Why Sanford Health's CEO is opting for a lean exec team

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Sanford Health President and CEO Bill Gassen is making leadership changes as he nears one year at the helm of the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based health system, according to siouxfalls.business, a digital news organization.

Mr. Gassen sent an email to employees Oct. 18 outlining the changes following executive vice president Micah Aberson's decision to leave Sanford at the end of October. Chief People Officer Darren Walker, who at one time reported to Mr. Gassen, also left for other opportunities in recent weeks, and Sanford leaders Bill Marlette, treasurer, and Randy Bury, president and CEO of Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, who has served in various other leadership roles, plan to retire in December, according to siouxfalls.business.  

"I am committed to having good succession plans in place to ensure stability and continuity within our leadership team when changes occur," Mr. Gassen wrote in his email, which was shared with Becker's.

Mr. Gassen's new five-member leadership team is:

  • Matt Hocks, executive vice president and COO, who continues to lead technology services,
  • Michelle Bruhn, executive vice president, CFO and treasurer, who will take over Mr. Marlette's responsibilities
  • Jennifer Grennan, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, who leads human resources, legal, risk and compliance functions
  • Nathan Peterson, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, who will continue to oversee Sanford Health Plan and the health system's strategic planning, enterprise project management, data and analytics and corporate governance functions
  • David Shulkin, MD, executive vice president and strategic adviser

Mr. Gassen does not anticipate filling Mr. Aberson's position, according to siouxfalls.business.

"I like the idea of a smaller leadership team and would prefer to concentrate our efforts on those in the operational ranks and in the clinical portions of the organization as opposed to developing a really large executive team," he told the news organization. "I'd rather stay lean at the top and allow our investments to be made where the care is provided."

According to siouxfalls.business, Mr. Hocks, Ms. Grennan, Ms. Bruhn and Mr. Peterson will split Mr. Aberson's chief duties. 

A new president and CEO of Good Samaritan, which merged with Sanford in 2019, has not been named.

  

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