Welcome to Category One Inc.



Redefining Excellence Through Baldrige

Success today and in the future requires organizations to consistently drive top-performing results across quality and safety, to redefine the customer and patient experience, and to implement innovative solutions, all while balancing the need to reduce costs and increase stakeholder value.

Excellence is Every, Every, Every (TM).  Every service. Every process. Every patient. Every customer.  Excellence is Every. Never Some.

Through Category One's performance excellence solutions and unmatched Baldrige Framework adoption and integration success, your organization will develop systems, processes, and a culture that can reliability execute at the highest levels, now and in the future.

Snapshot Results:

  • Category One, Inc. has directly assisted 41% of all national Baldrige health care recipients, 3x more than the nearest competitor 
  • ​Several state and/or regional top award recipients

Congratulations to our most recent client recipient real testimonials

Memorial Hermann Sugar Land - 2016 Malcolm Baldrige National Award Recipient

"Category One, Inc. has been a pleasure to work with. Our journey with them began more than 5 years ago and has now culminated in being recognized as a 2016 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient. We could not have had a better experience with Category One. Their approach is one of true collaboration. They took the time to learn and understand the foundational elements of what made our hospital special and worked with us to apply the Baldrige Criteria to enhance our performance and the overall outcomes for our patients.




Passion.  And we mean it. Category One has over 30 years of executive, CEO, and performance excellence experience.  You get us - no junior consultants. We reject complexity and relentlessly focus on making the pursuit of excellence as straightforward and simple as possible. 

Joel H. Ettinger, President and CEO

Joel has served in the leadership staffs of the Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, University Health Center of Pittsburgh (now UPMC), Voluntary Hospitals of America (VHA) Pennsylvania, Allegheny University Hospitals.  He is the only Baldrige advisor to serve as CEO of healthcare organizations. He has served as a member of the Board of Examiners for the Baldrige Award program for 23 years -- one of the longest serving members in the country.

Josh Ettinger, Executive Vice President

Josh Ettinger, Executive Vice-President as served in leadership positions with the Institute of Healthcare Improvement and Johns Hopkins Medicine Center for Innovation.  For nine years he has served as national Baldrige Examiner, with several additional years at various state level programs. 

John Herr, Partner

​John Herr is a key Category One, Inc. partner with expertise in world-class leadership, organizational excellence, and servant leadership.  John Herr is the world’s only CEO to have won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award three times.  This was accomplished at two different organizations, one of which was the first Healthcare organization to win the award twice.

​Kathy Wallace, Partner

Kathy Wallace has a passion for quality improvement and patient safety as well as patient and family engagement and employee engagement in health care.  Kathy has been actively involved in the Baldrige Program for Performance Excellence since 2005.  She has had the pleasure of being a lead in the application process hosting two national site visits in 2006 and 2008.  She is currently an alumni examiner.  Additionally, since 2012 she has served as a judge for The Partnership for Excellence, the regional Baldrige program encompassing Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.

Our Services Help Make a Difference Across All Industries

Culture and Execution : Full Baldrige Framework adoption and integration

​Maximizing the Baldrige Framework goes well beyond submitting an application - it requires fully understanding and integrating the principles into daily work.  CATEGORY ONE, uses a simple and efficient approach to helping all levels of the organization, including leadership, physicians, employees, governance board members, and others, embed the concepts into actions that drive improved performance and transform culture.  This approach is driven, in part, by providing your organization with the knowledge and training to reduce your reliance on external resources to guide the pursuit of excellence.  

Leadership: Guidance on Becoming and Staying an amazing leadership team

CATEGORY ONE has a powerful and unique focus on helping executive teams bridge any team and overall leadership opportunities through coaching, integration of leadership best practices, and the use of Servant Leadership tools and techniques. These approaches enable teams to systematically foster a culture of engagement, high performance, and open communication, e.g.


Gap Analysis: Conducting organizational performance assessments

​​To help understand your organization's current performance excellence state, CATEGORY ONE assesses the effectiveness of existing systems and processes against a combination of best practices from within and outside of the industry. The assessment processes engages all levels of the organization and culminates with a set of clear, relevant, and actionable recommendations for how to strengthen current strengths and address opportunities.​

Design and execution: developing & deploying processes for reliable execution and results

​​Reliable excellence is a basic, yet still elusive performance expectation. Experience has demonstrated that every company has opportunities in key systems and processes, such as waste, variation, and strategic planning (to name a few), that translate to their ability to achieve and sustain the highest levels of performance.  CATEGORY ONE infuses expertise, experience, high performance concepts, and a suite of best-practices to refine, improve, and innovate key organizational systems/processes.  We focus on execution and long-term success.

Award Submission: Application preparation to national and state-level Baldrige programs

​A full range of Baldrige Award support is provided including preparing applications, analyzing Feedback Reports, and a variety of site visit options that are designed to ensure your organization is effectively and efficiently leveraging the learning and actions gained from participating in these programs.

Innovating for Tomorrow: Developing a culture of innovation

​​With the environment and industry rapidly changing, the obligation to transform how your organization operates, how your leaders lead, and how your services and designed and delivered, is even greater.  CATEGORY ONE has spent years studying and helping to implement innovation techniques that result in an organic and powerful approach to establishing and/or enhancing fully deployed innovation as method to redefine possibility and to ensure your organization's long-term success through growth and increased customer value.   

Full Biographies

Biographies (pdf)



Contact Us

Send Message