Mercy Sr. Mary Haddad named new CEO of Catholic Health Association

Sr. Mary Haddad, of the Sisters of Mercy of the South Central Community (Courtesy of Catholic Health Association)

Mercy Sr. Mary Haddad, vice president of sponsorship and mission services for the Catholic Health Association of the United States, will take over as president and CEO of the organization July 1.

Haddad, of the Sisters of Mercy of the South Central Community, will be the 10th CEO of the organization, which represents the largest nonprofit health care provider in the nation. Nearly one in every six patients in the United States is cared for in a Catholic hospital.

Catholic Health Association has been part of one of the biggest debates in recent decades: how to provide and pay for health care in the United States and how to balance societal demands with Catholic teaching.

"CHA has a long, rich history of advocating for high quality, affordable and accessible care for all," Haddad said in a statement with the announcement. "As we look to the challenges ahead, we must be bold and not afraid to look at things anew, with a fresh and clear vision for how best to serve our patients and the communities that have counted on Catholic health care for more than 150 years."

Haddad succeeds Daughter of Charity Sr. Carol Keehan, who announced in the fall that she will retire in June after 14 years in the position.

Haddad joined the organization in 2009 and oversees sponsorship, mission, ethics, leadership formation and learning integration. She consults with Catholic health ministry sponsors, CEOs, board members and church officials to advance the mission of Catholic health care and collaborates on strategic planning and advocacy for the association.

"I'm honored that the CHA board has entrusted me with this important leadership position," Haddad said in the statement. "I'm eager to get started on this important work and blessed to be surrounded by a talented and dedicated staff at CHA and a membership deeply committed to our shared mission and vision."

Early in her career, Haddad worked as a teacher, school principal, social worker and a volunteer in Belize and Trinidad. Prior to joining CHA, she was administrative fellow at St. Anthony's Health System in Alton, Illinois, and served on the regional leadership team of the Sisters of Mercy, St. Louis.

Keehan said the organization, which represents more than 2,200 hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, will be in good hands.

"I am thrilled that the board has chosen Sr. Mary as our new president and CEO," Keehan said in a statement. "She will do an outstanding job. Sr. Mary is very gifted and committed to Catholic health care, and we are blessed that she is willing to take on this role."

The Mercy Sisters, who have a 175-year history of providing health care in the United States, praised the decision.

"Mary is a demonstrated and trusted leader in Catholic health care and her skills, wisdom and commitment are a gift to this crucial ministry," Sr. Patricia McDermott, president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, said in a statement. "The mission of CHA and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas are one, and we are proud that Sister Mary will be offering her gifts and presence to this very significant leadership role."

The appointment came after a six-month search.

"Sr. Mary's deep experience working with CHA and its members for more than a decade makes her the ideal person to lead our association," Board of Trustees chair Mike Slubowski said in a statement. "In addition to her knowledge and expertise, she also brings a strong commitment and passion in advocating for the most vulnerable among us. Sr. Mary is an authentic and energetic leader who will work tirelessly to advance the Catholic health ministry."

Incoming board chair Kevin Sexton said Haddad's perspective will be crucial.

"Catholic health care plays a vital role in the health of our nation and we are embracing the many opportunities where we can work together as a ministry to advance the common good," Sexton said in a statement. "Sr. Mary's diverse background in health care, education, and social work allows her to see the big picture and provide the robust leadership that will allow Catholic health care to continue to thrive."

Haddad earned a master's degree in business administration in health care from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a master's degree in social work from St. Louis University. She has a bachelor's degree in education from Southern Illinois University. She is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit universities; a member of the Christus Health Mission Committee; and a member of the board of Mercy Housing. 

[Dan Stockman is national correspondent for Global Sisters Report. His email address is dstockman@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.]

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