Quick Leonard Kieffer Recruits Chief People Officer for FirstHealth of the Carolinas

May 27, 2022 – Talent acquisition strategies at many large companies have become as complex as their balance sheets. And while chief human resource officers play a vital role in overseeing an organization’s broad-based workforce, the chief people officer typically goes beyond overseeing its people policies. The focus instead is on building talent as a key competitive advantage, with more emphasis on culture, which includes values, ethics, and mission.

As companies look to build internal brand awareness and set their sights more on establishing and driving their own unique cultures, CPOs are coming more into vogue. Quick Leonard Kieffer has placed Berni Szczepanski as chief people officer for FirstHealth of the Carolinas, a private, not-for-profit healthcare network headquartered in Pinehurst, NC. Principal Jamie Cassedy led the assignment.

Ms. Szczepanski comes to FirstHealth from Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, where she served for four years as vice president of human resources. Within this 11-hospital, 33,000-employee system, she established critical HR metrics to drive strategic workforce trends, implemented initiatives and community partnerships to increase the diversity of the workforce, fostered high employee engagement to support continuous improvement efforts, partnered with IT to infuse analytics into HR strategy, and built a national recruitment strategy for nursing.

Previously, Ms. Szczepanski served as senior vice president of human resources for Centegra Health System (which merged into Northwestern in 2017); as a senior business analyst and HR consultant for Lawson Software; and in increasingly responsible HR roles with MacNeal Health Network in Berwyn, IL, beginning her career there as a recruiter.

In her new position with FirstHealth of the Carolinas, Ms. Szczepanski will be charged with developing a transformative system-wide strategy for human resources, rendering it a highly disciplined, effective, and efficient function in support of FirstHealth’s vision for the future.

FirstHealth of the Carolinas’s 5,300 employees serve 15 counties in the mid-Carolinas. Licensed for four hospitals with 610 beds, FirstHealth demonstrates says it is committed to treating the whole patient and to providing quality healthcare for the entire community. FirstHealth offers all major medical and surgical specialties and numerous subspecialties, including open-heart surgery, neurosurgery and neonatology. FirstHealth hospitals have an active medical staff of 266 with more than 93 percent board certified.

Related: Quick Leonard Kieffer to Fill Two Key Roles for Centra Health in Virginia

Founded in 1999, Quick Leonard Kieffer is a retained executive search firm with experience finding leaders for hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, healthcare associations, life sciences companies, insurance companies and non-profits, among other clients. The firm is based in Chicago and has a track record of placing C-suite and other senior executives with leading, well-recognized healthcare organizations around the country.

Mr. Cassedy guides day-to-day operations of search assignments to ensure that that they run smoothly and progress to their ultimate goal. He joined the search firm in 2014 and throughout his career has completed over 100 C-suite and senior-level healthcare executive searches in the areas of operations, finance, medical affairs, nursing, human resources, and other disciplines. His clients range from large academic medical centers and healthcare systems to community hospitals, medical groups, associations, and biopharma companies.

Chief People Officer Recruiting

Executive search firms have been stepping up their efforts to assist companies across the nation to find new chief people officers. Here is a look at few recent searches from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:

Daversa Partners, which helps build leadership teams for growth and venture-backed companies, has assisted in the recruitment of Meghan Lapides as the new chief people officer of SmartAsset, an online destination for financial information and advice and a national marketplace connecting consumers to financial advisors. Associate director Emma Sullivan and director Samantha Pernice led the assignment. Joining the company’s executive leadership team and reporting to co-founder and CEO Michael Carvin, Ms. Lapides will oversee and scale a fully integrated people discipline that will help drive aggressive growth and expansion. In this new role, she will be responsible for all aspects of SmartAsset’s human resources department and strategy, including talent acquisition and management, onboarding, leadership development, compensation and benefits, culture and engagement, diversity and inclusion, and employee relations.

Lindauer has helped to place Shari Stier as the new chief people officer for Fenway Health, a Boston-based healthcare, research and advocacy organization that serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. She will assume the role on April 4. Faith Eutsay led the assignment for the search firm. Ms. Stier brings over 20 years of experience, including a track record of building successful staffing recruitment, management and retention strategies grounded in organizational values, transparent communication, and collaborative decision-making. Most recently, she served as senior associate vice president and chief human resources officer at Emerson College.

Global HR search firm Frederickson Partners was recently selected to find a new chief people officer for GRAIL, a healthcare company focused on saving lives and improving health by pioneering new technologies for early cancer detection. The company’s human resources executive will be based in Menlo Park, CA, and will report to the company’s CEO. The new HR leader will be responsible for developing, guiding and growing a forward-thinking function that impacts GRAIL through their next phase of rapid growth and expansion. Founded in 1995, Frederickson Partners has completed over 2,500 HR executive searches and HR consulting engagements, according to the firm, maintaining relationships with more than 10,000 rising and established HR executives worldwide.

San Diego, CA-headquartered executive search firm Bespoke Partners recently placed Kerry Unflat as chief people officer of Zipari, a modern consumer experience solution. Alex Bossetta led the assignment. “In this moment of continued growth and expansion, it’s more important than ever that we ensure our employees have what they need to succeed, inside and outside the office,” said Mark Nathan, CEO of Zipari. “With over 20 years of human resources and talent management experience – much of it with a fast-growing software company – Kerry is the perfect person for the job. We’re delighted to welcome her to the team.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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