Commentary from John Ball, board member of the Dogwood Health Trust and chair of its CEO search committee:
After a national search spanning several months, the Dogwood Health Trust board of directors has selected its initial president and chief executive officer: Antony Chiang. Chiang, currently President of the Empire Health Foundation in Spokane, Washington, will move here with his family to lead Dogwood and work in partnership with community organizations in the region. These partnerships will begin to address the mission of Dogwood: to dramatically improve the health and well-being of all people and communities of Western North Carolina.
Why did we select Antony Chiang, and how did we go about it? First, we wanted someone who shared our vision, and that of Western North Carolina, for the transformative potential of Dogwood. Antony shares our vision. As the founder and initial leader of four start-up organizations focused on improving lives, including Empire, he is an entrepreneur who believes in the power of mission-driven organizations.
We wanted someone who shared our values: commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; compassion with courage; sustainability with integrity; and partnering with purpose. Antony is an Asian-American, and leads a diverse staff and partners with a diverse board. He is bold, and has powerful ideas. As the initial president of Empire, which is a conversion foundation similar to Dogwood, he built an annual budget of $4 million into one of $70 million by partnering with multiple regional, state, and federal institutions. Empire was awarded the federal HUD Secretary’s award for Exemplary Public Philanthropic Partnership.
We wanted someone who could relate to all the people and communities of our region. Northeastern Washington, Empire’s service area, is much like Western North Carolina: it is rural, poverty is well above the national rate, and 14 Native American tribes are among its people. Antony spent substantial “windshield time” in his early years there, getting to know the people and communities throughout the region. He was impressed by their collective strengths, and gained experiences that enabled Empire to build a strategy to address health disparities. He has a proven track record of working with communities to improve the health of their residents.
We wanted someone who could drive results. Under Antony’s leadership, Empire, in partnership with other community-based organizations, has delivered measurable positive impacts on health equity: reducing childhood obesity by 12%, reducing Native American foster care by 50%, and improving the uninsured rate to 4%.
And we wanted someone who could build the staff of Dogwood to meet the needs of our region. He has proven he can be an outstanding leader. Under Antony’s leadership, in 2017, Empire was awarded first place among “Best Places to Work” in Northeastern Washington.
The selection of Antony Chiang was the outcome of an intensive deliberative process. Assisted by Witt/Kieffer, the pre-eminent national search firm focused solely on not-for-profit healthcare and philanthropy, the search committee of the board initially began with a list of over 350 individuals, over 125 of whom had applied for the position. Our search firm screened all these individuals, ultimately interviewing by phone over 60, then holding in-person interviews with 23. We made it a special focus to assess those candidates from the Carolinas. The search committee held in-person interviews with seven candidates, three of whom returned for a second round of interviews, including with the entire board of Dogwood. Each of those three finalists also underwent an in-depth personality assessment in order to assess their “fit” with Dogwood. Detailed reference checks were also obtained on each finalist. It was from this process that Antony Chiang emerged as the unanimous choice of the Dogwood Health Trust board to partner with the board in transforming the health and well-being of the people and communities of Western North Carolina.
We look forward to welcoming Antony and his family, and introducing him to this region. Our first opportunity will be in a series of three community meetings that Dogwood will be hosting across the region October 9 and 10. Please check out our website for details about these sessions at www.dogwoodhealthtrust.org.