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Welcome to the first edition of the GRQC newsletter! Each quarter we'll report on the latest and greatest news happening within the quality community. 

GRQC Newsletter | September 2023


Upcoming: The 2023 Showcase and Performance Excellence Awards Event!

Organizations from across the Greater Rochester Area compete for a GRQC Performance Excellence Award in one of the following categories: 

  • Team Excellence

  • Organizational Excellence

  • Customer Experience

On October 11th, these organizations will find out the winners of Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards. The award submission and project review process is modeled after the Baldrige Performance Excellence Awards, the most prestigious national award in the category.

The event is an incredible opportunity for participating organizations to celebrate their achievements. 

It is also an ideal chance for non-participating organizations to learn from some of the best in the local quality community, and get new improvement ideas to take back to your organization. It's also a good way to prepare for an award submission the following year!

Keynote Speaker:

Mike Della Porta is the COO & CIO for Butler/Till, and a respected leader among the Rochester area’s quality community. 

Last year, Butler/Till was selected as a Gold Award winner in Organizational Excellence, thanks largely to its commitment to quality and performance impact on behalf of their customers. He will share his experience and approach to building a culture of continuous improvement, innovation, and transformation. Mike has 20 years of experience in operations, technology, analytics, and marketing.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in Graphic Media Publishing with a minor in Professional and Technical Communications from RIT, is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and serves on several advisory boards.

To meet this years' finalists: 

To register for the event, please visit: 


An Interview with a 2022 Organizational Excellence Award Winner

We recently spoke with Lorynda Bender, Hillside’s Director of Quality and Risk Management, about the Organizational Excellence Gold Award that Hillside won in 2022. Upon receiving the award, Hillside President & CEO Maria Cristalli said the GRQC recognition “affirms our commitment to delivering high quality services that make an important difference in the lives of the nearly 10,000 youth, adults and families that Hillside serves every year.”


The following interview with Lorynda has been edited for clarity.  


Hi, Lorynda, thanks for speaking with us today.  When thinking about Hillside’s application for an organizational excellence award, what would you say worked well?

Taking a team approach to the application process worked really well for Hillside.  Darlene Ryan (Chief Performance Officer at Hillside and a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt) led a group of subject matter experts who addressed the different topics on the application. In addition to this division of labor, we were able to leverage existing material such as presentations, scorecards, and dashboards to support our application. 


What were some of the challenges in the application process?

As with any organization, finding the time for the group to get together and review the material can be a challenge.  Leveraging existing material really helped reduce the amount of time needed to prepare the application. 


What did winning mean for Hillside?

It was great to have the work that we do on a daily basis recognized and validated by our quality professional peers. 


What did Hillside learn as a result of submitting their application?

Working on the application enabled us to take a step back and recognize the high quality standards we work to every day.  We realized that we do a lot – we had substantial evidence for each of the application topics.  In addition, the application process enabled us to examine our work from a different point of view.  Evaluating our work through this different lens allowed us to identify opportunities and ideas that we may want to incorporate in the future. 


What advice would you give to others who are thinking about applying for an award?

The application process is a great opportunity for any organization to identify the strengths and opportunities in their quality program.  In addition, the interview with the GRQC board members is an excellent chance to engage with experienced quality professionals and take advantage of their “outside eyes” for a different perspective.  The feedback report provided a thoughtful analysis of our strengths and suggestions regarding opportunities.  Completing the application and working with the GRQC review team is a great opportunity for any organization to assess their quality program and identify strengths and opportunities.  Because there are different levels of the award based on specific criteria, it doesn’t matter where an organization is in their quality journey. Leveraging existing material such as presentations, dashboards and scoreboards is an excellent way to streamline the application process. 


