Leader spotlight: CPA Tiffany Lawrence leads Fargo finance

"I love that there’s something new every day."

By: Jane Heilmann .

Tiffany Lawrence
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Tiffany Lawrence, vice president of finance at Sanford Fargo, began her career more than 20 years ago at what is now Sanford Health.

Tell us about your early life and education.

I grew up in Kindred, North Dakota, a small town 30 miles southwest of Fargo. I attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks where I received a bachelor’s degree in accountancy in 1994. I’m a licensed certified public accountant.

My first job was at Dakota Hospital in Fargo as a staff accountant for their home health agency and medical center.

How did you come to Sanford Health?

In 1996, I had an opportunity to come to MeritCare (now Sanford Health) in their budget and analysis department.  This was my first move from a more traditional accounting role to a finance operational role.

At the time, financial analysts were aligned with specific support areas, and my initial areas were critical care and Bemidji (Minnesota) Clinic. We also provided budget oversight for those areas. I eventually had opportunities to support other services lines at MeritCare.

After a few years, I had the opportunity to move into a management position. At that point, we were consolidating costing, productivity and budget forecasting with business decision support. Right before the merger with Sanford in 2009, I transitioned into an executive partner (vice president) role in finance.

With the merger, we transitioned to medical center and clinic leadership. I was named CFO for the Fargo hospital, a position I held until 2015, when we transitioned to a combined hospital and clinic leadership model, and I became the CFO for both. In 2017, we merged the Fargo network critical access hospitals and clinics back into the Fargo market.

What are you current roles and responsibilities as vice president/medical officer?

My current role as vice president of finance for the Fargo market is to provide oversight and accountability for the Fargo medical centers and clinics, and all the regional clinics and the critical access hospitals we have in Thief River Falls and Wheaton, Minnesota, as well as  Mayville and Hillsboro, North Dakota. This includes budget forecasting, legislative issues, revenue cycle issues and more.

I kind of grown up here at Sanford. I love that there’s something new every day. Constant change isn’t always easy, but when you come out on the other side and see how far we’ve come, it’s awesome to see the growth and accomplishments.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The people. You meet and work with so many great people. And the diversity of it. Health care is very dynamic and changing constantly. There’s something new to do or learn every day.

What are you most proud of in your work at Sanford Health?

At the top of my list is the opening of Sanford Medical Center Fargo. From the planning to seeing it all the way through to the grand opening, it was so exciting to be a part of it.  It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime project.

The merger with Sanford in 2009 is also on my list. It was a great experience to be part of a big merger, bring people together and see the growth. Change isn’t always easy. You work through many struggles and hurdles. But when you come out on the other side and see the accomplishments, it’s awesome to see how far we’ve come.

I’m also proud that Sanford is a great community leader and partner.

What do you see looking ahead?

A couple of things. It would be great to see Sanford become a quaternary center in the region, meaning we provide all levels of care -– primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary, which is very highly specialized. We are well on our way to this designation after our level I trauma verification in 2018.

I also see us receiving more national recognition with things like the Lorraine Cross Award, our ongoing research and many other areas.

Do you have a message for Sanford Health employees?

Yes: “Thank you” for all you do, working with patients and families and each other every single day. It’s a very hard job. I can’t say it often enough.

Tell us about your family life and interests/hobbies.

My husband, Rick, is in the insurance business, and we have three boys — 13-year-old Patrick and 11-year-old twins Thomas and Andrew. They all love sports, so on weekends you can always find me at the nearest soccer field or basketball hoop. In the summer, we spend time at the lakes with our families. And I’ve recently taken up golf again. It’s been a while since I’ve played, and I’m really enjoying it.

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