Aurora exec retires from health care group, but not volunteering

Sue Kaufman of Aurora thought she would just take a job as a receptionist at a downtown Chicago organization, knowing it would soon move to Naperville.

While she enjoyed working downtown, she looked forward to the shorter commute when then-named Illinois Hospital Association would move to Naperville.

That was in 1975. One move, one merger, 13 job titles and 42 years later, Kaufman recently retired as chief operating officer for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association. She went from receptionist to the No. 2 position in the association.

"Time flies. But I'm looking forward to a different pace now," said Kaufman, 66.

While her colleagues feted her last month, she thought about how she came to enjoy her job in the health care field.

Kaufman was born and raised in Brookfield, near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She became a teacher and loved the profession. When she and her husband moved to Illinois, she became a substitute teacher and then decided to take the receptionist position with the association.

"I felt like I was getting in on the ground floor of an association that helped hospital members," she said.

She worked her way up the ladder.

"I had a wonderful opportunity to work with a variety of people - from hospital volunteers to CEOs - all dedicated to the staff and entrenched in the community," she said.

Over the years, Kaufman had a strong connection with the association's Constituency on Volunteers group, which supports hospital volunteerism through education. During this year's COV scholarship campaign, held annually to support students pursuing a healthcare-related career, about $4,000 of the $36,000 raised was donated in Kaufman's honor.

Kaufman said she is looking forward to a slower pace, but also doing more traveling, reading and volunteering, which she said is ingrained in her. "It's been a wonderful experience," she said.

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Sue Kaufman, chief operating officer for Naperville-based Illinois Health and Hospital Association, at far left, is retiring after 42 years. She started as a receptionist. Now, one merger and 13 job titles later, Kaufman ends her career as the second in command, next to IHA President and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi, with microphone. COURTESY OF ILLINOIS HEALTH AND HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION
Sue Kaufman, chief operating officer for Naperville-based Illinois Health and Hospital Association, is retiring after 42 years. She poses with her husband, Chuck Kaufman. COURTESY OF ILLINOIS HEALTH AND HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION
Nicole Martin
Catherine Fitch
Andrew Dunn
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