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Health Execs on the Move: Cohen’s five-year run as North Carolina’s top health official coming to an end

Gabriel Perna | December 14, 2021

In this recurring article, we track the career moves of the Health Evolution community. For this version, we’re looking at who’s been on the move in November and December  

Politics/Tech/Other 

Mandy Cohen, MD, Secretary of Health and Human Services for the State of North Carolina announced that she is stepping down from the job at the beginning of 2022 after five years as the top health official in the Tarheel State. Cohen, a member of Health Evolution’s Leadership Committee and one of the Co-Chairs for Health Evolution Forum’s Roundtable on Community Health and Advancing Health Equity, has served under North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper since early 2017. “Mandy Cohen has shown extraordinary leadership during her tenure and she has worked every day during this pandemic to help keep North Carolinians healthy and safe,” Governor Cooper said in a statement. “We are stronger because of her efforts and I am enormously grateful for her service. She has built a remarkable team of talented people including Kody Kinsley, and I know he will continue the strong legacy of competence, effectiveness and efficiency as he takes over as Secretary.” Kody Kinsley, current NCDHHS Chief Deputy Secretary for Health, will assume the Secretary role in 2022. 

In her own statement, Cohen said: “It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve this state at such an important moment in history. I am grateful for Governor Cooper’s leadership, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished to improve the health and well-being of the state over the last five years. There is much work still to do, and I am so pleased the Governor selected Kody Kinsley to take the baton to run the next leg of this race.” 11/30 

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra named Lawrence Tabak, PhD, DDS acting director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), effective December 20, 2021. Earlier this year, current NIH director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD announced his decision to end his tenure as the NIH director by the end of the year, and his last day as director will be December 19, 2021. 12/9 

Cerner named Nasim Afsar, MD as its first-ever chief health officer. 11/16 

eMed named Michael Mina, MD as its chief science officer. Mina is a former Harvard professor of immunology, epidemiology and clinical pathology. 11/18   

Former Intermountain Health CIO Ryan Smith joined Graphite Health as its chief operating officer. 12/1   

Greenway Health, a health information technology provider, today announced that Pratap Sarker has been appointed CEO of the company. 12/2 

 

Payers  

David Holmberg, President and CEO of Highmark Health, was named the Board Chair for the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) association, effective January 1, 2022. Holmberg will take the helm from Bruce D. Broussard, President and CEO of Humana, who is serving as AHIP Board Chair through 2021. The AHIP Board also welcomed the following new members: Cain A. Hayes, President and CEO, Point32Health and Eric C. Hunter, President and CEO, CareOregon. 11/18 

Michael Neidorff, long-time CEO of Centene, is set to retire at the end of 2022. The retirement was a part of a deal with activist investor group Politan Capital Management, which also will expand the insurer’s board to 14 seats. Coming onto the board will be five new directors, including Ken Burdick, former CEO of WellCare; Ted Samuels, a former investment executive; Wayne DeVeydt, former CEO of Surgery Partners and former Anthem CFO; and Christopher Coughlin, former CFO of Tyco. Centene and Politan will pick a fifth board member to be named at a later date. Three additional board members– Robert Ditmore, a former UnitedHealth Group executive; Tommy Thompson, former HHS secretary and governor of Wisconsin; John Roberts, a former Arthur Andersen executive–will retire in 2022. 12/14

Evernorth named Christine Gilroy, MD as chief medical officer of Express Scripts,  a large pharmacy benefit manager. 11/22 

The Humana Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Humana, announced the appointment of Tiffany Benjamin as its new Foundation CEO, effective January 3, 2022. 12/7    

Gateway Health Plan, a Medicaid managed care plan, appointed Ellen Duffield as President and CEO effective immediately. Duffield most recently served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Gateway Health. 11/22 

Margaret-Mary Wilson, MD was named the new CMO at UnitedHealth Group replacing Richard Migliori, MDShe stepped into the role on December 5. “I’m honored to be named the next chief medical officer of UnitedHealth Group,” Wilson said in a statement. “This is an incredible time to be in health care and I look forward to working with my 340,000 colleagues to address some of the health system’s critical needs and most exciting opportunities. I’d also like to thank Dr. Migliori for his service, contributions and mentorship.” 11/29 

