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Dogwood Trust Is Searching For New Chief Executive

Susan Mims, MD

[UPDATED Oct. 29] Dogwood Health Trust is looking for a “seasoned, collaborative and humble executive” to be chief executive officer of the $2 billion private nonprofit healthcare foundation, Dogwood announced Oct. 4. The Asheville-based trust is currently led by Interim CEO Susan Mims.

Dogwood announced plans to interview finalists for the position in December and to select a permanent replacement by early next year. Asked if Sims was a candidate for the permanent CEO position, a Dogwood spokeswoman said, “Out of respect for the confidentiality of all candidates, Dogwood Health Trust will not make that information public.” 

Mims, a physician and public health expert, is a former member of Mission Hospital’s leadership team. She was appointed Dogwood’s interim CEO in October 2020 to replace Antony Chiang, who abruptly left the trust in September 2020, less than a year after he was hired with great fanfare and minutes before he was scheduled to speak at a news conference in Asheville.

In the year since Chiang’s departure, no one on Dogwood’s leadership team has responded to Asheville Watchdog’s repeated questions about Chiang’s sudden departure, and Chiang has not responded to requests for comment.

The Dogwood board selected Chiang from among 125 candidates to become Dogwood’s first chief executive. Witt Kieffer, the Massachusetts-based executive search firm that handled Chiang’s hiring, will once again conduct the search for the next CEO.

The Dogwood Trust was created with proceeds from the sale of the Mission Health System to HCA Healthcare in 2019. The Trust’s mission is to “dramatically improve the health and well-being of all people and communities across 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina.”

In general, a private foundation must distribute 5 percent of its net assets each year to maintain tax-exempt status. Claiming $2 billion in assets this year suggests that Dogwood intends to distribute at least $100 million a year to support housing, education, economic opportunity, and health and wellness in the region. — Peter Lewis

[This news item was updated and corrected Oct. 29 to remove an erroneous assertion that Susan Mims planned to step down when a permanent replacement is chosen. The Watchdog regrets the error.]

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