2023 Trustee of the Year Award Honoree Rev. Ron Hawkins (center) with AdventHealth’s executive leadership team. (From L to R) AdventHealth CEO and President Terry Shaw, Senior Executive Vice President Ken Bacon, Hawkins, UChicago Medicine AdventHealth CEO and President Thor Thordarson, and AdventHealth Central Florida CEO Randy Haffner. [Photo credit: Tim Brown/AdventHealth]

January 1, 2024

Longtime Board Member Honored as Trustee of the Year

For the past 16 years, Rev. Ron Hawkins, a retired McDonald’s executive, has had a deep commitment to AdventHealth’s mission of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ.

It’s a mission that he personally aligns with, as Christ has always been the guide throughout his life. 

The mission drew him to serve on the Adventist Midwest Health board of directors since 2011. The board oversees the operations of the four UChicago Medicine AdventHealth hospitals in Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Hinsdale and La Grange. 

Hawkins began his service to AdventHealth in 2007, when he joined the fundraising committee for the Bolingbrook Hospital Foundation gala event. In 2008, he was named chairman of the foundation’s board of directors. He served for two terms on the foundation board through 2014. He was appointed to the Adventist Midwest Health board of directors in 2011 and continues to serve on the board today. In 2013, the chapel at UChicago Medicine AdventHealth Bolingbrook was dedicated in his name. At AdventHealth’s Conference on Mission last fall, Hawkins was honored as Board Trustee of the Year.  

Hawkins said he was honored and humbled to receive the award. “There are so many people involved with awards that go to one person,” he said. “We have a great board, so it’s an honor from that standpoint. But I’m just humbled.  I don’t see myself as anyone special. I’m just a servant of God trying to do God’s work.” 

Hawkins worked at McDonald’s for 40 years, starting in 1971 as a crew person behind a restaurant counter while attending school. Within two years, he became a restaurant manager. He continued to grow in leadership roles, working in every aspect of the business. In 2003, he was promoted to vice president and national ombudsman, the first African American ever to hold this important position. In this role, he acted as a conscience to the McDonald’s system, and when there was a need, evaluated the application of policies, procedures and fundamental values to reach equitable solutions with U.S. franchisees and corporate employees. 

When he was invited to get involved with AdventHealth, he jumped at the opportunity. “The thing that got me immediately was when I heard AdventHealth’s mission was Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ,” he said. “My father and his father were pastors, and I was a deacon at that time,” says Hawkins, who now serves as a Baptist pastor in Jackson, Tennessee. He adds: “Service is what it’s all about, so I figured I would try it out. When you have a mission statement of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ, how can you not want to serve?” 

What has kept him involved, even in retirement? “A lot of organizations say certain things, but they don’t really act in the way the mission is set out,” he said. “AdventHealth does. They are unapologetically faith-based in their actions, and that’s why I’ve stuck with them for all these years.” 

Serving with AdventHealth has been one of the most satisfying experiences of his life, Hawkins said. “It is a personal satisfaction that money cannot buy,” he said. “Anytime you can do something that’s serving a ministry and a mission like AdventHealth has, that to me – in McDonald’s language – is `the secret sauce.’’’ 

Julie Busch, associate vice president, Marketing and Communications