An Interview with  a 2022 Customer Experience Award Winner

The Golisano Children’s Hospital at URMC won last year's Silver Award for Customer Experience. Their project was: Gastrojejunostomy tube (GJ) Express - Cross Departmental Collaborations to Achieve Excellence in Patient Centered Care
What w
ent well:
The Golisano Children’s Hospital at URMC “GJ Express” team developed a new process to streamline procedures for GJ tube replacements.  The team worked closely with patient families to develop ways to replace tubes without the need for anesthesia services.  The new process involved Child Life Specialists who implemented distraction tools for children.  
What did you learn?
We also had families involved in the tube replacement so caregivers could be part of the tube replacement team if they felt comfortable.  The results were impressive with a reduction in the need for anesthesia from 86% down to 14% within a year.  We feel involvement of the families on the quality improvement team was very beneficial.  
What has winning the GRQC Customer Experien
ce Award in 2022 meant for your team?
The team has gone on to present the work at a national meeting and we have worked with a medical student to write and submit a manuscript for publication…fingers crossed we can share the work with other children's hospitals once it is published.  

Successful Work Team

Highlights from the Recent Succession Planning Program. 

Strategic Planning at Excellus: A Strategic Imperative for the Organization’s Future Success


In today's environment, where organizations are facing record levels of turnover, having a robust succession plan is more critical than ever. Thank you to Tim Lippincott & Ryan Barrett from Excellus BCBS for joining us in July to discuss best practices embedded in their program, Enterprise Succession! Here are some of the key takeaways:


  • Competing for talent has become increasingly vital in this changing landscape of competitive labor market, employee expectations, and The Great Resignation.

  • Excellus spotlights internal mobility and early identification of the employees with the potential to rise to and succeed in more senior positions, looking at their engagement, aspiration, and ability. This rubric identifies those high-performing individuals with the potential for further advancement.

  • An annual review consists of an 8-step process, from prioritizing critical roles to planning for and embedding follow-ups in the natural business cycle.

  • Excellus creates a measurement rubric for success that considers organizational results, key placements, program progress, and stakeholder satisfaction.

  • Keep in mind workplaces include multiple generations! Understanding those dynamics can help identify potential paths to success.

  • Do not force it. “We’ve always had this” is not the answer! See what works and what does not to evolve team structure so it makes sense. Designing the organization around the people for the opportunity has succeeded at Excellus.


Presentation slides and Zoom recordings from all GRQC Performance Excellence Forums are posted to our Event Presentations page. Catch you at the next event!


30th Anniversary of GRQC!


As the Greater Rochester Quality Council celebrates its 30th year of supporting the quality community, here’s its history.

Featuring notes from

Leo Braun: Founding member of first steering committee for GRQC

Dr. Robert Panzer: Former Chairperson and most extended tenured active board member of GRQC.


It started in the executive boardroom of Kodak, on the 14th floor. A meeting was scheduled with the proverbial “who’s-who” of Rochester’s community to discuss the possibility of a new group, focused on making Rochester a community of excellence. In attendance were representatives from Kodak, Xerox, the Rochester Chamber of Commerce, RIT’s Center for Quality and Applied Statistics, the Center for Governmental Research, the Industrial Management Council (IMC), and fledgling quality organizations GRACE (Greater Rochester Area Council for Excellence) and ASQ Rochester (Rochester had an ASQ chapter before the creation of the national organization). This group quickly realized that they had something special together, something desperately needed to make Rochester the community of excellence that they desired.


Together, they had the clout to bring all sectors of the community together (Business, non-profit, healthcare, education, government, organizations, individuals, etc.). This meeting catalyzed GRQC's formation, which filed its papers for affiliation with the Rochester Chamber of Commerce in 1993.

The mid-90s saw a passionate quality community fueled by things like the Malcolm Baldridge Award, the NYS Excelsior Award, and systems such as Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) and Total Quality Management (TQM)…all of which gained significant popularity in the manufacturing sector. However, it was hardly the first time that the Rochester community focused on quality.

