Trustee brings business experience, rural roots to board

Wes Engbrecht’s career in accounting, tech & communication informs smart health care decisions

Trustee brings business experience, rural roots to board

It doesn’t take long to discover Wes Engbrecht is passionate about community.

He first joined the Sanford Health board in the Bismarck region in 2008 where he discovered that interest and passion from the start.

“This is important to the community. This is important to all of us to know that we have access to quality health care, and we take it for granted sometimes, you know, in our part of the world where other parts of the world don’t have it,” Engbrecht told Sanford Health News.

“It was really interesting to see where we’ve come and how advanced we are.”

After more than a decade serving in a regional capacity, Engbrecht was later invited to join the Sanford Health Board of Trustees at the end of 2020.

Well-suited for board leadership

The well-rounded leadership experience and expertise Engbrecht brings to the board stems from years in communication, public relations, information technology and accounting.

Today, Engbrecht is the director of communications at Capital Electric Cooperative in Bismarck.

In addition to his board service, Engbrecht serves on the Quality and Safety as well as Audit and Compliance committees.

“I went from being a numbers guy to a communications person, which I enjoy much more,” he said. “Even though I haven’t specialized in any one industry for the entirety of my career, it brings value to the board in cases where I’d say, ‘because of my CPA days, I can understand this audit report that they’re presenting today’ or ‘the messaging we need to get out there is communications-based.’”

At Capital Electric Cooperative, safety is one of Engbrecht’s biggest priorities as he works closely with line workers, the quality of the overall power system, and more. His role there, he says, relates to his role on both board committees as he focuses on care quality and patient satisfaction.

A rural upbringing translates to Sanford’s priorities

Growing up a farm boy in the western North Dakota town of Zap, Engbrecht knows rural.

“Our best health care option was 90 miles away growing up so when you had something serious happen, you went to Bismarck,” he said. “That access is vital to those small towns.”

That rural upbringing makes a big difference in the perspective he brings as he witnesses Sanford Health work toward becoming a premier rural provider to provide world-class care in small communities like Zap.

“Our focus on the rural communities translates into our focus on providing access to the urban communities,” he added. “You need the size and breadth of our organization to serve the people who have the most difficult time gaining access.

“To me, it is just exciting to think that we care enough to get there.”

His board philosophy, north star

He often circles back to his rural roots and remembers how difficult it is for many people in and around his hometown to access quality care quickly.

That’s the “why” behind his philosophy as a trustee and oftentimes, how he makes decisions when the path forward isn’t clear.

“That’s why I always go back to, ‘are we caring for everybody?’ and ‘are we providing the best access, at least to our ability, for everyone?’” he said.

The Sanford Health Board of Trustees members are each elected by the full board and currently serve up to three, three-year terms. The Board of Trustees Nominating and Governance Committee is responsible for identifying, evaluating, and recommending potential new members based on their qualifications and experience. Trustees represent a broad range of backgrounds, with extensive experience in business and finance, health care, technology, and the nonprofit sector.

Aside from serving as a Sanford trustee, Engbrecht is active in his community and has been a member of the Bismarck Optimist Club for nearly 30 years.

“If you can get up every day, be healthy and happy and have a lot to be thankful for, why wouldn’t you share that?” Engbrecht said. “If you have the ability to change one life, you know, you’re doing something good.”

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Posted In Bismarck, Corporate Services & Administration, Leadership in Health Care, People & Culture