Tolan Group Names President and Operations Strategist

Substance abuse is an explosive problem sweeping across the U.S., and it is leading to a massive talent shortage in the C-suite of many behavioral healthcare organizations setting out to tackle it. One search firm has taken note, elevating an expert in the field as its new president. Here’s the backstory on this burgeoning new mandate for recruiters.
Tolan Group President Diana Ramsay, COO Kaye Johnson

January 4, 2018 – To support its growth strategy in the expanding behavioral healthcare sector, executive search firm The Tolan Group has announced two key promotions heading into 2018.

Diana Ramsay, who leads the firm’s behavioral health, human services and substance abuse practice, has been named president of the firm and will be responsible for its overall growth strategy.

Kaye Johnson has been named chief operating officer and will oversee operations and work execution.

“Diana is an amazing executive who has significant expertise in growing and scaling multiple organizations spanning over two decades,” said CEO Timothy Tolan. “She is a thought leader in behavioral health, human services and substance abuse and we are thrilled to have her leading all growth initiatives of the firm.”

Leveraging Experience

As CEO of multiple behavioral health organizations for over two decades, Ms. Ramsay knows the challenges of finding great talent. She is an expert in behavioral health working at the board level with a special interest and understanding of governance, mergers and acquisitions and philanthropy. She joined the firm in September.

“It is phenomenal to have the opportunity to transform 20 years of executive experience into helping CEOs find a solution to what is arguably their most critical undertaking,” said Ms. Ramsay. “In this new role, I look forward to drawing from my experience to scale the operations of the Tolan Group.”


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Ms. Johnson, for her part, has worked on numerous C-level executive placements, as well as EVPs, SVPs and VPs in marketing, sales, operations and finance. She has also placed dozens of individual contributors in sales, marketing, product management and technical areas. Ms. Johnson has been with the Tolan Group since 2015.

Related: Lois L. Lindauer Searches Names New CEO

“Kaye Johnson has extensive experience in driving our search execution and the overall day to day processes of the firm,” said Mr. Tolan. “I am excited to have Kaye managing our firm’s operations, knowing she will do an outstanding job.”

Ms. Johnson said she welcomed the opportunity of her new role. “The Tolan Group’s strategy has never been more compelling as we continue to master our craft in finding our clients the best talent in the shortest amount of time,” she said. “I am honored to have the pleasure of working with Tim, Diana and the team to realize the highest of aspirations for the company.”

Established Recruiters

The Tolan Group, a member of the Sanford Rose Associates network, provides executive search services to clients and candidates servicing the healthcare IT industry. Sanford Rose has over 70 offices worldwide with locations in North America, Latin America and Asia.

Related: O’Rourke and Associates Names President

Ms. Ramsay recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media and discussed her new role as well as what is going on in her search practice.

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Diana, how do you plan to leverage your behavioral health executive experience in your new position as president.

Since I began my career in executive search last August, I have spent 65 to 70 hours a week converting my relationships with behavioral health executives, board members and industry leaders from that of colleague to partner. My reputation, CEO experience, and relationships with these individuals have provided me the opportunity to partner with them in their quest to build strong and effective leadership teams. Over the years I have singled out some of the most talented and dedicated professionals focused on behavioral health. They represent a wide range of industries, including finance, law practitioners, M&A, insurance and fundraising. One of my first steps in my new career was to build a collaborative partnership with each of those individuals or their organizations.

“Search firms need to help organizations move toward a more broad-based blended workforce. A large part of this will be interim contract workers, including positions in the C-suite.”

How has your past experience prepared you for your current role?

I believe the diversity of my experience in behavioral health is most valued by CEOs and board members. In addition to serving as board chair of the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems and heading up its strategic planning committee for three years, I have also served as chair of the governance committee of several prominent boards. I can often be very helpful to CEOs and board chairs as they strive to develop their governance committees, policies and procedures. Of course, my extensive experience as CEO and COO of large behavioral health organizations suggests to my partners that I know what they need and want in their key leadership positions. This particularly holds true having served as EVP/COO of the Sheppard Pratt Behavioral Health System for 12 years, overseeing the operations of psychiatric hospitals, partial hospital programs, community rehabilitation/housing programs, outpatient treatment, vocational programs, special education schools, community hospital contracts, substance abuse and eating disorders programs. It is this experience that inspires confidence that I can identify leadership candidates that “fit” with the culture and complex nature of non-profits. Above all, there is no doubt that my greatest leverage is in my life passion for the great work that is accomplished in behavioral health organizations. I have found that in the eyes of many CEOs my clinical background seems to be an important attestation to that as well.

What led you to exploring a career in executive search?

My greatest focus as a CEO or COO was always on having the right leaders in the right positions. I realized having served in these positions for more than two decades that I could have a broader impact on the behavioral health, human services and substance abuse sectors by bringing my experience and knowledge to bear in helping organizations build highly effective teams.

What are some of the challenges ahead for executive recruiters focusing in behavioral health and substance abuse?

The greatest challenge for executive recruiters is in having the knowledge and experience necessary to accurately match candidates to the position. Behavioral health and substance abuse non-profit organizations are highly complex with unique cultures and governing boards. It is critical that the recruiter have a deep understanding of the board expectations and culture, especially when placing a CEO candidate. I have heard frustration from executives that search firms don’t take the time to know and understand the operations and culture of their organizations. The sense of some of these organizations is that the search firm is often solely focused on skills, only one measure of future candidate success.

Can you provide an overview of the current state of search within the behavioral health and substance abuse sector?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook forecasts that employment growth for substance use and behavioral health counselors is increasing faster than in many other occupations. Projected increases in behavioral healthcare jobs are stunning. Substance use and behavioral health counselors are expected to increase by 22 percent between 2014 and 2024. The number of mental health counselors rose more than 30 percent between 2006 and 2016 and is expected to increase again by 28.5 percent by 2022. In addition, the number of social workers and marriage and family therapist roles are expected to continue to increase. The demand for high quality behavioral health and substance abuse executive talent has never been greater. An important trend I am seeing in the substance abuse and behavioral health sectors related to this rapid growth combined with the retirement of Baby Boomers is a drive toward interim executive placements. I believe that search firms will need to be helping organizations move toward a more broad-based blended workforce. A large part of the blended workforce will be interim contract workers, including positions in the C-suite.

Do you see aggressive hiring within the sector? If so, what’s driving it?

The drivers of the extraordinary need for executive talent within the behavioral health and substance sectors are: increased demand for services, consolidations, retirement of Baby Boomers and the rapid pace of private equity mergers and acquisitions. It stands to reason that increased demand and retirement of Baby Boomers increase the need for talent in the C-suite. An equally important factor is the astonishing transition in executive leadership caused by consolidations and private equity acquisitions.

Related: Ratliff & Taylor Appoints President

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

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