The New Jersey Hospital Association Board of Trustees today announced Cathleen Bennett, Esq., as the next president and CEO of the Princeton-based trade organization whose membership includes nearly 400 hospital, health system and post-acute care members.
Bennett, who currently serves as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, will assume her new duties Nov. 9, becoming the sixth president and CEO in the Association's 99-year history. She will succeed Betsy Ryan, who has led the organization since 2008.
"We are fortunate to have found the right person for this key role, right down Route 1 in the heart of New Jersey," said Steven G. Littleson, FACHE, president of the hospital services division and chief operating officer of Hackensack Meridian Health, who chairs the NJHA Board and led the Search Committee. "Cathy Bennett knows healthcare, she knows the Garden State and she understands what a pivotal time this is for our industry. Most importantly, she is committed to a healthier New Jersey, and that's a goal we all share."
Bennett, who holds a law degree along with a master's in government administration, brings to NJHA a blend of leadership, entrepreneurship and strategic planning expertise. As commissioner of the N.J. Department of Health, she oversees a department with a $1.6 billion budget and staff of 1,200 charged with safeguarding the public health and strategizing for the future of healthcare delivery.
Bennett was appointed to the post by Gov. Chris Christie in 2015. Prior to being named commissioner, she served as the Department's chief information officer and led its policy and strategic planning. Both roles have placed her at the center of many of the healthcare issues of importance to NJHA and its members – healthcare quality improvement, population health, the impact of technology and meeting the healthcare needs of diverse communities and generations.
"Cathy will hit the ground running with an in-depth knowledge of the unique challenges facing our institutions as we strive to improve the health of New Jerseyans and the communities they live in. We know this is a critical time for our industry and the Association, and Cathy does not shy away from the challenge," said Amy Mansue, NJHA's incoming Board Chair and president of the southern region for RWJBarnabas Health. "Betsy Ryan has earned a national reputation for her exceptional leadership in what has been healthcare's most dynamic, volatile period ever. On behalf of the NJHA membership we thank her for her dedication and passion for the Association and the people entrusted to our care."
Ryan announced her plans to step down last year. She has continued to lead the Association during the national search process, and will remain through Oct. 31 to ensure a smooth transition.
Bennett brings the perspective of a policy expert and entrepreneur along with experience as a public health officer. From 1995 to 2010 she served as senior vice president and partner of Policy Studies Inc., a start-up that provided consulting and technology services to health and human services programs in several states.
"As commissioner, I've worked with NJHA and its members as valued stakeholders in improving the quality of healthcare for all New Jersey residents," said Bennett. "I'm very excited to work with them now as colleagues and co-workers. NJHA has been a leader nationally in recognizing the future of healthcare and expanding its membership to include not just hospitals and health systems, but also nursing homes, home health, hospice and other post-acute care providers. For me, this is an exciting new stop in a career journey focused on making sure people have every opportunity for good health."
Bennett earned her JD degree from The Dickinson School of Law, her master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's in English from Villanova University. She has one daughter in college and lives in Haddonfield with her husband.