Chutes & Ladders—Amwell names pharma vet to C-suite post; Independence picks up chief people officer

Welcome to this week’s Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please submit the good news—or the bad—from your shop, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.


Brendan O’Grady

Brendan O’Grady is joining telehealth provider Amwell as its new chief commercial and growth officer.

He comes from Teva Pharmaceuticals, where he served as president and CEO of its North America business. His time there also included stints as chief commercial officer of the pharma company’s global specialty medicine division, interim head of its European specialty business, president and CEO of its North America generic medicine unit and other leadership roles.

Prior to Teva, O’Grade held commercial and medical affairs roles at Sanofi predecessor companies and has served on Amwell’s board since 2015.

Now with the telehealth company full time, he will oversee its strategic growth initiatives and head up its business development, sales and commercial enablement, marketing, channel partner and account management teams. He will report directly to chairman and co-CEO Ido Schoenberg.

Independence Health Group

Chutes & Ladders—Amwell names pharma vet to C-suite post; Independence picks up chief people officer
Crystal E. Ashby
Health Group)

Crystal E. Ashby has been tapped as the executive vice president and chief people officer of Independence Health Group.

She joins the payer from a role as the first female interim president and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council, a nonprofit supporting inclusive leadership and the development of Black executives.

Prior to that she was at BP for 22 years, first as a commercial attorney and eventually as its executive vice president of government and public affairs and strategic university partnerships.

Ashby will be leaning on her background of corporate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives as she leads Independence’s human resources division. She will be stepping in at the end of the month for the retiring Jeanie Heffernan, who has held the job since 2011.

Duke Health

Chutes & Ladders—Amwell names pharma vet to C-suite post; Independence picks up chief people officer
Barbara Griffith, M.D.
(Duke Health)

Barbara Griffith, M.D., is stepping down from her role as president and CEO of Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge to take on the present position at Duke Raleigh Hospital.

The move is a homecoming for Griffith, who had joined Duke Health back in 2002 as an attending physician. She eventually served as chief medical officer of Duke Regional Hospital and the president and chief financial officer of its emergency department’s medical practice, Durham Emergency Physicians.

Griffith transitioned to Woman’s Hospital in 2019 and has held the top roles there for the past couple of years. She has a medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and additional executive healthcare education from the Wharton School of Business.

Leigh Bleecker, who served as Duke Raleigh Hospital’s interim president during a lengthy recruitment process, will return to her role as chief financial officer upon Griffith’s arrival.

General Catalyst

Chutes & Ladders—Amwell names pharma vet to C-suite post; Independence picks up chief people officer
Ken Frazier
(Health Catalyst)

Ken Frazier is joining General Catalyst as its chairman of health assurance initiatives, a role the venture capital firm created to ramp up its investments in healthcare and pharma.

Frazier just recently stepped down from his previous role as CEO of Merck, where he spent nearly a decade encouraging the pharma giant to prioritize research and pursue novel vaccines and therapeutics.

At General Catalyst, he’ll be laying out strategy for the firm’s healthcare initiatives, fostering partnerships between healthcare and pharma and targeting health equity opportunities. He’ll also be in control of its $600 million Health Assurance Fund which was unveiled back in April.

Beaumont Health is losing three members of its leadership team in the run up to its merger with Spectrum Health: Carolyn Wilson, chief operating officer; David Wood, M.D., chief medical officer; and Sam Flanders, M.D. Of note, Flanders is joining St. Luke’s Hospital where he has been named to the newly created position of executive vice president for quality, safety and population health.

Facebook’s new director of health technology research is John S. Rumsfeld, M.D., formerly the chief innovation officer as well as the chief science and quality officer for the American College of Cardiology, per LinkedIn.

Talkspace, a virtual behavioral care company, has brought on Eli Lilly vet Jennifer Fulk as its new chief financial officer, effective July 26.

UnityPoint Health has selected CommonSpirit Health’s Doug Watson to serve as its senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Southern Coos Hospital and Health Center has ousted CEO Eugene Suksi in a split board of directors vote, following which the dissenting members resigned from their positions.

Signify Health, an analytics healthcare platform supporting value-based care, has appointed Sam Pettijohn as chief growth officer and Erin Kelly as chief compliance officer.

Komodo Health has named Optum vet Bill Madigan as its new chief revenue officer.

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, part of HCA Healthcare, is saying goodbye to CEO Mitch Mongell, who will be retiring later this year.

Ascellus, a behavioral health provider, has named Brett Cohen as its new chief operating officer.

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has announced Michele Szkolnicki as its new senior vice president and chief nursing officer, starting in September.

Availity, a real-time health information network, has tapped Frank Petito as its new chief financial officer.

Rx Savings Solutions, a tech platform for pharmacy transparency, has picked up Mike Nill, formerly the chief operating officer of Cerner, as a strategic advisor.

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