Local Loyalty

larry heydon brings unique attributes to bear as
ceo of johnson memorial health

By Jon Shoulders

»In another life, there’s a decent chance Larry Heydon would have been an architect. He’s always had an affinity for the profession and even recently took a couple of drafting courses at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “I love the construction and building aspects, to see something that starts with a simple movement of dirt to an actual finished building,” he says. “It’s interesting to me to see something through from just an idea to a complete reality, and all the obstacles that come along with that.”

Although not in the architectural trade, Heydon, 50, has had ample opportunity to channel that interest in overcoming challenges and bringing concepts to completion in his current role as chief executive officer at Johnson Memorial Health in Franklin, as well as his involvement with multiple Johnson County community organizations. “It was a challenging time for everyone when I took the torch as CEO in 2008, when the economy wasn’t great,” he says. “Luckily, Johnson Memorial has wonderful people, and the organization has gotten stronger and stronger. Seeing how it has grown, and the growth that Johnson County as a whole continues to have, whether it’s business or residential, is great. We’re situated very well in the Indianapolis market.”

After graduating from Butler University with an accounting degree, Heydon, an Indianapolis native and Lawrence North High School graduate, chose to remain in the city where he grew up and joined the Indy branch of the accounting firm Ernst & Young. It was during those early professional years that he became exposed to the health care industry, where he has thrived in Johnson County for the past 16 years. “A lot of my clients at Ernst & Young were health care clients, so it was a natural migration to the health care side,” he says.

Following positions with Indiana University Health and George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Heydon and his wife, Jodie, now a first-grade teacher at Pleasant Grove Elementary School in Greenwood, returned to Indiana in 1996, and four years later he joined Johnson Memorial Health as chief financial officer. He has since earned his master’s degree in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University and says he and Jodie have become more enthusiastic about Johnson County with each passing year.

“Johnson County was somewhat new territory for me even though I grew up in Indianapolis,” Heydon says of his initial move to the southside. “It’s been nothing but a great ride, and Johnson Memorial Health has been so good to me, with so many great people.”

Heydon found that not only his experience in health care settings but also his accounting background would come in handy. “I learned how complex health care is, where you’re relying on third-party payers, and transactions are complex because insurance is involved,” he says. “That’s where my financial and accounting background helps because you’re reporting information and doing a lot of gathering, and much like gathering financial information we’re gathering clinical information that we have to produce in a format the government can understand. So there are a lot of parallels between financial reporting and the clinical reporting that we’re subject to now.”

Sandi Huddleston, chairwoman of the Johnson Memorial Health Board of Trustees for nearly eight years, says Heydon’s optimism, combined with his experiences in accounting and finance, make him a perfect fit for his CEO role. “He works well with the physicians and employees, and they’re very open with him to try new things,” she says. “He’s always positive and on the upbeat.”

On the executive committee of Johnson County Development Corp., Heydon was able to further channel his passion for developing ideas into full-fledged fruition during an eight-year term that ended in January. “We looked to Larry to be the face of Johnson Memorial Health, and he’s branched out in the community,” Huddleston says. “He’s willing to approach problems in different ways and be open to different solutions.”

Heydon considers the creation of Aspire Johnson County, of which he was co-founder three years ago, one of the JCDC members’ finest achievements. Aspire was created to assist in bringing businesses and collaborative partnerships to the county, and one of the group’s recent projects involved researching and planning for optimal land use in light of the planned Interstate 69 expansion on State Road 37. “A lot of effort is going on in different areas and pockets, and what Aspire tries to do, which is my philosophy for the business world, is collaborate as much as you can, realizing that no one person and no one organization can do it all and meet all the needs,” he says. 

Heydon ascribes much of his success to his strong relationship with Jodie, whom he met during high school years. They celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary in June. “She understands that sometimes there are late hours at the hospital and that I’m very active and involved in community activities,” he says.

As a staunch fan of athletics — he played football at Lawrence Central and at Butler — Heydon coached no fewer than 24 of his kids’ sports teams throughout the years, including softball, baseball, football and basketball, and values the discipline and selflessness he feels organized sports can instill. “You’d figure after 24 teams there would be a championship in there, and with one of my son’s basketball teams, which was the 24th and last team I coached, we won a league title,” Heydon says. “It’s not all about championships of course, but that one felt good.”

As their children move toward completion of their undergraduate degrees — Drew is a senior majoring in accounting at Ball State University and Mallory a sophomore studying community health at Indiana University in Bloomington — Heydon says he and Jodie enjoy golfing and exploring the Indianapolis and Johnson County live music scenes during their newfound free time. “The weekends over the last 20 years were mostly all about traveling for the kids’ sports teams and cheerleading competitions, so it’s a transition now that we have a little time to explore the great variety of golf courses around the area and the state, and do things like that,” he says. 

In addition to the strong support of his family, Heydon is quick to acknowledge another factor as instrumental in his career progressions and successes through the years — colleagues willing to work hard toward common goals. “My career has been pretty fluid as far as being able to move up and advance, and I’ve always been surrounded by good people,” he says. “The people at Johnson Memorial are just the best. When I look back on my career thus far, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different kinds of environments and certainly learned from all of them.”