Furst Group Helps the Public Health Institute Find New CEO

December 13, 2023 – Executive recruitment firm Furst Group, which serves the healthcare and insurance industries, has assisted in the placement of Melissa Stafford Jones as the new CEO of the Public Health Institute (PHI) in Oakland, CA. After an extensive and competitive national search, PHI’s board felt that Stafford Jones’s lifelong commitment to advancing health and healthcare for all, her collaborative leadership style, and her deep experience with forecasting and implementing high-level policy and care initiatives made her best positioned to lead PHI into its next phase of transformative public health. “Stafford Jones is a visionary leader with decades of experience in tackling complex, multi-faceted issues in public health,” said Dara Treseder, the chair of PHI’s board. “PHI is already a powerhouse, with a staff of experts and a portfolio of proven interventions. PHI’s board of directors is confident that Melissa’s laser-sharp insights and ability to effectively implement new ideas will guide PHI to even deeper, more sustainable impacts.”

Ms. Stafford Jones has over 30 years of experience working with policymakers and stakeholders on platforms of health and policy matters at the local, state, and national levels. In her most recent position, as director of the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative at the California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS), she worked with CalHHS departments, sister state agencies, and partners and stakeholders throughout the state to reimagine California’s children and youth behavioral health system into an innovative, upstream-focused ecosystem where all children and youth are routinely screened, supported, and served for emerging and existing behavioral health (mental health and substance use) needs.

Ms. Stafford Jones served as a federal appointee in the Obama Administration for HHS Region IX, where she worked with local and state organizations, key stakeholders, and elected officials throughout the region to implement the Affordable Care Act, increase access to health care and social services, and improve the lives and health of diverse communities. As president and CEO of the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems she created the first large-scale pay for performance incentive payment program in Medicaid for California’s public safety net, which was replicated in states across the nation.

“I was drawn to PHI because of its vision to improve health and wellbeing of individuals and communities by addressing our most pressing public health issues,” said Ms. Stafford Jones. “With its commitment to advancing equity, engaging communities, and collaborating with partners, the Public Health Institute has a leading role to play in addressing today’s and tomorrow’s critical public health issues, including growing racial inequities, building a workforce for the future, behavioral health, the climate crisis, and building interconnected systems at the community and policy levels to support health and well-being.”

As one of the largest non-governmental public health organizations in the country, the Public Health Institute has played a pivotal role in improving health and equity, partnering with government, philanthropy and community-based organizations to quickly design, implement and support public health initiatives. PHI oversees an annual portfolio of more than $200 million, powering 60+ programs working in more than twenty countries around the world.

Furst Group, headquartered in Rockford, IL, partners with many of the premier healthcare organizations in the world, from providers and payers to life-science companies and private equity/venture capital firms. While Furst Group’s roots are in managed care, the firm continues to be one of the nation’s leading executive search partners to health systems, hospitals, academic medical centers, post-acute, and hospice and palliative care facilities. Its work with insurers stretches back to the HMO era, yet the firm also teams with life science, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies.

Related: Furst Group Recruits Chief Nursing Officer for Corewell Health East

Furst Group also has offices in Phoenix, AZ; Radnor, PA; San Francisco; Brentwood, TN; Chicago; Irving, TX; Minneapolis, MN; Seattle; St. Louis; and Washington, D.C.

Clever Care Health Plan Search

Earlier this year, Furst Group placed Richard Greene as CFO for Clever Care Health Plan in Huntington Beach, CA. Mr. Greene brings extensive knowledge and experience as a financial healthcare executive. He previously served as chief operating officer/chief financial officer at AppleCare Medical Management (a subsidiary of Optum) and provided financial leadership from 1996 to 2010 as CFO at Arcadian Management Services, Syntiro HealthCare Services, and PacifiCare Health Systems.


“From day one at Clever Care, our mission has been clear: make culturally-sensitive healthcare the norm,” said Myong Lee, co-founder and CEO at Clever Care Health Plan. “Our continual growth reaffirms the need for Medicare beneficiaries to have healthcare plans that uniquely meet their cultural needs. We are thrilled to have Richard join the executive leadership team and are excited for what the future holds.”

Clever Care is a Medicare Advantage plan company. Founded in 2018, the organization’s grassroots movement, made up of seasoned healthcare experts and community advocates, provides Medicare beneficiaries with high-quality, culturally-sensitive Medicare options built on the customs, values, and linguistic needs of the communities they serve. Clever Care is fueled by the benefits of Western and Eastern medicine, backed by extensive networks of in-language service providers, doctors, specialists, and advisors.

Related: Furst Group Secures Chief Quality and Value Officer for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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