Steamboat Springs Brent Boyer
Pilot & Today staff
Lisa Brown can remove the interim label from her position with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.
Brown, who has served as acting CEO of the health care agency since January, has been named its permanent chief executive officer.
The announcement was made Monday and culminates a search process that spanned five months and included more than 40 applicants from across the country, VNA board President and Hayden resident John Merrill said. Brown succeeds former longtime CEO Sue Birch, who left the agency late last year to become executive director of the state’s Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.
Brown had served as the VNA’s director of development since 2009. Prior to that she was the program manager at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. She also is a member of the Steamboat Springs School Board.
“I am very honored to be affiliated with the VNA and all of the amazing people who make our work happen,” Brown said in a news release. “I, along with the rest of the staff, am excited to continue creating community health and wellness throughout tthe region.”
The primary mission of the VNA is to provide wellness care on a number of fronts, from immunization clinics to prenatal care and tobacco prevention. It operates a clinic in Craig that employs two physicians, and a hospice and medical office in Steamboat Springs.
The VNA reaches 27,000 people in Routt, Moffat and Jackson counties. Its 2011 budget is about $8 million. The VNA is funded by local, state and federal governments as well as individual donors and state and national foundations.
Recent VNA projects include The Haven Assisted Living Center in Hayden and the Rollingstone Respite House in Steamboat.
Brown was to be formally introduced as the VNA’s new director during the agency’s annual Hospice Celebration of Life dinner Monday night. The event is the VNA’s largest fundraiser. She could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
Merrill said Brown had a distinct advantage over the other applicants.
“We had been working with her and seen how fine a manager she was,” he said. “We already knew what an excellent fundraiser she was.”
She had been encouraged from her first days as acting CEO to approach the job as if it were hers to keep.
“She was told at the beginning that we didn’t want her just to be a placeholder,” Merrill said. “We wanted her to step in and make tough calls. She didn’t need to be told twice that she was in charge. Her work has been very impressive.”
Brown’s lack of experience in health care could have been viewed as a weakness, Merrill acknowledged, but he said the board quickly realized that no candidate could excel in all areas of the VNA’s programming.
“We have five different foci in this agency,” he said, referring to hospice, senior health programming, public and environmental health, home health and the community health center in Craig. “Nobody except Sue Birch, who essentially was the matriarch of our program, could have experience in all of those areas. Going into it we knew it would be an extremely unlikely chief executive who could hop in and take care of these five very distinct areas.
“We’re very pleased with our decision.”