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Health care execs on the move: Frazier, Wichmann retiring

Gabriel Perna | February 10, 2021

In this recurring articlewe track the career moves of the Health Evolution community. For this version of the column, we’re looking at who’s been on the move in January and early February. If you recently made a move in this space, let us know here. 

Life Sciences 

Ken FrazierKenneth C. Frazier, CEO of Merck, announced he will be retiring at the end of June 2021. Frazier has been the chief executive at Merck since January 2011 and has been with the company since 1992. He will be replaced by Robert M. Davis, Merck’s current executive vice president, global services and chief financial officer. Frazier will remain as Executive Chairman for an undetermined amount of time.  

Frazier was one of the few Black CEOs on the Fortune 500 and was an outspoken advocate for health and racial equality. In 2017, he resigned from the White House Manufacturing Advisory Board after President Trump failed to denounce white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Last year, he made headlines after the George Floyd police brutality incident, when noting that it could have been him or any black man.  

Wishing Ken Frazier all the best as he writes the next chapter of his story. Always leading with integrity and courage, I know he will continue to be a thoughtful and effective advocate for patients and innovation in his role as executive chairman at @Merck,” Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, said in a tweet. 

“Ken is one of our greatest, game-changing leaders in business. He’s led @Merck with grace and humility while staying true to the company’s values and to his own. His is an indelible legacy and I’m proud to call him a friend,” wrote Robert F. Smith, CEO & Chairman Vista Equity Partners2/4/21 

At Editas MedicineJames C. Mullen will succeed Cynthia Collins as Chief Executive Officer, effective February 15, 2021. 2/8 

Moderna has nabbed Corinne Le Goff, Pharm.D. as its new Chief Commercial Officer. 1/8 

SI-BONE, a medical device company based in Santa Clara, named Laura Francis as its CEO. She succeeds Jeff Dunn, who will become Executive Chairman. 1/7 

 

Payers 

David S. Wichmann announced his retirement as CEO of UnitedHealthcare on February 4, with Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of United’s subsidiary, Optum, named as the successor. The transition was effective immediately, although Wichmann, who has been CEO of UnitedHealth since 2017, will continue with the company through March to aid with the transition. UnitedHealth Group announced that Dirk McMahon has become the company’s president and chief operating officer. 

“As we have come to know firsthand during his time at UnitedHealth Group, Andrew Witty combines an extraordinary breadth and depth of health care experience, sophisticated strategic thinking and outstanding leadership development skills, making him uniquely well-positioned to help the company take the next steps on its steady path to grow and deliver for its shareholders and the customers and people we are privileged to serve,” Stephen J. Hemsley, chairman of the UnitedHealth Group Board of Directors, said in the news release announcing the move.  2/4 

Listen to David Wichmann: Engaging Consumers to Drive Value and Sustainable Health Care Economics 

Lyra Healthprovider of mental health care services for employers, announced the addition of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina executive Danielle C. Gray to its Board of Directors. 2/4 

Carevive Systemsan oncology-focused health technology company, has appointed Bruno Lempernesse as CEO. 2/4 

Tom Croswell, CEO of the newly combined organization of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care will retire this summer. 1/28 

Humana named Nwando Olayiwola, MD, as its first chief health equity officer. Dr. Olayiwola will start on April 5. 1/26 

Oscar Health, which filed for an initial public offering in February, announced a few executive moves as well. Alessa Quane was named as its Executive Vice President and Chief Insurance Officer and Sameer Amin joins the company as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer1/25 

CVS Health announced that Laurie Havanec will join the company as Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer 1/11 It also named Kyu Rhee, MD, the Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Aetna. 1/21 

Mike Cotton resigned as president and CEO of SelectHealthwhich is Intermountain Healthcare’s health plan. 1/21 

Health Care Service Corporation made a number of moves in January, most prominently promoting Opella Ernest, MD to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. 1/19 

 

Providers 

Walgreens announced Rosalind Brewer as the new CEO of the company, effective March 15. Brewer is currently the COO of Starbucks and will succeed Stefano Pessina. Brewer will be the only Black woman CEO on the Fortune 500 and the third in history. 1/26 

Broward Health in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida named Shane Strum, chief of staff to Gov. Ron DeSantis, as its next President and CEO. 2/9 

Martin J. Massiello was named president and chief executive officer of Eisenhower Health. 2/4 

Providence named interim CFO Greg Hoffman as its permanent replacement for former CFO Venkat Bhamidipati.  1/19 Also at Providence, Amy Compton-Phillips, MD, has been named President of Clinical Care and Rhonda Medows, MD, has been tasked with heading up the organization’s Home and Community Care division1/27  

Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of New York City’s public health system today announced the appointment of Helen Arteaga Landaverde as the CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and Neil J. Moore as CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens. 1/29 

Jake Henry Jr. announced his retirement as president and CEO of Saint Francis Health System in Oklahoma 1/28 

Ken Bacon has been named president and CEO for AdventHealth’s Multi-State Division, which spans five regions comprised of 20 campuses across eight states. 1/27 

Centra President and Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Mueller, MD, submitted his resignation1/26 

Mark LaretCEO of UCSF Health, who lead the organization for two decades and helped transform it to a multibillion-dollar clinical enterprise, announced his retirement at the end of 2021. 1/25 

Read more from Mark LaretCEOs share early COVID-19 lessons learned to prepare for the next outbreak 

Mark Altair was named the CEO of Altair Health, a Morristown, N.J.-based physician-managed health care system1/25 

Cone Health CEO Terry Akin is leaving the organization in mid-2021. The organization is closing its merger with Sentara Healthcare, but Akin says the decision to leave is a personal decision. He has been Cone’s CEO since 2014. 1/14 

 
Other  

Susan DeVore, longtime CEO of group purchasing organization Premier, is stepping down from the role in the Spring. She will be replaced by Michael J. Alkire, president of Premier. DeVore was at Premier for 18 years and was the chief at the company for 12 years. Alkiere helped increase Premier’s group purchasing portfolio from $40 billion in 2012 to $67 billion today, 

“Susan is an outstanding CEO whose formulation and execution of Premier’s strategy has been instrumental in establishing the company as an industry leader,” Terry Shaw, CEO of AdventHealth and Chair of Premier’s board, said in a statement. “I believe Mike is the ideal person to lead the ongoing evolution of Premier’s long-term strategy. He is a talented executive and strong leader who has played a key role in driving Premier’s growth and success.” 2/2 

Cecilia Health has named Mark Clermont to succeed David Weingard as CEO; Weingard will serve as Executive Chairman. 2/9 

Adam Harrison has joined California’s nonprofit health data network, Manifest MedEx as its first Chief Growth Officer. The network currently spans more than 25 million Californians, 120 hospitals, 700 ambulatory care sites, and seven health plans. 2/8 

Virta Health, a tech company focused on diabetes care management, named Alok Bhushan as Chief Financial Officer. 2/3 

Harmony Healthcarewhich provides non-clinical staffing solutions to health care organizations, today appointed Randy Verdino as CEO. 2/1 

Health Prime appointed Pranil Vadgama as the company’s CEO and President1/28 

Fern Health, a digital health company specializing in virtual musculoskeletal pain programs, named Brad Lawson as its CEO. 1/26 

About the Author

Gabriel Perna, Senior Manager, Digital Content

Gabriel Perna is the Senior Manager of Digital Content at Health Evolution. He brings 10+ years of experience in covering the intersection of health care and business. Previously, he was at Chief Executive, Physicians Practice and Healthcare Informatics. You can reach him via email at gabrielp@healthevolution.com or on Twitter at @GabrielSPerna