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Open hearts, innovation and a better Peoria

by Laurie Pillman | Photo by Ron Johnson |

Kevin and Lisa Schoeplein continue to give back to Peoria because of what it gave them: ‘A good life’

Kevin and Lisa Schoeplein’s open hearts and tireless energy have changed the face of medicine in the Peoria area. Still, this community wasn’t the obvious place for the couple to land.

Lisa was born in Las Vegas and raised in Langer, Kentucky. Kevin grew up the youngest of five in Rock River, Ohio.

Kevin, who would go on to become CEO of OSF HealthCare, attributes much of his success to the moral education he received in parochial school.

‘Kevin was a strategic leader.He had a passion to know people personally and develop them’ — Sister Judith Ann Duvall

“I came to realize the importance of learning not only the technical aspects that a good education would provide but the importance of being informed by your values and your orientation around those values,” he said. “Respect and integrity and accountability as the brothers taught to me.”

Friends such as Will Williams of David Vaughn Investments say these values are wired into Kevin’s personality.

“Kevin has no issue whatsoever going against the tide if he feels like it is the right thing to do,” Williams said. “I know him as a risk-taker, always pushing the envelope. An innovator. Never satisfied, and very committed. And tireless. I don’t know where he finds the energy, but he is always on the move.”

And together, Kevin and Lisa Schoeplein are Peoria Magazine Legends.

Connecting with ‘the business side of medicine’

Kevin Schoeplein enrolled in pre-med at St. Louis University but switched to business administration after discovering a love for finance. When his brother-in-law mentioned talking to a hospital administrator, Kevin realized he could combine his interests.

Kevin Schoeplein as a boy in Ohio
Kevin Schoeplein as a boy in Ohio
Lisa Schoeplein in her early years in Kentucky
Lisa Schoeplein in her early years in Kentucky

“I didn’t know that position existed,” he said. “I didn’t know that was the business side of medicine. It connected with me.”

Few colleges offered health care administration courses. Xavier University in Cincinnati required health care work experience that Kevin lacked. At 22, he was seven years younger than the average applicant. Undeterred, he worked as an orderly while earning his MBA in finance, then entered the health care administration program.

He met Lisa through mutual friends. She was studying at nearby Mount St. Joseph University to become a medical technologist. The couple dated for two years while he finished his residency hours and thesis. One week after their wedding, they moved to Peoria, where Kevin had taken a job as assistant administrator at what is now OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. He would spend his entire career at OSF.

“It was a rare aspect of my career to find a professional home that not only welcomed my abilities and knowledge but really created a breadth of opportunities for me to grow in my career over a lifetime,” Kevin said.

A Rising Star

Kevin and Lisa soon welcomed their first two children, Stacie and Molly, into their family. Within a few years, the Schoepleins moved to Rockford, where Kevin had became the CEO of St. Anthony Medical Center. At just 27, he was running the second-largest hospital in the OSF organization.

The Schoepleins and their grandkids
The Schoepleins and their grandkids

Kevin and Lisa had two more children, Christopher and Ashley, in Rockford. When St. Francis was restructured in 1987, the family returned to Peoria for Kevin to take over the OSF Healthcare Foundation and OSF St. Francis Medical Center.

Sister Judith Ann Duvall, O.S.F. and chairperson of the boards for OSF HealthCare, said Schoeplein was the right choice for the organization.

“Kevin was a strategic leader. He had a passion to know people personally and develop them. He had a vision that built a path for us to become One OSF in the service of human life,” Duvall said.

“Culture is key, and Kevin knew that and led OSF, keeping us focused due north on the mission God entrusted to us, never compromising our Catholic identity or Franciscan heritage.”

Family First

Kevin and Lisa’s final child, Matthew, was born in Peoria. Kevin was busy but prioritized family by coaching his daughters’ soccer teams.

Lisa had quit working early in Kevin’s career. Sometimes she would travel with her husband, but most of the time, she kept her children active and volunteered at their schools. Fellow parent Mary Markovich remembers co-chairing auctions with the Schoepleins at Notre Dame High School. 

“Kevin and Lisa are wonderful, supportive parents and friends,” said Markovich. “They are always eager to joyfully add their support to anything asked of them.”

Moving Up the Ladder

In the mid-‘90s, Kevin and Jim Moore became regional CEOs for OSF. Schoeplein took the northern region, staying in Peoria but often traveling to Rockford and Michigan.

“There’s probably a lot of stories out there about my notorious driving,” he said with a chuckle. “I was an early adopter of cell phones. I even had a desk that was strapped into the front passenger seat of my car.”

Between 1999, when Kevin became CEO of OSF Health Plans, and 2017, when he retired as CEO of the health care system, he helped set the future strategy for the insurance arm of OSF, build it, and sell it to Humana in 2008.

Schoeplein was instrumental in creating the first vision of OSF, as well as operationalizing One OSF. He focused the company on value-based care with a single clinical system that connected everything under the OSF umbrella. Under his leadership, OSF Medical Group became part of OSF HealthCare. He helped bring Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, one of the world’s most extensive simulation and innovation centers, to Peoria to educate current and future medical professionals.

“Peoria has a better quality of health care because of the innovation he brought to it,” said former Caterpillar CEO Douglas Oberhelman. “The Jump Innovation Center under him was amazing.”

‘It’s all selfless, really’

After retiring six years ago, Kevin and Lisa have continued the philanthropic leadership they began years ago.

“It’s in their nature to be supportive and to give back,” said friend Beth Salmon. “But always in a quiet way. They don’t need or want attention. They just know it’s the right thing.”

“He was always there when there was a difficult situation in the community,” added Don Johnson, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois. “He was helpful in solving the problem. Always.”

The Schoepleins chaired the Pillar Society Campaign for the Heart of Illinois United Way campaign in 2015, working with staff to raise millions for the Peoria area. They chaired an American Heart Association Gala and created an endowment scholarship at Peoria Notre Dame High School. They founded the Kevin and Lisa Schoeplein Innovation Endowment with OSF and Bradley University to advance research in social health, rural health, and cancer treatment and prevention. They support the Peoria Riverfront Museum, the Peoria Playhouse, and Illinois Cancer Care, among countless other charities.

The ripple effects of their efforts in medicine and education will last for generations.

’Mom was always the one behind the scenes. She did so much for Dad that people didn’t see‘ — Molly Ziegler, daughter

“I think they give back to Peoria because it gave them and us a good life,” said daughter Molly Ziegler. “Dad was very passionate about OSF. He made decisions not only on what would benefit the hospital but the city, as well, because people at OSF became family to him.

“He can be a private guy. He’s not for the flash and notoriety. He wants to be successful, but not in that way. And Mom was always the one behind the scenes. She did so much for Dad that people didn’t see. It’s all selfless, really. Unless you’re with them daily, you wouldn’t know that.”

Ultimately, everything about Kevin and Lisa Schoeplein can be summed up by this thought from Kevin himself:

“I urge everyone to share and give back. Give of your resources, your time, your talent, and your passion as you move through the stages of your career and your life. Allow others to build on the knowledge you can impart to them. The relationships that you create will be invaluable both personally and professionally.”

Laurie Pillman

Laurie Pillman

is an author and freelance writer/editor, based in Peoria