how small or how big that accomplishment is, and if people have had something happen to them in their personal life, she's very aware of that, and I really appreciate that about her."

Foxx has replicated one of Modic's practices of giving books.

"She's always been an avid reader, and I've always loved to read but sometimes I wouldn't always make time or find time to read," she says. "She loves to give books as gifts, and I've always loved that about her because it's made me read things that I normally wouldn't read. I've also picked up on doing that because she's given me some very powerful things to read over the years to influence my leadership path."

A constant cheerleader: Janie Burke, BSN, MBA, RN, CPN

When Foxx started at the Cleveland Clinic as a clinical nurse in pediatric ICU, she met Janie Burke, an approachable clinical nursing director who listened to her goals and helped make them happen, she says.

"One of the reasons she shaped my career and my leadership journey is that from day one of meeting her, she has always [been] super-supportive of anything I wanted to pursue and really opened up that pathway for me," she says.

Foxx, as a new staff nurse, approached Burke about working as a clinical nurse specialist, for which she had been trained. "She was able to create a position for me as a clinical nurse specialist within eight months of me starting," she says.

"If it weren't for her being open to me developing and growing, I wouldn't be here now," Foxx says. "She wasn't my direct supervisor—we reported centrally somewhere else—but any time I had an idea or wanted to do something within the Children's Hospital, she never said no."

Skill sharpener: Joan Kavanagh, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Joan Kavanagh, associate chief nursing officer, Nursing Education and Professional Development, was Foxx's leader when she secured her first director job at Cleveland Clinic and helped her develop and hone her leadership skills.

"I had tremendous growth opportunities under her," Foxx says.

"She's just the type of person that is inspirational," Foxx says. "She pushes you to be innovative and have new ideas, and she also wants you to grow and develop your own leadership style as well as leadership skills."

Kavanagh recognized the Foxx's potential and helped her sharpen her skills.

"She would say, 'I know you're a great leader; you make great decisions. These are the things I want to help you polish to get to that next level,' " Foxx says.

Creating success: Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC, FAAN

"She's been the utmost mentor and my role model for years, but even more so in the past five or six years," Foxx says of Kelly Hancock, Cleveland Clinic's chief caregiver officer, who was the health system's ECNO just prior to Foxx.

"She took on a larger role in the organization and I report to her still, but she's been such an influential Cleveland Clinic nursing leader for so long," Foxx says. "Even before we had a direct relationship, I looked up to her as a leader and then was fortunate in my leadership journey to have her as a mentor and a role model."

"Even before I was reporting to her on advanced practice nursing projects and the development of the advanced practice nurse role within the Cleveland Clinic, I was fortunate that she recognized my leadership abilities and also recognized the importance of elevating advanced practice nursing at the Cleveland Clinic," Foxx says. "It was under her leadership as the executive chief nursing officer that she created the first associate chief nursing officer role for advanced practice nursing, which was my first ACNO job."

Hancock has skill in identifying management material and creating success in that person, Foxx says.

"She has a keen eye for leadership," Foxx says. "She sees the best in others and she wants to elevate folks that she sees as bright spots, and can see success in, and she knows that it's for the betterment of the organization, the nursing profession, and then ultimately our patient care."

From each of these nurse leaders, Foxx has taken pieces and parts of their management styles to develop her own unique leadership approach.

"I'm working on being a good listener and an active listener so I can understand where others are coming from," she says, "and what they may need."

EDITOR'S NOTE: HealthLeaders is celebrating National Nurses Week, May 6-12, by highlighting nurse leaders each day throughout the week who were among healthcare workers nominated by a colleague for HealthLeaders' "Leading Through the Pandemic" sweepstakes. Each nomination included comments from the colleague, which are featured in each of the stories.

See today's story: Part 3: Nurse Leaders Worked Elbow to Elbow With Their Staff Caring for COVID-19 Patients

Catch up on previous stories:

Part 1: Honoring 3 Nurse Leaders Who Worked Tirelessly

Part 2: Taking Care of the Frontline Caregivers

“If it weren't for her being open to me developing and growing, I wouldn't be here now. Any time I had an idea or wanted to do something within the Children's Hospital, she never said no.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


One of Meredith Foxx's influences always recognizes others' accomplishments, no matter how small.

Her role model showed her how to identify management material and create success in that person.

From these and other influences, Foxx has borrowed aspects of their management styles to develop her own.

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