RWJBarnabas Health taps Lester J. Owens as board chair

Lester J. Owens was tapped as board chair for West Orange, N.J.-based RWJBarnabas Health on June 28, effective immediately, according to a press release sent to Becker's. He is the first African American to hold this position with the system. 

Mr. Owens is a founding member of the board and served as vice chair since 2019. He has also served on its audit, compliance, compensation, nominating and governance, and racism and social justice committees. He is a longtime trustee of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., and served on its compensation, finance, pediatric program and investment committees. 

Currently on the operating committee and the senior executive vice president and head of operations for Wells Fargo & Co., Mr. Owens oversees a team of more than 70,000 employees. 

"I feel very privileged to take on this role at such a pivotal moment for healthcare, as the needs of RWJBarnabas Health's patients, employees, communities and other stakeholders are quickly evolving," Mr. Owens said in the press release. "The system is wholly committed to its mission of improving the health, quality of life and vitality of the community it serves. It has approached this in thoughtful and innovative ways that will benefit all stakeholders for years to come."

Mr. Owens will continue to drive the system's focus on providing healthcare to New Jersey citizens. His priorities include ongoing work to transform the patient experience, advance mental and behavioral health for individuals across the lifespan, and drive social change through strategic programs and policies. He will also work to advance the academic healthcare system, expand partnerships with New Brunswick-based Rutgers University and work with the system's executive leadership to continue building RWJBarnabas Health.

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