Creighton law grad assigned leading role at Mayo Clinic
Twenty-four years after graduating from the Creighton School of Law, Christina Zorn, JD’98, will guide a 73,000-employee health care team at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.
On Dec. 1, 2021, Zorn became chief administrative officer of Mayo Clinic, the country’s top hospital for the past six years as ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals guide.
In her new role, Zorn partners with Mayo Clinic President and CEO Gianrico Farrugia, MD, to oversee clinical practice, research and education, as well as the proper functioning of shared services, including development, enterprise risk management, facilities, finance, human resources, information technology, planning services, public affairs and security.
It’s a significant responsibility, Zorn says, but also one she approaches with confidence because of the strength of her team.
“Mayo Clinic hires only the best of the best,” she says. “We have highly talented teams. We seek talent who demonstrate drive, passion and diversity of thought. More so, we prioritize a commitment to values-based service not only to our patients but to each other and our communities.”
The key to her personal success, Zorn says, has been curiosity, courage and a willingness to volunteer for the most challenging projects, characteristics she says were nurtured during her years at Creighton.
“There’s immense value in being curious,” Zorn says. “We should all seek out different passions, expand our interests into different areas, and never stop exploring and learning. Creighton always stimulated and rewarded critical and creative thinking.
“Creighton allowed students to chart their own courses throughout their academic careers,” she continues. “There were so many electives, not to mention the third-year self-study, where I really designed my own research project and curriculum, and where I was able to focus on what interested me. At Mayo Clinic, that kind of innovation is critical to our success.”
In her role as CAO, Zorn is responsible for the financial success of Mayo Clinic and its operations in Minnesota, Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin and Iowa, as well as internationally. While the budget is remarkable, Zorn says it reflects a purpose.
“Mayo Clinic inspires hope and promotes health through integrated clinical practice, education and research,” she says. “We are transforming medicine to connect and cure as the global authority in the care of serious or complex disease.”
For example, Mayo Clinic has been a trusted leader during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayo staff have treated nearly 160,000 COVID-19 patients, administered more than half a million vaccines and provided more than 21,000 monoclonal antibody infusions to date. The way Mayo Clinic cares for its patients is a source of pride for Zorn — as is Mayo’s vision for the future of health care.
The current health care system costs too much, she says, poses obstacles to access and is underperforming from a quality perspective as evidenced by COVID-19 mortality rates in some communities that compare unfavorably even with developing nations. The Mayo strategy for the future focuses on curing, not just alleviating, chronic illness; connecting people and data to make health care more intuitive and convenient; and transforming health care by harnessing the power of the digital revolution to give everyone better access to data and treatment.
“There’s never been a greater need for change in health care,” Zorn says. “And we’ve never been in a better position to drive it forward. I’m confident that over the next few years, we’ll see major progress.”
Zorn joined Mayo Clinic in 2002 as legal counsel. In 2009, she was named chair of the Florida division of Mayo Clinic’s legal department and served as chief administrative officer of Mayo Clinic in Florida for six years before taking her current role.
Prior to joining Mayo, Zorn practiced with the Milwaukee law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, with a focus on health care and transactional law.