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Partners HealthCare Picks First Woman as President and CEO

Analysis  |  By Steven Porter  
   June 26, 2019

Anne Klibanski, MD, who had been the nonprofit's chief academic officer since 2012 before she became interim president and CEO earlier this year, says the organization has room for improvement.

For the first time since its founding a quarter-century ago, Boston-based Partners HealthCare has named a woman to the top executive role, dropping the "interim" from the title Anne Klibanski, MD, picked up earlier this year.

Klibanski stepped into the role on a temporary basis in February after the sudden retirement announcement of her predecessor, David Torchiana, MD. Although board members had initially indicated that they would conduct a national search for Torchiana's replacement, they said Tuesday that all signs have kept pointing them to Klibanski.

"Over the past several months, it has become increasingly clear to each member of the board that Anne is the ideal leader for Partners as we move forward together as a truly integrated system," said Partners board chair Scott Sperling in a statement, complimenting Klibanksi for demonstrating her ability to lead such a large and complex system.

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"Her long and extraordinary experience and leadership in research and teaching is so important to a system that is the global leader in life sciences research and the educator of the next generation of doctors and health system leaders," Sperling said. "Her commitment to serving the unmet need of our local communities is crucial. It became obvious to us that any search was going to lead us right back to Anne."

Leaders from both Partners and its two biggest hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women's Hospital, have been debating in recent months how the health system should be integrated and who should take the lead, either the corporate office or the hospitals, as The Boston Globe's Priyanka Dayal McCluskey reported.

Torchiana's retirement came amid disagreement over new outpatient clinics and the Partners mergers and acquisitions strategy, as the Globe reported.

Partners had been trying to acquire Care New England (CNE), based in Providence, Rhode Island. Even after Torchiana's retirement, CNE expressed confidence in the deal. Partners backed away from the transaction earlier this month, however, as Rhode Island Gov. Gina M. Raimondo nudged CNE into another round of negotiations with organizations within the state.

Klibanski said at the time that Partners would withdraw its application to acquire CNE but "look forward to reengaging at the appropriate time."

Before taking on the mantle of interim president and CEO, Klibanski had been chief academic officer for Partners since 2012, overseeing research, teaching, and other responsibilities. She also served as the chief of neuroendocrine at MGH and is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

In a statement, Klibanski said Partners is entering a new stage of collaborative improvement.

"In recent months members from hospital boards across the system have started to work together in a way we have not seen before at Partners," Klibanski said. "I am honored to have the opportunity to realize the full potential we have to transform health care and make it better for patients and families everywhere."

"Partners HealthCare is a great organization," she said, "but I believe we can be even better."

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

Photo credit: Anne Klibanski, MD (Provided: Partners HealthCare)


Klibanski had been the nonprofit's chief academic officer since 2012, overseeing research and other responsibilities.

The leadership transition comes as Partners revises its strategic vision after dropping bid to buy Care New England.

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