In February 2020, Michael Knecht took on the role of president of AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, just as hospitals in the U.S. were preparing for the coronavirus pandemic. With his background as a pastor and hospital executive, he knew the importance of focusing on mission and providing a clear line of communication.

With the uncertain times, Knecht wanted to make sure that all team members felt connected and informed. Along with chief medical officer Larry Botts, MD, he began doing live updates every week for all team members to log in and hear about what was happening at the hospital.

“It’s been a year where there are understandably a lot of questions, and things are happening so fast,” says Knecht. “We wanted to be completely transparent with where things stood and address any concerns as best we could.”

Knecht and Dr. Botts have continued to do the live updates throughout the year. Knecht starts off the videos with a dose of humor and an upbeat song. They feature team members from different departments in the hospital, as Knecht introduces them and thanks them for the care and commitment they bring to their patients.

Each update covers a wide range of topics. Knecht answers questions and provides detailed information about the status of personal protective equipment (PPE), the number of COVID patients, or other statistics from partners around the Kansas City area. He always ends the update asking team members to bow their heads as he leads them in prayer.

Knecht’s ability to lead his team with faith began with his work as a pastor. He graduated with a master of divinity degree from Andrews University in Michigan and later became a pastor at Azure Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church in California. While there, he founded a branch of Azure Hills called Crosswalk Church in Redlands, California, which started as a young adult ministry and grew to become its own church in 2003.

In 2009, a hospital executive at Loma Linda University Medical Center asked Knecht if he would be interested in working in healthcare. The executive had attended Crosswalk and told him that they could use his leadership skills.

“They said if you can lead, we can teach you the business side,” says Knecht. “I wasn’t sure at first, but I ended up talking to him for about a year. After that time, I decided I was ready for the next step in my career with Loma Linda.”

Loma Linda University Medical Center is a faith-based institution, founded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1905. Knecht was named project manager in the department of mission and culture. He went on to become chief experience officer at Loma Linda in 2012. While there, he received his master of business administration degree from Claremont Graduate University in 2014.

In 2015, he made the move to the Kansas City area. Knecht became senior vice president and chief operating officer at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission before being named president in 2020.

In his time at AdventHealth, Knecht says he’s been impressed by the mission and faith-based principles of the health system as well as the team members who make that vision a reality.

“The most rewarding part is seeing how our caregivers can change people’s lives,” he says. “I’m really proud of our culture here. Spirituality is ingrained in who we are.”

For more information about AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, visit