Dogwood Health Trust Follows Through On Board Diversity Promise

Jan 2, 2020

Dogwood Health Trust has announced that two Buncombe County board members have stepped down in accordance with a deal with the North Carolina Attorney General. 


Dogwood Health Trust, the foundation created by Mission Health’s $1.5 billion sale to for-profit  HCA, is following through on Attorney General Josh Stein’s stipulations of the deal. Dogwood agreed to the terms in a commitment letter.


Directors Wyatt Stevens and Bob Roberts, who both live  in Buncombe County announced they did not seek re-election at the expiration of their terms of office ending in 2019. 


“We are grateful to Wyatt and Bob for their dedication and commitment to Dogwood Health Trust,” said Janice Brumit, chair of the Board of Directors, in a press release. “Their leadership served us well in helping to shape our purpose, as well as the tone and tenor of how we approach grantmaking.” 


Brumit says they have not yet chosen who will fill the two open seats. 


You might remember that when Stein oversaw the hospital system’s sale, he amended the asset purchase agreement to make sure that HCA and Dogwood would support the region. For HCA, that meant agreeing to keep the five local hospitals open for at least 10 years and keep the same services running. For Dogwood, many of the requirements centered around regional diversity for their board. 


Initially before the deal was finalized, the board was mostly people who lived in Buncombe County - home to Western North Carolina's biggest city Asheville and Mission's largest hospital. But in his amendments to the sale, Stein outlined that a mixture of people from across the region needed to make up Dogwood’s board of directors in order to properly represent the area. 


“I was very concerned.  I wanted to make sure the board represented the full diversity of the region - geographic, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic - all the diversity of Western North Carolina so that it didn’t just become an Asheville foundation,” says Stein. 

Now Dogwood is following through on this promise that by January 1, 2020 no more than five members from one county will be on the board. Now there are five people from Buncombe on the board. Dogwood also agreed that its board will fairly reflect the diversity of population of western North Carolina by January 1, 2020.

Here’s the current board: John R. Ball, MD, JD (Buncombe County), Sam Lupas (Jackson County), George Renfro (Buncombe County), Martha Tyner (Yancey County), Jackie Godlock(Rutherford County), Vivian Bolanos (Henderson County), Jacquelyn “Jackie” Shropshire Simms (Buncombe County) and Dawna Goode-Ledbetter(McDowell County), Sarah Thompson (Jackson County) and Dr. Donna Tipton-Rogers (Cherokee County). As well as, Vice Chair Jack Cecil and Chair Janice Brumit, both (Buncombe County.)

Looking at the map above, here's the full regional diversity requirements from the asset purchase agreement: "By January 1, 2020, the Dogwood Board will include at least one member from each of four subregions of western North Carolina in the Eastern and Central areas of western North Carolina and two from the Western region (consisting of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon and Swain Counties), for a total of six (6) directors. The two sub-regions in the Eastern area comprise Avery, Mitchell and Yancey Counties (referred to as sub-region E-1) and Burke, McDowell, Polk, and Rutherford Counties (E-2). The two sub-regions in the Central area comprise Henderson and Transylvania Counties (C-3) and Buncombe, Haywood, and Madison Counties (C-4). In addition, by January 1, 2020, the Dogwood Board will include a second member from the E-2 sub-region."

Additionally Dogwood promised that in 2019 the board would appoint six non-board members chosen from across the region to serve on the grants-making committee, covenant compliance committee, and nominating committee. Dogwood has announced that they have chosen eight people to be on these committees: Rear Admiral Richard Houck, Annette Staley, Bishop José McLoughlin, Harris Prevost, Suzanne Landis, MD, Brian Mitchell, MD, Dwight Mullen, PhD, and April Ross, RN.

In addition one of the other stipulations of the deal was Dogwood agreed to hold an annual open meeting with the public each year to receive community input. These meetings should be timed so that Dogwood can take into account any insights it receives from the meeting to plans its next grant cycle. 


Update: Michell Hicks, CPA (Qualla Boundary) resigned from the Dogwood Board in 2019.