ASHE Honors Walt Vernon with the President’s Award at Annual Conference


ASHE presented awards during its 52nd Annual Conference and Technical Exhibition on Monday, July 13. Mazzetti CEO, Walt Vernon was among a short list of prestigious award recipients, honored with the President’s Award. This award is presented at the discretion of the sitting ASHE president to an individual who goes above and beyond to optimize the health care physical environment. It’s a great honor for Walt to receive this recognition for his work and the leadership he provides Mazzetti in doing this work.

Walt wanted to share his acceptance speech to pay forward a gift to you…

So, when Dave called me to tell me about this award, I told him I thought he must be butt-dialing me. I don’t really feel like I’m doing anything all that special. I’m just some electrical engineer trying to help some hospitals do better. 

When I was first starting out as a young electrical engineer, I kept bumping into rules and practices that were clearly out of date and needed to be changed. But, I discovered that you can’t really do much to change things inside of one project; you are always constrained by cost and schedule. I realized that, to make a bigger difference, I needed to be part of something bigger. 

About that time, my mentor, Hugh Nash, took me to Chicago to meet another young rogue electrical engineer named Doug Erickson, working for this organization called ASHE. Doug quickly figured out that I’m not that smart – I can’t spell the word N-O. So, Doug put me to work, and I’ve been working for Doug and Dave and ASHE and FGI and healthcare, ever since.

So let me close with a story about why I do this. 

I grew up in Kansas City. I was a pretty average teenager. So one day I found myself inside of my parents’ car stuck in a snow bank for reasons they would not have appreciated very much. I was sitting there pondering what then appeared to be a pretty bleak future, when along came some guy in a pickup. He had a hook and a rope, and he was able to yank me out of the snow bank, saving me from certain parental disaster.

I was so happy. I was bubbling over with thanks, and I tried to pay him. He said no—don’t pay him. The only thanks he needed was if, the next time I saw someone else in trouble, I would stop and help them out; the next time I saw a problem that needed to be fixed, I would be part of the solution.

Now the secret that that man did not tell me was that the gift he gave me was NOT pulling me out of the snow bank (but thank God he did). The real gift he gave me was that task. 

And, through the years, I have discovered that when I have lived this advice, I have gotten back way more than I put in, and this is especially true of my work with ASHE. As I have worked with ASHE, I have been able to meet many of you and your colleagues. I have been able to work with many of you and your colleagues. And I have been able to learn from many of you and your colleagues. And this has been a gift.

So, while I still think that Dave butt-dialed me, and, being Dave, he couldn’t admit it, so he had to follow through with giving me this award, I will accept it. But in exchange, I give you this gift. When you see someone in trouble, give them a hand. When you see a problem that needs to be solved, be part of the solution. 

Thank you very much. 

ASHE Press Release here.

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