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HL20: Jeffrey A. Parker—Making Margin While Serving the Poor

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, January 17, 2014

Jeffrey Parker has worked for famous food corporations and as an executive at his alma mater, but has found his most satisfying work in his position as CEO at Calhoun County Dental Center. Now his dental centers provide care to the subsets of people that need him the most.

This profile was published in the December, 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Ten years ago, Jeff Parker, after a successful career as a high-level executive at ConAgra Foods, General Foods Corp., and Sara Lee, found himself retired to a South Florida barrier island where, as he puts it, he spent his time "getting older but still wanting to contribute to society."

He decided to put some of his money to good use by endowing a scholarship for 75 students and shortly thereafter became an executive in residence at his alma mater, Jacksonville State University in Alabama. He occupied that chair, but he still wasn't scratching the itch of entrepreneurship and he was disillusioned after helping at least a couple of people at the university's entrepreneurial center develop successful businesses. He never heard from them again.

"Later, I was asked by a dentist to look at and offer some advice for an underperforming, nonprofit dental center for Medicaid children in Anniston, Ala."

Before he knew it, the founder of what was then known as the Calhoun County Dental Center, a retired cardiologist named Warren Sarrell, asked him to lead the nonprofit. He accepted and became CEO.

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