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Leadership team

  • The Executive Leadership Team sets strategies, monitors performance and oversees operational responsibilities throughout Allina Health.

    Kenneth Paulus photo

    Kenneth Paulus

    Chief executive officer

    Kenneth H. Paulus is the chief executive officer of Allina Health. Prior to his appointment as CEO, he served as the president and chief operating officer of Allina Health, responsible for the operations of Allina Health hospitals, specialty operations and clinic groups. In his time at Allina Health he has led numerous growth initiatives; including joint ventures, strategic partnerships and acquisitions that have positioned Allina Health as the market share leader in the region.

    Before joining Allina Health in 2005, Mr. Paulus was president and chief executive officer of Massachusetts-based HealthOne Care System, one of the nation's largest integrated physician organizations and a teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Before his time at HealthOne, he served as the chief operating officer of Boston-based Partners Community HealthCare/Partners HealthCare System. Partners HealthCare System is a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School that includes two of the nation's leading hospitals - Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

    Mr. Paulus serves on the Board of Overseers for the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business, is a trustee with Hamline University, and serves on the executive committee and board of directors for the Minnesota Hospital Association.

    Mr. Paulus is a Wisconsin native, was raised in Chicago, and is a 1983 graduate of the University of Minnesota Masters Program in Healthcare Administration. He earned his bachelors degree in biological sciences with a concentration in chemistry from Augustana College in Illinois.

    Penny Ann Wheeler photo

    Penny Ann Wheeler

    President and chief clinical officer

    Penny Wheeler, MD, president and chief clinical officer (CCO) of Allina Health, leads the organization's clinical quality and improvement agenda by collaborating with medical staffs, the Allina Health Board of Directors' Physician Governance Council and medical directors. She is responsible for ensuring best-of-practice approaches, ongoing innovation and excellence in care, and supporting the development and retention of effective clinicians.

    A board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Wheeler has served patients at Women's Health Consultants in Minneapolis and taught as an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Minnesota. She has served as president of Abbott Northwestern Hospital's medical staff, as chairperson and vice-chairperson of the hospital's obstetrics and gynecology department and on numerous committees.

    Prior to assuming the position of CCO in June 2006, Dr. Wheeler served on the Allina Health Board of Directors, where she led the Quality Committee. Her educational background includes an undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Minnesota, and a doctorate of medicine degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School.

    Duncan P. Gallagher photo

    Duncan P. Gallagher

    Executive vice president of administration and chief financial officer

    Duncan P. Gallagher, chief financial officer of Allina Health, is responsible for ensuring that Allina Health resources are deployed properly to enhance the quality, safety and effectiveness of the care Allina Health provides to patients and communities.

    Prior to joining the Allina Health Executive Leadership Team in August 2009, Mr. Gallagher was the executive vice president and chief operating and financial officer of Iowa Health System based in Des Moines, Iowa. Mr. Gallagher spent 10 years in that role overseeing all of the finance functions as well as administrative functions including legal services, human resources, information technology, strategy, supply chain management and payer contracting.Prior to his time at Iowa Health System, Mr. Gallagher was a partner with KPMG Peat Marwick based in Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas. He spent 10 years with KPMG leading client engagements with large hospital systems. Prior to his time with KPMG he was a director of finance at Health East Care System in the late '80s and was a senior auditor with Peat Marwick Mitchell and Company in the early to mid '80s.

    Mr. Gallagher completed his master's degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota in 1989. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1983 from the University of South Dakota.

    Ben Bache-Wiig photo

    Ben Bache-Wiig

    System vice president and president, Abbott Northwestern Hospital

    Ben Bache-Wiig, MD, is president of Abbott Northwestern Hospital, the largest Allina Health hospital. Prior to this role, Dr. Bache-Wiig served as vice president of medical affairs for Abbott Northwestern from 2009 to 2011.

    Dr. Bache-Wiig is board-certified in internal medicine. As an accomplished medical executive, he supports values-based leadership and advocates for high-quality patient care. He completed his undergraduate studies at Michigan State University. He attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin and completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

    Dr. Bache-Wiig has 20 years of experience as part of the North Clinic, PA, a multi-specialty clinic with more than 50 physicians, serving both as a medical director and physician president.He has been recognized several times by Minneapolis/St. Paul magazine as one of the area's top physicians.

    Christine (Chris) Bent photo

    Christine (Chris) Bent

    Senior vice president, Clinical Service Lines

    Christine Bent is the operational leader of Allina Health’s Clinical Service Lines (CSLs), including Virginia Piper Cancer Institute, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, Allina Health Mental Health, Mother Baby, the John Nasseff Neuroscience Institute, the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, the Phillips Eye Institute, and Cardiovascular (including the Minneapolis Heart Institute, United Heart & Vascular Clinic, and Metropolitan Heart and Vascular Institute). In this capacity, she is responsible for the strategic, quality, operational, and financial performance of the CSLs in conjunction with the overarching physician leader and dyad partner Dr. Penny Wheeler. The aim of the CSLs is to provide consistently exceptional and coordinated care for those Allina Health serves in order to help patients achieve their desired health outcomes. This involves close collaboration with the hospitals, clinics, and home and community division within Allina Health as well as other community partners to connect care to best meet individual patient’s needs.

