HCA Healthcare
February 18, 2019

SOURCE: Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE — Dogwood Health Trust, the successor foundation to manage some $1.5 billion from the HCA Healthcare acquisition of Mission Health, took the first step Friday toward identifying its first chief executive.

The organization's board said it hired Oak Brook, Illinois-based Witt/Kieffer to assist in its CEO search. The firm will work along with Dogwood's 11-member board as well as a search committee to select the leader that will shape the organization and its funding strategies in its infancy.

Dr. John Ball, the ex-Mission board chair now leading the CEO search committee for Dogwood, said in a news release the board is "very fortunate" to work with Witt/Kieffer given both its expertise and resources. It was ranked No. 18 last year in Forbes' list of best overall executive recruiting firms for its work identifying leaders of hospitals and health systems, universities and not-for-profit organizations.

"Their work with some of the world’s best-known and respected healthcare and not-for-profit organizations will be invaluable in helping us identify the perfect individual to lead Dogwood Trust through its initial stages into a long and sustainable future," Ball said.

Dogwood was formed by Mission leaders in May and publicly launched in July.

It has been billed as one of the top benefits for Western North Carolina residents in the deal by Nashville, Tennessee-based for-profit HCA in acquiring Mission's not-for-profit six-hospital system. Once fully operational, the private, nonprofit foundation will award $50 million to $75 million annually to fund initiatives related to social determinants of health, a broad category of environmental factors that impact an individual's health such as affordable housing or poverty.

Ahead of the deal's closure last month, however, Dogwood was met with criticism for the composition of its board, which critics say lacks racial, gender and geographical diversity — as well as a clear separation from Mission.

Of its first nine members, only two of its members were female, six were from Buncombe County and five were past chairmen of the Mission board. It since added two more women to its board from Buncombe and Henderson counties, respectively.

This map shows changes to be made to the Dogwood Health Trust board. Stars represent existing members. Arrows show members to be added. (Photo11: N.C. Department of Justice)

Under the agreement negotiated with state Attorney General Josh Stein, the Dogwood board must by January 2020 have no more than five members from any one county. By 2021, it must have no more than four members from any one county.

Julie Rosen, who leads the not-for-profit practice at Witt/Kieffler, was quoted as saying Friday that Dogwood is "positioned to be a dynamic, life-changing organization" for WNC residents.

"Their work addressing the social determinants of health will be transformational for communities throughout this region, and we're eager to identify a dynamic individual to lead those efforts," Rosen said.