Michelle Y.  Blakely, PhD is a successful healthcare executive and aspiring servant leader.  She is President Aurora Medical Center, Grafton in a position she assumed in March 2020.  Aurora Medical Center, Grafton is a 132-bed tertiary care hospital, that is a located in Grafton Wisconsin, a regional hospital serving the community of Grafton and the surrounding communities with $1.1B in gross charges. It is one of 26 hospitals in the Advocate Aurora Health not-for-profit health care system. Dr. Blakely is responsible for developing and implementing the medical center’s long term strategic direction and ensures consistency with the overall mission and direction.  She oversees all operations and ensures control and effective utilization of physician and financial resources. She is a team-oriented executive with extensive experience in not-for-profit and federal hospitals and healthcare systems.

She is lauded for capabilities in organization assessment, leader selection and development, process improvement, system redesign to optimize patient experience, and operational efficiency to drive the bottom line. She has demonstrated the ability to translate sincerity into action with a commitment to patients and a genuine interest in people. Dr. Blakely has been successful at combining industry knowledge and an investment in both leaders and line staff to motivate employees to achieve optimal outcomes for the organization.  She is passionate about creating empowering environments and serves as the executive sponsor leading a cultural transformation to create a patient centered hospital and health system that is the “provider and employer of choice” that respects the community history while designing for and embracing an evolving community.   

Prior to joining Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Dr. Blakely served as the Chief Operating Officer Norwegian and Chief Operating Officer and interim Chief Executive Officer for several VA hospitals in the Midwest.  She left the VA as a senior executive service certified leader after serving for over 20 years as a health care administrator for the Department of Veterans Affairs at the medical center and regional levels.   

She has held various positions as board member and as a volunteer for community organizations. She is an active mentor and coach to health care executives, practitioners and scientists.  She also performed as faculty on the topics of leadership and human resources management for doctoral students at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and serves as a guest lecturer for RUSH University’s Master’s in Health Administration program where she lectures on the subject of “Federal Sector Healthcare as a Managed Care Organization.”  She has a heart for changing the lives of young women and can often be found volunteering as a mentor and coach to at-risk youth.     

In 2022, Dr. Blakely was selected as The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Alumna of the year.  In 2018 Dr. Blakely was honored as one of Crain’s Chicago Notable Women in Healthcare.  In 2015, she was awarded one of the Omega Psi Phi Women of Excellence Awards for her humanitarian efforts.  In 2012 Blakely, was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award by the Illinois Department of Disabled American Veterans. In 2011, Blakely was named as one of Chicago’s Women of Excellence for her professional and humanitarian accomplishments and she was recognized with numerous other awards and commendations for her contributions in federal health care.  

Dr. Blakely earned her PhD in Organizational Leadership at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where her dissertation topic was “Ethics as a Core Competency in Leader Selection.”  She has a master’s degree in Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana.  She is also a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and a member of the National Association of Health Services Administration.  She has published on the subjects of patient centered care and systems integration.