    Prior to this role, Ms. Bent was the Chief Operating Officer of the Minneapolis Heart Institute® (MHI®) where, in conjunction with the physician president, she provided professional management to the 128-bed Heart Hospital within Abbott Northwestern Hospital and MHI®’s extensive outreach program. Her background is in physician practice management in both independent practices and integrated health care delivery systems. She graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota with a B.A. in Psychology and obtained her Masters in Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota.

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    Sara Criger

    System vice president and president, Mercy Hospital

    Sara Criger is president of Mercy Hospital. Prior to joining Allina Health in 2012 she held several executive level positions in the Twin Cities market. During 15 years of service with Fairview Health Services, she served as vice president of ambulatory services, University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, and president of Fairview Ridges Hospital and Clinics. She also held the position of vice president, HealthEast Care System and CEO, St. Joseph's Hospital, a 258 bed tertiary hospital. Ms. Criger also led HealthEast system responsibilities for cardiovascular, neurosciences, and mental health service lines, as well as the HealthEast Medical Laboratories and HealthEast Hospice Care.

    Ms. Criger holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Western Connecticut State University and a master's of science degree in health services administration from the University of St. Francis.

    Ms. Criger is active in the community, serving as the 2012 Chair of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce Board, and a member of the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board, Minnesota Hospital Association Policy and Advocacy Committee, Twin Cities American Heart and Stroke Association Board, and Life Source Organ and Tissue Donation Board.

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    Daniel McGinty

    Executive vice president, hospital and specialty services

    Daniel McGinty oversees the operations of the 12 Allina Health hospitals and also has responsibility for specialty services, including Allina Health Emergency Medical Services, Allina Health Pharmacy and Allina Health Laboratory.

    Mr. McGinty joined Allina Health from Duluth-based Essentia Health. He has worked in various capacities at Essentia over the past 11 years, initially overseeing seven acute care hospitals, four long-term care facilities and 11 physician clinics. More recently, he served as the chief administrative officer of Essentia’s east region, responsible for seven hospitals, 18 clinics and a 475-physician multi-specialty clinic.

    Prior to his time at Essentia, McGinty was the president and CEO of Holy Family Memorial Health Network in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

    McGinty has a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Gustavus Adolphus College and a master’s in health care administration from the University of Minnesota.

    Thomas O'Conner photo

    Thomas O'Connor

    System vice president and president, United Hospital

    Mr. O'Connor began his career with Allina Health in 1997, managing five owned and eight managed rural hospitals as vice president of operations for Allina Regional Health Services until 2001. As corporate vice president of operations for Allina Health, he led the administrative redesign and system-wide financial improvement necessitated by the Allina Health split with Medica Health Plan in 2002. He then served as president of St. Francis Regional Medical Center until 2007, when he became president of Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.

    Mr. O'Connor began his career in health care management in Georgia and Florida, including serving as chief operating officer of Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee. A Minnesota native, Mr. O'Connor has master's degrees in health services administration and in business administration from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor's degree in economics/finance from St. Olaf College in Northfield.

    Elizabeth Truesdell Smith photo

    Elizabeth Truesdell Smith

    System vice president, general counsel

    Elizabeth Truesdell Smith is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Allina Health. Ms. Truesdell Smith has served as in-house counsel for Allina Health since December 2000. Prior to her appointment as General Counsel, she held the position of Vice President of the Allina Health Law Department medical-legal team. During her tenure at Allina Health, Ms. Truesdell Smith has served as a lead counsel representing providers, hospitals and business leaders in health law areas including patient safety, enterprise risk management, professional liability litigation, medical staff, patient care and corporate regulatory matters.

    Before joining Allina Health, Ms. Truesdell Smith practiced as a trial lawyer for eight years with a focus on hospital and health law, Ms. Truesdell Smith received her JD from the University of Minnesota Law School, and earned a Master’s of Public Health with a health law and bioethics concentration from Boston University School of Public Health. She has worked in biomedical laboratory research at Harvard Medical School and in biomedical ethics at Boston City Hospital, Boston University School of Public Health and the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota. 

    Robert Wieland photo

    Robert Wieland

    Executive vice president, clinics and Home Care Services

    Robert Wieland, MD, has been employed by Allina Health since 1994. His role includes leadership of 57 clinic sites, which employ more than 850 physicians and advanced care practitioners. He also provides oversight of Home Care Services, the Allina Integrated Medical Network, as well as Strategy and Business Development.

    Prior to this role, Dr. Wieland served as the vice president of medical affairs at Abbott Northwestern Hospital from 2006 to 2009. Dr. Wieland serves on the quality and finance committees of the Allina Health Board of Directors, as well as several community boards.

    Earlier in his career, Dr. Wieland was a district medical director for Allina Health clinics. He also co-founded the Hospitalist Service at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and practiced as a hospitalist there for 12 years before turning his focus to health care leadership.

    Dr. Wieland earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota, his medical degree at the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed internal medicine training at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

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