Chutes & Ladders—Mass General Brigham picks chief academic officer; Centene unveils chief growth 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.

Mass General Brigham

Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson, M.D. (Mass General Brigham)

Mass General Brigham, a nonprofit integrated academic healthcare system with a research enterprise boasting a $2 billion annual budget, has tapped Paul Anderson, M.D., as its newest chief academic officer. Anderson served in the role on an interim basis since January.

He will be responsible for overseeing all teaching and research efforts in a system that conducts more than 2,700 active clinical trials.

Anderson is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and serves as the senior vice president of research and education and interim chief academic officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He also worked as associate chief of the division of rheumatology, inflammation and immunity before being appointed as interim chief academic officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2015. He will continue to serve as interim chief academic officer at Brigham and Women’s until a replacement is found.


Centene Corporation is transitioning Wade Rakes from his current position into a new role as chief growth officer. He currently serves as plan president and CEO of its Georgia-based subsidiary Peach State Health Plan and will work in both roles until a replacement is found. He will remain as Peach State’s board chair.

Wade Rakes
Wade Rakes (Centene)

He is expected to “leverage his extensive Medicaid business development and health plan leadership” to expand across existing products and identify growth opportunities, according to a release.

Rakes began his career at Showtime Networks, working as a business analyst and marketing manager. He then moved to Ohio to work in the governor’s office as director of public liaison. At Centene, Rakes served as business development vice president for nearly six years before adding the global chief diversity and inclusion officer title to his name in 2016. He switched to his current position in 2020.

Eric Lail announced on LinkedIn he is joining Centene as a director of media and public relations.


Nikole Benders-Hadi
Nikole Benders-Hadi, M.D. (LinkedIn)

Talkspace, a virtual mental health provider with a network of more than 4,000 clinicians, has selected Nikole Benders-Hadi, M.D., as the company’s newest chief medical officer.

She will lead the group’s clinical practice, helping grow and expand the company’s footprint. Talkspace said her professional background will be “pivotal in elevating the company’s clinical offering,” according to a press release.

Benders-Hadi spent six years at Rockland Psychiatric Center and nearly six years at Doctor On Demand. For the last couple years, she served as vice president and medical director of behavioral health for Included Health, the rebranded and merged company combining Doctor on Demand and Grand Rounds.

> Families USA, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to affordable healthcare, announced Friday that Executive Director Frederick Isasi has stepped down, effective Dec. 31. A national search for Isasi’s replacement will now begin.

> Brightside Health, a telehealth platform delivering mental health care, has appointed Matt Mohebbi as head of AI and research.

> Sutter Health, a nonprofit healthcare network in Northern California, has appointed Brad Heaton as CEO of the surgery center division, a position he has held in the interim since June.

> Pennsylvania Hospital, part of Penn Medicine, has named Alicia Gresham as CEO, effective Jan. 2.

> Children’s Wisconsin, an independent healthcare system in Milwaukee and Neenah, Wisconsin, has announced that President and CEO Peggy Troy is resigning by the end of December 2024.

> Southwest Healthcare, comprised of five acute care hospitals in California, has selected Chris Tiongson as its newest CFO.

> Trinity Health, one of the country’s largest nonprofit Catholic health systems, is welcoming Corinne Francis to its executive leadership team as vice president and chief mission integration officer.

> Ardent Health Services, a healthcare provider in Tennessee, has picked Anika Gardenhire as the company’s first chief digital information officer. The provider also hired Joe DeSchryver as president of Ardent’s Americas region.

> Equality Health, a value-based care company, has appointed former President Barack Obama senior adviser Stephanie Cutter to its board of directors.

> Central Maine Healthcare, which consists of Bridgton Hospital and Rumford Hospital, has named Stephany Jacques as president of both hospitals.

> Saint Luke’s Health System, a faith-based, nonprofit health system in Missouri and Kansas, has been named president, effective Nov 1. Current President and CEO Melinda Estes, M.D., will continue to serve as CEO.

> The Washington State Hospital Association has selected Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn as its board chair.

> ECU Health, based in North Carolina, has named Jenny Markham as chief legal officer for the health system.

> Appalachian Regional Healthcare, a nonprofit health system with hospitals in Kentucky and West Virginia, has named Byron Gabbard as CFO.

> The University of Florida College of Nursing as tapped Shakira Henderson as the school’s sixth dean in the college’s 67-year history.

> Intermountain Health, a nonprofit system throughout Colorado, Utah, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, Kansas and Wyoming, has named Clay Ashdown as its new CFO.

> Vilya, a biotechnology company developing medicines targeting disease biology, has appointed Cyrus Harmon as CEO. Harmon will join the board of directors, along with the company’s co-founders. Vilya has also formed a scientific advisory board consisting of six members.

> Polsinelli, an Am Law 100 law firm, has hired Ronke Fabayo as counsel to its nationwide health care department based in Atlanta, joining the firm after 13 years with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.