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Bryan Health Names CEO to Succeed Kim Russel, Who's Retiring Next Year

By Steven Porter  
   July 03, 2019

The board named the nonprofit's next top executive a full six months ahead of the planned transition.

Kim Russel, who has been president and CEO of Bryan Health for more than a decade, will retire early next year and hand her title over to an internal successor, the organization announced Tuesday.

Russ Gronewold, who is currently chief financial officer for the nonprofit health system, based in Lincoln, Nebraska, will become Bryan Health's president and CEO when Russel retires in January. 

At the same time, John Woodrich, who is currently president and chief operating officer for Bryan Medical Center, will become president and CEO of the medical center and executive vice president of Bryan Health.

"This leadership transition will provide a high level of continuity for Bryan Health," said Bryan Health board of trustees chair Bill Lester in a statement. "The board is committed to continuing Bryan Health's trajectory of positive growth and strong service to the community and to the state."

In naming a new CEO a full six months ahead of Russel's retirement, Bryan Health's board has clearly made succession planning a priority. That's a basic governance function that every board should undertake, but it's one that is often pushed to the back burner for one reason or another.

Kim Russel, Russ Gronewold, and John Woodrich (Provided/Bryan Health)

Russel, who is 60, says she is merely executing a vision that has been in the making for quite some time.

"Anyone that knows me well knows that I am a long-term planner, and early in my career I had always targeted 60 for a retirement goal," Russel told The Lincoln Journal Star in a statement Tuesday. "At the time of my retirement in January, I will be pushing 61." 

Gronewold and Woodrich have each been in their current positions nearly a decade, since December 2009, according to Bryan Health's announcement.

Lester expressed appreciation for Russel's accomplishments, adding that Bryan Health's patient services have grown significantly under her direction.

"Perhaps Kim's most important legacy," Lester added, "will be the highly talented leadership team that she has developed over the years."

Related: Every Hospital Board Needs a CEO Succession Plan. Half Are Failing.

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


The health system's current CFO will take over as CEO early next year.

The current COO of Bryan Medical Center will also receive a promotion.

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