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GOBHI Welcomes New CEO

Following a comprehensive national search in January generating applications from across the nation, GOBHI’s Board of Directors has selected Ann Ford to lead the organization effective April 1, 2024, as Karen Wheeler transitions into retirement. The Board chose Ann for her exceptional leadership, strong rapport with community partners, and deep understanding of behavioral health policy and programs in Oregon. Ann has prior experience with GOBHI, where she served as Corporate Compliance Officer from 2021 to 2023. Additionally, she has served as Director of Compliance at HealthShare, Oregon’s largest Coordinated Care Organization.


From John Shafer, Board Chair, GOBHI:

“The GOBHI Board selected the best person to lead GOBHI going forward. It turns out Ann Ford not only was the candidate who rose to the top, but she has previously been a member of the GOBHI family. As the Board Chair, it is my absolute pleasure to welcome Ann home.”

 

Ann Ford

 

With Master’s of Public Health and Master’s of Business Administration degrees from Walden University, along with dual bachelor's degrees, Ann is a recognized expert in her field. She also has extensive experience working with state and legislative committees. Ann began her career as an alcohol and drug counselor providing services integrated in the child welfare department in Klamath Falls. After a number of years, she moved into quality assurance and leadership. Ann grew up in rural Oregon split between Klamath Falls and Grants Pass, and her family still owns the same land they have lived on in Grants Pass for ten generations. Ann lives in Gresham with her two children, Levin and Grant, a giant dog named Gary, and an awkward dog named Sam.


From Ann Ford:

“I am honored to have the opportunity to join such a strong team at GOBHI. I look forward to working with the staff, board members, and providers. Behavioral health in Oregon is undergoing significant challenges and I look forward to helping Eastern Oregon take advantage of the opportunities available. I am excited to work with our partners at Moda in the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization to ensure that members living in Eastern Oregon have access to high-quality healthcare.”

While the organization welcomes its new CEO, it bids farewell to its esteemed CEO, Karen Wheeler, who announces her retirement after a distinguished career. Karen leaves behind a legacy marked by commitment and remarkable achievements in advancing the vision and mission of the organization.


During her tenure, Karen spearheaded efforts to fortify GOBHI's financial sustainability and core priorities, emphasizing exceptional service delivery, fostering an efficient business model, and nurturing a trusted brand. Karen's leadership was instrumental, particularly amidst the challenges posed by the global pandemic. Under her guidance, strategic investments were made in housing, workforce development, and network development. Notably, GOBHI emerged as Oregon's largest provider of therapeutic foster homes, indicative of Karen's dedication to meeting the diverse needs of the community. In service of transparency and brand strengthening, She implemented annual reports to highlight achievements and maintain the organization's accountability.


As she prepares to embark on this new chapter, Karen leaves behind a profound legacy of advocacy and dedication to the well-being of rural and frontier Oregon. For the future of GOBHI, Karen advises, “Promoting and empowering individuals and communities to achieve better health is a long game—don’t get discouraged. My hope is that partnerships continue to strengthen throughout the healthcare, justice, and other social systems in service to better outcomes for everyone living in rural and frontier communities.”  


Karen Wheeler's 39-year career will conclude in May, leaving behind a lasting impact that will continue to resonate within the community for years to come.


From John Shafer, Board Chair, GOBHI:

“Karen Wheeler's leadership has been instrumental in getting GOBHI into the great position we find ourselves in today. While I was saddened to learn of her wishes to retire, I not only understand, but I am also excited for her to enjoy the time with her family. It was hard for me to accept because I am not only losing a fantastic executive, but I will also be losing regular contact with my friend. Karen's love of family extends beyond the walls of her home and is easy to see within the walls of GOBHI. Karen will truly be missed, but fortunately, her legacy will remain.”


For media inquiries, please contact: Grant Souders at gsouders@gobhi.org


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