“Rochester Made Means Quality” was a slogan coined by the Rochester Chamber of Commerce in the early 1900s and continued to be used by prominent Rochester manufacturers through the 1950s. The slogan was stated with pride by companies such as Eastman Kodak, Genesee Brewing Company, the Cunningham Car Company, and others.

However, with the creation of GRQC, the passion of the local quality community was able to coalesce and begin to give back to Rochester through education, networking, and support.

One of the first services offered by GRQC was a two-day quality conference in downtown Rochester. See the brochure here.

The initial flurry of services GRQC offered helped it become the first “golden era” of GRQC. According to those who have remained close to the organization for over 30 years, the second “golden era” occurred around 2001. GRQC could make more significant connections, organize its structures, make processes more disciplined, and expand its reach and services into previously underserved sectors. The third “golden era” would be the current organization, where GRQC has matured and offers perhaps its most comprehensive array of services to the quality community (such as monthly programs, the Day of Quality, and the annual Showcase event).

Over the past 30 years, GRQC has been able to surround those needing quality support to solve challenges and apply quality best practices that have had a meaningful impact on many other organizations. The successes from the past 30 years are too numerous to list, but some of the most memorable highlights include:

  • Supporting a prominent local non-profit through massive budget cuts (without reducing services).

  • A project to improve communication among hospitals, ambulances, and dispatchers to ensure patients are delivered quickly to the correct location.

  • Introduction to quality award processes, helping some organizations learn, practice, compete for, and ultimately win national Malcolm Baldrige awards.

  • Creation of “Quality for Leaders” training sessions and collaboration with local colleges (RIT, MCC) that have similar programs that have impacted hundreds (if not thousands) of people across all sectors of Greater Rochester.

Looking back across the history of GRQC, one thing becomes abundantly clear. The real power to create meaningful impact comes from making connections. Getting the right people together, with the right experience, subject matter expertise, and leadership, makes all the difference. To that end, GRQC’s value to the community has less to do with the tools and services; instead, it has more to do with you. By bringing the local quality community into a tight-knit network, GRQC is poised to continue impacting the community's organizational excellence for another 30 years.

Volunteering Group

We need you at GRQC!

Would you like to partner with GRQC to advance performance excellence in the community without making a long-term commitment?  We have just the thing for you - volunteering to help one of our committees!  GRQC has eight committees who help us achieve our strategic objectives.  These committees are staffed by GRQC Board members and volunteers.  We invite you to visit our new Volunteer Opportunity website page and reach out to any of the committee contacts to learn more or to express your interest.  Volunteer opportunities are open to GRQC members and non-members alike.  We'd love to have you join us!


Upcoming Events

Fall is a busy season at GRQC! Here's a look at some upcoming events: 

​​Annual Showcase and Performance Excellence Awards

  • Wednesday, October 11, 2023, 5-8 pm at Locust Hill Country Club

  • Event details and tickets 


Performance Excellence Forum: Sensory Analysis and Quality Assessment for Food and Beverage (presented by DraughtLab CEO Matt Conyer)

  • Wednesday, October 25, 2023

  • On-line

  • Event details and registration

GRQC Healthcare Forum: Safety Culture (Panel Discussion)

  • Thursday, November 16, 2023

  • On-line

  • Event details and registration COMING SOON


Performance Excellence Forum: How Artificial Intelligence (AI) affects quality improvement initiatives (presented by RIT Department Chair - MIS, Marketing, & Analytics at RIT Sean Hansen)

  • Wednesday, November 29, 2023

  • On-line

  • Event details and registration COMING SOON


Become a Member!

Are you passionate about performance excellence? GRQC is for you! 

Membership in GRQC includes many benefits, and is open to any organization or individual regardless of:

  • Sector

  • Experience with Performance Excellence / Quality Improvement

  • Size of your organization

Many members say that their favorite part of GRQC is being connected to the local performance excellence community, and creating relationships with the right people to help their organizations to achieve greatness.

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