 

Providers 

Jonathan S. LewinMD, CEO of Emory Healthcare, announced that he will step down from the role at the large Georgia health system. During his five years leading the organization, employment in Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center has grown to approximately 34,000, a 35 percent increase. Health sciences research has experienced 57 percent growth in funding to a total $847 million in 2021. Emory Healthcare has also seen its annual total operating revenue reach $5.5 billion—a growth of more than 80 percent in the past six years. During COVID, Lewin has coordinated with the CEOs of other large health systems to maximize the ability of all systems in the area to provide the best care for the Atlanta community. 11/12 

Akram Boutras, MD is retiring as president and CEO of Cleveland, Ohio-based MetroHealth at the end of 2022. Boutras has been in the role for more than eight years. Under his leadership, MetroHealth grew its employee base from 6,200 to nearly 8,000. He was also credited for increasing minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2019 and providing no-deductible, no-copay health coverage to employees. During his tenure, MetroHealth’s annual revenue grew from $785 million to more than $1.5 billion. Since 2013, the health system has opened two hospitals, three emergency departments, ten community health centers and nine pharmacies. 11/29  

Cleveland Clinic has named Steve Downey as the health system’s Chief Supply Chain and Patient Support Services Officer. 11/16 

Tenet Healthcare named Murali Naidu, MD the CEO of its Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock, California. 11/17  

Steve Edwards is retiring as CEO of Cox Health in Missouri. 11/19 

The Southeast Georgia Health System Board of Directors announced that Scott Raynes will become the health system’s new president and CEO in January 2022. He will succeed Michael D. Scherneck, who will retire after 18 years leading the organization. 11/29 

Bechara Choucair, MD is returning to Kaiser Permanente as its Chief Health Officer after a one-year stint as the vaccinations coordinator on the White House COVID-19 Response Team. 11/30 

Robert Curry announced his impending retirement from Covina, California-based health system, Emanate Health, which will be effective in April 2022. President and CFO Roger Sharma will guide Emanate Health during the transition period and oversee the health care system until a successor is formally announced. 12/1 

Susan Stacey was chosen to lead the Providence Inland Northwest Washington service area of Providence as Chief Executive. 12/1 Also, Ruth Krystopolski was appointed president of Providence’s Ayin Health Solutions subsidiary, a population health company created to share expertise and solutions with other health system. 11/29 

Former Unilever executive Jane Moran is joining Mass General Brigham as its chief information and digital officer, The Wall Street Journal reported. 12/3 

Katrina Armstrong, MD was appointed to CEO of Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center. 12/13 

David E. Phelps, president and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems (BHS), the region’s largest employer, announced he is leaving BHS in early 2022, concluding a 31-year career of service to the local community, with 28 as the system’s CEO. 12/14  

 

Life Sciences 

Stephen Hahn, MD, former FDA Commissioner, is joining Harbinger Health as its new CEO. Harbinger is a spinout from venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering which uses AI for early detection of cancer. Flagship gave Harbinger an initial commitment of $50 million to develop its software platform. “Harbinger Health is poised to redefine our approach to oncology, moving beyond cancer ‘staging’ and toward early detection that enables the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and ultimately to effectively reduce morbidity and mortality associated with the disease,” Hahn said in a statement. Hahn led the FDA from 2019 to 2021. 12/7 

Frank D’Amelio is retiring as Pfizer’s CFO. He spent 15 years at the firm and under his leadership, Pfizer added $150 billion in market cap growth. 11/17 

BD, a medtech firm, hired Joseph Smith, MDPhD as its chief scientific officer. 11/30 

GlaxoSmithKline named Phil Dormitzer, MD, PhD as its global head of vaccines. Dormitzer comes from Pfizer where he was vice president and chief scientific officer. 11/30 

Parthenon Therapeutics, a biotech company which has a class of novel anti-cancer therapies, announced the appointment of Tamas Oravecz, PhD, as Chief Scientific Officer. Oravecz comes from Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Biotherapeutics. 12/1 

Abbott CEO Robert Ford was named chairman of the company’s board of directors on December 10. 12/10 

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