Health Care

Allina Health CEO Dr. Penny Wheeler to retire at end of 2021

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Allina Health announced Thursday its CEO is stepping down at the end of 2021.

Dr. Penny Wheeler plans to retire after serving in Minneapolis-based Allina’s top job since 2014. Allina’s board of directors has named the system’s chief operating officer, Lisa Shannon, as Wheeler’s successor.

“Allina Health has enabled me to fulfill my purpose to improve the lives of others as both a physician and as a leader,” Wheeler said in a statement. “Along the way, I have collected countless stories from those who I have been so privileged to meet. It is those stories that I will miss the most, but the timing is right for me to step away.”

Wheeler has been with the health system for decades—first as a physician, then president of Abbott Northwestern medical staff and chief medical officer. She then became Allina’s first female and first physician CEO. The health system noted in a news release that Wheeler has championed care model partnerships like the Mother Baby Center with Children’s Minnesota and has led high-profile initiatives like a jointly owned insurance venture with Aetna.

Wheeler regularly received Modern Healthcare awards, including a 2021 Luminary in the Top 25 Women Leaders, and appearing on 50 Most Influential Clinical Executives in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, and 100 Most Influential in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Shannon and Wheeler will collaborate in the coming months until the full transition of leadership duties at the end of 2021.

Shannon, who was named president in 2020, began her career as a dietitian working in a burn and trauma team in Dayton, Ohio. She has held leadership roles throughout the Midwest, including at OhioHealth in Columbus, Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Catholic Health Initiatives’ KentuckyOne Health in Louisville, Kentucky. She earned a degree in dietetics and nutrition from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and a Master of Business Administration from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio.

“Throughout my entire career, I have remained passionate about quality care and elevating the voice and expertise of those who are doing the work to deliver on our caring mission,” Shannon said in a statement. “This is more important now than ever as we navigate through some of the most dynamic and challenging times that health care has faced in decades.”

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