Catherine's Health Center, a Grand Rapids Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), recently named Megan Erskine, MPH as their next chief executive officer, as longtime CEO Karen Kaashoek, RN, MBA looks to retire in early 2022 after serving the organization for 24 years.
Erskine, who has more than 12 years of community health experience and most recently served as chief operating officer at Heartland Health Centers in Chicago, was selected by a search committee formed by the organization's board of directors, with assistance from an executive search firm. With Erskine, board leaders say they found a seasoned leader in the FQHC sector and a compassionate servant leader.
"We are delighted to welcome Megan to the leadership role at Catherine's Health Center and feel very confident that our patients and stakeholders will easily connect with her," said Catherine's board chairperson Dr. Jim Byrne, former longtime Priority Health chief medical officer. "Her experience as a proven leader within the FQHC model will be a wonderful asset for the next generation at Catherine's Health Center."
Erskine is a Grand Ledge native and holds a bachelor's degree from Kalamazoo College and a master's of public health degree from the University of Illinois Chicago.
As she looks to assume her new position on April 12, Erskine is committed to expanding access to quality health care to underserved communities.
"I am pleased to be joining Catherine's Health Center and look forward to collaborating with the wonderful team members to continue building on our reputation for excellence and to expand high-quality care to an even larger patient population," said Erskine. "I believe the key to providing patient-centered care begins with a diverse and inclusive work environment that makes health equity a priority."
The organization says Erskine will likely tap into Kaashoek's experience during a transition period, after which the former CEO intends to fully retire.
"For the past 24 years, I've had the honor to serve the community at Catherine's," Kaashoek said. "It is my honor to welcome Megan to carry forward the organization's critical mission and work."
When the initial announcement of Kaashoek's retirement was made back in the fall, Dr. Byrne shared some words of appreciation for the leader and her contributions.
"On behalf of the Board of Directors of Catherine's Health Center, I would like to express our deep appreciation to Karen for her many years of inspirational leadership and her unbending commitment to providing high quality, compassionate health care services to those most in need in our community," Dr. Byrne said. "She leaves behind a strong organization with deep community roots and a talented and committed staff, poised for even greater contributions in the future. She will be greatly missed, and we wish her and husband John a wonderful next phase."
Prompted by conversations and concerns among Creston neighbors in 1993, Catherine's (then called Catherine's Care Center) was founded in 1996 as a joint venture between Mercy Health Saint Mary's (then called Saint Mary's Health Services), St. Alphonsus Parish and the Creston Neighborhood Association. The organization worked from the basement of St. Alphonsus on Leonard Street until 2011, when it relocated around the corner to the former St. Alphonsus School on Lafayette Street. A capital campaign launched in 2009 to raise funds for the renovations to the now LEED Gold-certified facility. It was also 2009 when the organization changed its name to Catherine's Health Center, to better reflect its extended programming offerings.
Click here to learn more about Catherine's Health Center.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor of West Michigan Woman.