Jo Suess and Mike Hansen will serve as Columbus Days' Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand XLV, respectively.
The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce made the announcement on Monday, noting the royalty members were chosen on the basis of their service and impact in the Columbus area. Coronation will take place at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Ramada Hotel and River's Edge Convention Center.
“I was quite surprised to be chosen and so very humbled,” said Jo Suess, Columbus Area United Way development director, in a provided statement. “Knowing several of the women who have worn the crown before me, it’s a privilege to be nominated and selected."
Suess’ nomination was based primarily upon her civic engagement. She has been a member of the Sertoma Club for 10 years, a majority of which have involved serving on the organization’s board of directors and currently as board secretary. Other board positions include the Columbus Family YMCA Endowment Board and Togetherhood Committee, which she chaired for two years.
She served as both member and president for the Columbus Arts Council and the NU Attitudes Sorority. She has been actively involved in other organizations, such as the Columbus Women’s Club, Relay for Life of Platte County and Habitat for Humanity, among others.
She served as chairwoman for both the local Prayer Breakfast and the Star City Parade entry chair; served as president, member and yearbook coordinator for the Elks County Club Women’s League, and is currently involved in such Chamber events as Columbus Days, and Red, White, KaBoom!, the latter of which she has chaired since 2011.
She is also a past member and president of the St. Isidore School Board; past District Parish Council member; Legacy Capital Campaign co-chair; and she currently serves on the church’s finance committee and has been a member and volunteer for several Scotus Central Catholic organizations and initiatives, including the Scotus Gala, of which she has co-chaired in the past and continued to serve as a volunteer for 20 years.
“I am honored to be selected alongside Jo,” said Columbus Community Hospital (CCH) President/CEO Mike Hansen, who was selected to serve as Columbus Days' king this year. “She is very deserving, and I look forward to sharing this experience with her.”
Hansen has his own resume of community contributions. Along with his team, Hansen has helped expand CCH’s health care services for the betterment of the community. Hansen has been serving as president and CEO of CCH since 2009, and in that time, the hospital has made impressive strides in recruiting new physicians and bringing new health care programs and services to the area.
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These programs have benefited tens of thousands and include the surgical services expansion and renovation project currently underway; an e-mental health triage program; the Surge Center for Joint Replacement; Telestroke; CCH Child Care Center; Columbus Wellness Center; emergency department renovation; a simulation lab for training purposes; the Healthpark Medical Office Building; and adult and pediatric hospitalists programs.
These contributions have led to several awards and recognitions for CCH, including A grades in Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, being named a Top 100 Rural and Community Hospital, receiving a five-star rating for Hospital Quality, receiving a Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award, being named a Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care and receiving a Susan G Komen grant that provided uninsured and under-insured women in the Columbus community with lifesaving mammograms.
During Hansen’s tenure as president and CEO, CCH has also been named a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures and the CCH laboratory received an Excellence Through Insight award for Overall Patient Satisfaction.
Hansen has volunteered for TeamMates and been a member of Rotary. He also served as a board member for the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and was the recipient of the 2017 Archway Award.
He started his health care career more than 35 years ago and holds membership in professional organizations including the Fellow American College of Healthcare Executives, Society for Human Resources Management and the American Hospital Association. He has served as past president of the Heartland Healthcare Executive Group and past board chairman for the Nebraska Hospital Association and is a current board member for both.
Hansen's other memberships include the State Board of Health, the NHA Research and Educational Foundation, the Mid-America Hospital Alliance and Regional Provider Network. He is co-founder of the Enhance Health Network and was the recipient of the Nebraska Hospital Association’s Advocacy Award and the ACHE Recognition Award.
Once Suess and Hansen add “Queen” and “King” titles to their distinguished resumes on Aug. 12, the public can expect to see them fulfilling their new roles and responsibilities, including judging both the Columbus Days Talent Contest and BBQ Classic competition. They can also expect to see them make appearances at the Frankfurter Wiener Dog Races and other Columbus Days activities.
Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President Jeanne Schieffer on Monday night told The Columbus Telegram that she believes Suess and Hansen have demonstrated how much they care about the area through what they do professionally and in their personal lives to help it.
"They are excellent candidates and excellent choices," she said. "They both reflect that volunteerism and commitment to making the community better through what they do."