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Drake Law alumna returns to her roots as first woman on Hy-Vee's legal team

September 22, 2015

Shannon Woods’ first job was at Hy-Vee. She grew up in Chariton, Iowa, which was home to one of Hy-Vee’s first corporate offices in the 1940s. And she worked for Hy-Vee all through college.

So it made sense for Woods to return to Hy-Vee, Inc. in 2014 as assistant general counsel and assistant secretary.

“It was a bit like coming home,” she says. “It’s nice to be in a place where I have those rooted connections.”

The first woman on Hy-Vee’s legal team, Woods primarily handles compliance related issues for the company’s numerous pharmacies, health clinics, and medical RV units, as well as Amber Pharmacy, a specialty pharmacy solutions provider and subsidiary of Hy-Vee.

“I feel like here I have the ability to make a difference in a large aspect,” Woods says. “If I realize something’s not compliant and I fix it, I’ve fixed it in 300 pharmacies. How many people do those 300 pharmacies touch in a day? Thousands. So for me, it’s a big impact.”

Woods, a 2003 graduate of Drake University Law School, never planned to go into health law. She worked at Harrison, Moreland, Webber & Woods, P.C. in Ottumwa, Iowa, until 2008, when she opened her own practice, the Law Office of Shannon J. Woods, in Bloomfield, Iowa.

Although her practice was largely dedicated to family law issues, Woods slowly got into other areas, which evolved into health law work.

She also credits being in a small town for giving her the chance to learn a little bit of everything.

“You’re forced to be the general practitioner,” she says. “In hindsight, that was a wonderful quality because it’s allowed me to have a little bit of knowledge about a lot of things. And you’d be surprised how often I use that.”

For instance, a hospital in a smaller community recently had to shut down unexpectedly and needed to use one of Hy-Vee’s medical RVs, called Hy-Vee Healthy You Mobiles. Because the hospital was leasing property from the company, Woods had to create a real estate lease.

“Oftentimes health law issues bring with it other issues – HR, employment law, or even real estate issues,” she says. “So my background has allowed me to manage those.”

In 2013, she and her family moved to the Des Moines area, where she became a member of Whitfield & Eddy, P.L.C. before joining Hy-Vee in July 2014.

Transitioning from private practice was a big change, but Woods says the best part about her position at Hy-Vee is having only one client.

“I get to focus 100 percent of my energy on that one client,” she says. “I get to take however much time I need to do something and do it right. That’s a huge aspect to being in-house.”

Woods was recently selected to Progressive Grocer’s “2015 Top Women in Grocery,” which honors outstanding female leaders within the retailer and supplier communities. She traveled to Orlando in November to accept the award.

While Hy-Vee was her first job, Woods says she has no doubt it will also be her “last job.”

“Hopefully I continue to make a bigger impact,” Woods says. “There will be opportunities for me to do that here, especially as our health footprint grows, our number of pharmacies and clinics grows, and telemedicine becomes more popular. So my aspirations are absolutely to be here, at Hy-Vee.”