Greater Rochester Health Foundation’s board of directors announced that John Urban, who has served as president and CEO of the organization since its creation in 2006, will step down effective July 31.
“The timing is right,” Urban said. “The board of directors has adopted a new strategy that will increase its focus on all dimensions of children’s development. This creates an ideal moment to shift leadership and enable a highly experienced professional to implement this strategy early in the process.”
The board of directors plans to conduct a nationwide search for a replacement.
“The impact the Health Foundation has been able to achieve over the past decade reflects the commitment John has brought to the organization, our grantees and community health overall,” said Dennis Richardson, board chairman. “John’s vision, business acumen and commitment to evidence-based programming have been a powerful combination, enabling us to help create real change across the Greater Rochester region.”
During Urban’s tenure, the Health Foundation invested in projects and programs that had a measurable impact on various critical health issues, including improved management of blood pressure across the region; improvement of the acute treatment of strokes and more effective aftercare for those at risk for repeat incidents; grassroots change across neighborhoods through the development of customized plans of action aimed to improve the health status of residents; demonstration that schools and related venues can be effective focal points for reducing the body mass index of children; support of the introduction and expansion of the Rochester Regional Health Information Organization; stabilization of Westside Health Services and enabling its merger with Jordan Health Center, ensuring access to care for the neighboring communities; and the expansion of telemedicine.
“Our successes reflect the collective efforts of our grantees, community partners, local leaders, board and staff, for all of whom I am deeply grateful,” Urban said. “Rochester has always been at the forefront of change, and revolutionary thinking and focused resources will continue to affect the overwhelming challenges that impact the health of our communities.”
Urban started his career in psychiatric and mental health, including time as deputy commissioner for administration and finance with the New York State Office of Mental Health. He moved to Rochester from Albany in 1984 to become president and CEO of Preferred Care, where he served for 21 years. It was during Urban’s time at Preferred Care that Bill Clinton recognized Rochester in a 1992 presidential campaign speech for its approach to keeping health care costs low and quality of care high. With 2005 revenue of $775 million, the health plan was an attractive merger target.
Greater Rochester Health Foundation formed when MVP Health Plan acquired Preferred Care. Urban was named Health Foundation’s first CEO in 2006.