This Friday and Monday, St. John’s Health Board of Trustees will interview a record 12 candidates to replace Trustee Joe Albright, who is leaving his hospital post after an equal number of years.
Vice Chair Debbie Hopkins leads the board’s nominating and governance committee and said she was “blown away” by the number and variety of candidates. Some are current board advisors who already have a window into senior management decisions. Others are senior managers at the hospital eager to leap a rung. Still others come with corporate backgrounds hoping to direct the hospital’s next major decision: the election of a new CEO.
In their applications, candidates named challenges the hospital faces — from staff morale to employee housing — with a readiness to pitch in with solutions.
Hopkins said those ideas will still be an asset, regardless of who trustees choose; several of the 11 remaining candidates could be picked up as advisors.
The board will decide Albright’s replacement Monday, hours after the final interview. Trustees’ pick will serve until November, when he or she will need to run in a public election for a full four-year term, alongside two other incumbents — Hopkins and Sue Critzer — whose terms also expire then.
Jacksonites have a history of electing interim incumbents, suggesting whoever gets in this round will have a significant advantage in the fall.
“Incumbent candidates with experience have been very well supported by community voters,” said board Chair Cynthia Hogan. “I believe that’s a direct reflection [of] the community’s trust that the board is laser-focused on providing the best care possible.”
In a document detailing “desired attributes” for trustees, St. John’s lists passion, understanding of Jackson Hole culture, deep roots in the community, prior nonprofit experience, familiarity with the economic framework of U.S. health care systems, and time to commit to the role.
The document also states: “St. John’s Health is responding to an increasing demand for expanded services resulting from a historic influx in population, competitive threats to its independence, and of course, the COVID health crisis.”
Health care experience is not required, and the board is open to candidates with backgrounds in quality assurance, finance, technology, real estate, public relations or human resources — categories that each seem to fit a different challenge St. John’s faces.
The interviews will be publicly live streamed. Here is a brief summary of each candidate:
Dr. Marc Domsky is an anesthesiologist and former St. John’s chief of staff from 2015 to 2020 who said he wanted to join the board during this time of “significant transformation” in the health care industry.
“My 18 years as a resident of Teton County have allowed me to connect with a broad cross section of the entire community which has enabled me to understand the many unique perspectives there are regarding SJH,” his application states.
Domsky currently serves on the board’s strategy committee.
Alina DiDonato is the co-founder and senior managing director of Farragut Square Group, a health care consulting company based in New York City and Washington, D.C.
“I am someone who has always gotten a lot of things done,” she wrote. “Knowing that SJH enjoys an active board that works together to accomplish worthwhile things makes me want to contribute my knowledge of healthcare.”
Shannon Brennan was appointed in November to the Teton District Board of Health and told the News&Guide she applied to St. John’s to “support the hospital as it navigates deep change in the future.”
“The key to addressing these challenges is to forecast and continually ensure alignment of the needs and resources, to maintain the culture, and to ‘right-size’ the services provided by SJH,” she said.
Brennan has 30 years of experience in federal service as an engineering management executive and holds a master’s in public administration from the University of South Dakota.
Robert Weiss volunteered with Grand Teton National Park this summer and wrote: “Service as a trustee would be a partial payment forward for the outstanding care my wife had been receiving through the Cancer Center.”
“SJH is a key component of the community’s well being and governing it well is essential to maximizing its impact,” his application states. “I can contribute to the necessary excellence in governance.”
Weiss currently serves on the Teton County Building Appeals Board and as an advisor to the Teton Conservation District Board.
Evan Jones has spent 35 years in health care as an executive and CEO, with several years on the board for Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C, where he helped lead a “successful” CEO search.
In his application, Jones wrote that he wants to “give back to the community” he and his wife moved to in 2019.
“My skills can help SJH grow and achieve its full potential.”
Katharine Conover-Keller is the former 14-year president of the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole. She retired last year and currently serves as an advisor to the hospital board.
“Without St. John’s Health, none of us could live in Jackson Hole,” she wrote in her application. “There is no institution more critical to our lives, and none more deserving of our support, passion and enthusiasm. As an Advisor, I happily devote all three.”
Specifically, Conover-Keller said she wanted to be part of the search for St. John’s Health’s new CEO.
Kathleen Brown is the CHRO of eviCore healthcare, a South Carolina-based health consultant company. She is a new Jackson resident as of April 2021.
“I believe my executive HR skills and experience could prove helpful in the selection and change management of [the new CEO],” her application states.
As one of the valley’s largest employers, St. John’s can set the tone for “best-in-class talent, services and programs for our residents and visitors,” she wrote.
Dr. Pamela Cutler is also a newly full-time resident of Teton County who first came to Yellowstone National Park as a staff physician at Lake Hospital in 1994. Since then she has directed rural emergency departments in the West and spent the last year as president of the Montana Medical Association.
“I intend to live here for the rest of my life,” Cutler wrote in her application. “I am seeking service activities that will use the skills I have to make a contribution.”
Robert Frodeman is an extensively published author of scholarly philosophy articles who wrote that he is “public-spirited” and wants to contribute to the local community.
“I have interest and training in bioethics and public policy,” Frodeman added.
He taught some of those topics as a professor of philosophy for the University of North Texas.
Teresa Principe is a lawyer who founded Atlantic Peak Capital, which manages assets of “several wealthy families throughout the world.”
While still CEO of that firm, she said she wants to dedicate time and resources to “benefiting the greater Teton County community.”
“Especially now during these turbulent and difficult times, where our medical resources are constantly put to the test,” she wrote, “I feel a calling to service and to give back.”
Vicki Rosenberg is a registered nurse who worked in St. John’s education department from 2010 to 2014 and said she was proud to be part of that team.
“I’m a strong believer in the mission, vision, and values of St. John’s Health,” she wrote. “I have a strong, long-time background in healthcare, which helps me to understand the workings of a sometimes-convoluted system.”
She also expressed interest in growing the hospital’s collaboration with Teton County Health Department during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Zia Yasrobi is the founder and owner of Y2 Consultants, based in Jackson. He has served eight years on the Teton County school board, according to his application, as part of a 40-year tenure in town.
“I believe our hospital is one of the crown jewels of our community and with the experience and training I have had over the years I can be a contributing and valuable member of the Board,” he wrote, adding that he’s looking for a way to give back.
This article has been updated to clarify Alina DiDonato's role as senior managing director of Farragut Square Group. She does not serve as CEO of McDermott Will & Emery, the company that bought Farragut Square. — Ed.
“Without St. John’s Health, none of us could live in Jackson Hole.” — Katharine Conover-Keller St. John’s health board candidate