Pioneer Award

Pioneer Award

The Texas Hospital Association's Pioneer Award is given to a CEO/administrator of a rural hospital or health care system who demonstrates creative and innovative management achievements and leadership within the organization and the community.

Sharon Beasley, 512/465-1030

2021 Award Winner

photo of Ross Korkmas

The Texas Hospital Association awarded its Pioneer Award to Ross Korkmas, CEO of Palo Pinto General Hospital in Mineral Wells, Texas.

The Texas Hospital Association's Pioneer Award is given to a CEO/administrator of a rural hospital or health care system who demonstrates creative and innovative management achievements and leadership within the organization and the community. This award is sponsored by the Texas Hospital Insurance Exchange.

Ross Korkmas joined Palo Pinto General Hospital, a 74-bed hospital in Mineral Wells, in 2019 and has proven to be a transformational leader in a short period of time.

In his two-year tenure, Korkmas added multiple new physicians and hospital services at Palo Pinto General Hospital. Some of which include an inpatient tele-pulmonary/critical care program, a school-based telehealth program, infectious diseases specialist program, urology, pediatric clinic and a pain management clinic. By the end of 2021, the ever-expanding hospital also added a new primary care clinic to its system.

Korkmas’ leadership extends beyond the walls of Palo Pinto General Hospital and into the community it serves. Under his leadership, the hospital was recognized as Corporate Partner of the Year by the Mineral Wells Chamber of Commerce in 2020. In addition, the mayor of Mineral Wells recently appointed Korkmas to serve on the Land Use Task Force and is frequently called upon by city leaders for guidance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Korkmas is regarded as an equally efficient and caring servant leader who is always looking to better the culture of the hospital and listen to new ideas. He took the reins at Palo Pinto General Hospital amid a particularly turbulent period and made a concerted effort to assuage the uncertainty that lingered by continually engaging with existing staff.

His colleagues and staff describe him as “the guy who makes the big decisions, signs on the bottom line for major business dealings, but also sweeps the floor in the ER when staff are spread thin and texts staff on the weekends to check on their sick children.”

Created by THA’s Rural Hospital Constituency Council, the Pioneer Award honors a rural hospital administrator or CEO who demonstrates creative and innovative leadership in the organization and community he or she serves.

Every year since 2004, THA has honored one rural hospital CEO with the Pioneer Award. Each recipient has set a standard of excellence in leadership and community service that exemplifies THA’s commitment to the health care industry.

Nominees must be a CEO or administrator of a rural/small hospital that is an active Type 1 THA member. 

Selection Criteria
Nominees must demonstrate creative or innovative management achievements and leadership within their organizations and the communities served. Nominees also may be recognized for their collective body of work following several years of service as a rural hospital executive.

Nominations may be supported by letters; press releases; financial information; information about patient outcomes, programs and services; and any other information that validates the candidate’s leadership achievements (maximum 15 pages, including CV/resume).

Nominations may be submitted by a member of the Rural Hospital Constituency Council, a member of the nominee’s hospital staff, or a member of the community served by the hospital.

Selection Process
The Rural Hospital Constituency Council reviews all nominations and selects the award recipient by majority vote.

The honoree will be featured in THA publications and recognized at the THA Annual Conference and Expo.

Step 1. Complete the nomination form.

Step 2. Attach up to 15 pages of supporting documents, including a one-page summary of the nominee’s professional achievements and contributions to the health care industry.

Step 3. Be sure all materials are completed and SUBMITTED by the posted deadline.

Questions? Contact Sharon Beasley at or 512/465-1030.

2020: Adam Willmann, FACHE, CEO, Goodall Witcher Hospital Authority, Clifton

2019: Nathan Tudor, CEO, El Campo Memorial Hospital

2018: Robbie Dewberry, CEO, Mitchell County Hospital, Colorado City

2017: J. Patrick Murray, president/CEO , Peterson Regional Medical Center, Kerrville

2016: Dianne Yeager, RN, CEO, Crane Memorial Hospital

2015: Brian Burnside, FACHE, CEO, Connally Memorial Medical Center, Floresville

2014: Janice Simons, FACHE, CEO, Medina Healthcare System, Hondo

2013: William H. Barnes, FACHE, administrator/CEO, Sweeny Community Hospital

2012: Penny Gray, RN, administrator/CEO, Limestone Medical Center, Groesbeck

2011: James E. Vanek, administrator/CEO, Lavaca Medical Center, Hallettsville

2010: Karen Barber, RN, CEO, Yoakum Community Hospital

2009: Keith Butler, CEO, Lillian M. Hudspeth Memorial Hospital, Sonora

2008: Teresa Callahan, RN, CEO, Iraan General Hospital

2007: Russell Tippin, administrator/CEO, Pecos Memorial Hospital, Fort Stockton

2006: Sandra Jackson, Ed.D., RN, CEO/chief nursing officer, Tyler County Hospital, Woodville

2005: Robert A. Pascasio, administrator and CEO, Bayside Community Hospital, Anahuac

2004: Michael Hare, CEO, DeLeon Hospital and Evan Moore, CEO, Comanche Community Hospital