Dawn Bulgarella recognizes the value of continued learning and willingness to adapt to changes in her industry as key factors in effective leadership. Bulgarella serves as the CFO of the UAB Health System and senior associate dean of administration and finance at the School of Medicine.
Bulgarella has over 25 years of experience in operations and finance. Prior to serving UAB, she received her undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Alabama and Master’s in Healthcare Administration from UAB. She is a licensed CPA in the state of Alabama and was previously employed with the Ernst & Young accounting firm. She recalls observing how her colleagues in the private sector handled stressful moments with poise as well as their willingness to mentor others as leaving a lasting impact and shaping how she serves in her career.
Today, Dawn Bulgarella is responsible for combined budgets nearing $3 billion. She monitors the financial status of UAB’s budget and provides oversight of the financial performance of departments, including a 1,157-bed public teaching hospital, the only specialty hospital in the state focusing on eye care and a faculty practice plan of an estimated 1,300 employed physicians. She uses her skills and experience gained from serving in all areas of accounting to maximize performance across UAB Medicine.
As a liaison for the medical school, Dawn has cultivated and deepened relationships across the entire campus by participating in the recruitment of department chairs and senior leaders. She remains highly engaged as a member of multiple organizational boards and committees. She is a liaison and general business officer to the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Business Affairs.
Bugarella has experience in adjusting and adapting to industry changes for the betterment of UAB. When asked how she adapts to those changes she said, “The industry has experienced tremendous change over [her 25 years with the organization], particularly with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. To be effective in the area of healthcare finance, it now takes a knowledge base of more than just ‘debits and credits.’ Having skills or expertise in operational and workforce challenges, insurance reimbursement, strategic planning and even consumerism are almost a necessity.”
Outside of Mrs. Bulgarella’s incredible leadership at UAB, she values giving back.
“My husband, Joe, and I are members of the Tocqueville Society of the United Way of Central Alabama. We are firm believers in giving back to others and this allows us the opportunity to both direct funding to a variety of charities as well as provide opportunities for “hands on” volunteer activities,” Bulgarella told Yellowhammer News.
She credits years of experience coupled with valuable mentors for her success.
“My years of experience are helpful, but the wisdom and guidance of the strong leadership team of Drs. Ray Watts, Selwyn Vickers and Will Ferniany are what has really helped me in tackling challenges and participating in leading our enterprise forward,” she said.
Bulgarella’s love for her family is evident as she shared, “The love and support of my husband and children have allowed me the career success that I have achieved. Having a successful career as a wife and mother is a balancing act. My family has kept me grounded and encouraged me along the way. They deserve the recognition more than I do!”
Bulgarella feels honored and inspired when reflecting on the Woman of Impact designation.
“When I think about a Woman of Impact, I think about someone that moves things forward, someone that works to make a difference, someone that positively influences others. I think about a woman that is paving the future for other women. Within UAB Medicine, it is my role to solve problems, to find a way to ‘yes’ when faced with financial challenges, to support the important work of our faculty and staff. I am grateful for the support of these individuals and that of our board members in allowing me to serve in this role,” she told Yellowhammer News.
When asked how she would guide future female leaders, Bulgarella shared, “I think the best advice may be the simple things that we’re taught from our earliest years: do the right thing, treat each other well, live a life you can be proud of. Specific to pursuing a career path, I would advise young women to seek out companies or organizations where they can see other women succeeding. Once you’re there, actively seek mentorship to help recognize opportunities for personal growth and identify personal ‘blind spots.’”
Yellowhammer News is proud to name Mrs. Dawn Bulgarella a 2019 Woman of Impact.
The 2nd Annual Women of Impact Awards will celebrate the honorees on April 29, 2019, in Birmingham. Event details can be found here.