Sep 21 Special Meeting- July 28, 2023
Indian River County Hospital District Conference Room/ Zoom
July 28, 2023
TRUSTEES: Marybeth Cunningham Barb Bodnar
Michael Kint Paul Westcott
Kerry Bartlett Karen Deigl
ZOOM: William Cooney, M.D.
STAFF: Jennifer Peshke, Esq. Ann Marie Suriano
Kate Voss Jennifer Frederick
ATTENDEES: Laurie Huebner
Convene Meeting – Marybeth Cunningham, Chairwoman
Mrs. Cunningham convened the special meeting of the IRCHD Board of Trustees at 1:30 PM. She thanked the Trustees for accommodating their schedules to hold this meeting on short notice. Ms. Cunningham stated that Ms. Huebner will begin by going to go through her findings and her information from the process and then she will open the meeting up for each Trustee to share their thoughts and views. Mr. Westcott thanked Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Huebner for providing the board with three qualified candidates and stated that he felt the process had worked well.
Ms. Huebner addressed the board and asked that the Trustees consider a few guiding principals while discussing the candidates. She stated that their discussions should remain factual, and focus on the candidates’ qualifications and abilities, and why they are qualified. She further stated that there were multiple data points provided which include the interviews with each candidate, the evaluations from the interviews, the references provided on each candidate, the writing assignment reflecting how they would spend their first 180 days in the position, and the Trustees personal experience. She then provided the Trustees with a summary of the evaluations they completed on the three candidates. She explained that 6 Trustees conducted interviews and stated that many of the Trustees withheld their comments for this meeting. She further stated that Frank Isele scored the highest among the three candidates and Wenona Palombi scored second, placing Mary Weiss third. In terms of ranking, Mr. Isele was ranked number 1 by four Trustees, and ranked number 2 by one Trustee, and one Trustee ranked all three candidates as not qualified or zero. Ms. Palombi was ranked number one by two Trustees and Ms. Weiss remained third throughout the ranking. Ms. Bodnar addressed the group and stated that she did review the evaluation forms, but since she didn’t interview with the candidates in person, she did not complete the evaluation form. She did however receive all of the candidate’s information and reviewed the documents for consideration. Ms. Huebner continued her discussion concerning the interview scoring process and stated that Mr. Isele scored close to three on most items within the evaluation tool. However, Ms. Palombi also scored well and was a close second. She suggested that with the results from the evaluation placing Mr. Isele and Ms. Palombi fairly close in ranking, that the discussion remain around those two candidates.
Ms. Cunningham invited Dr. Cooney to begin Trustee discussions and he provided his thoughts and comments. He began by discussing Ms. Palombi and stated that he thought she was dynamic and possessed senior leadership qualities. He felt she had strong networking skills and was data driven in her approach, and has knowledge and expertise in the medical field. She also has strong letters of recommendation, was familiar with the Vero Beach area, and was humble and modest where appropriate. He ranked she and Mr. Isele equally with 39 points each but subjectively he believes Ms. Palombi is a better suited candidate than Mr. Isele. With respect to Mr. Isele, he liked his approach and thoughts on community health, which he feels this board should focus more on. He also appreciated Mr. Isele’s experience in the non-profit sector working with American Indians. One concern he has with Mr. Isele is that he felt he had an answer for all questions posed to him and that he may lack authenticity. He still feels he is a strong candidate and has a lot of experience, but his preference would be Ms. Palombi.
Next Mr. Kint provided his comments and stated that Ms. Palombi was his first interview and he was very impressed by her. She was personable and had the skill set required for this position. He had a few concerns over her transitioning through jobs over the last years but felt the answers explaining the transitions were appropriate. Mr. Isele was his last interview and he felt that from the beginning of their interview there was an even stronger sense of ability and accomplishment. Mr. Isele discussed his approach with community health and is data driven with an emphasis on metrics. He also has strong experience in hospital operations and management, along with organizational change. He also discussed the salary for Mr. Isele and indicated that he explained that he comfortable at the level being offered at this point in his career, as he is now driven by purpose and creating positive impact within a community. Therefore, Mr. Kint felt that Mr. Isele was the stronger candidate, and did find him to be authentic.
Mr. Westcott stated that both were strong candidates but possessed different skill sets. He felt that both have a good understanding of what the District’s goals are and how there are some overlapping funding items which could be addressed. He appreciated Mr. Isele work with the American Indians and felt that this experience provided him with valuable insight into dealing with multiple levels of constituency, which the District has. He also felt Ms. Palombi was a qualified candidate with her experience in data collection and analysis, and ranked she and Mr. Isele both ones in the evaluation tool. He appreciated the other Trustees feedback, and ultimately feels like Mr. Isele is the stronger candidate and is better suited for the bigger picture concerning the Districts future.
Ms. Bodnar provided her comments and stated that she did not participate in the interview process but reviewed the materials provided to the Trustees. She stated that both candidates are qualified but feels that Ms. Palombi is the stronger candidate as she has more experience and understanding of the local area. Based on Mr. Isele experience, she is not sure that he would be the best fit for the District.
Ms. Deigl stated that she feels both candidates are strong candidates but are different in their experiences. She believes the discussion the Trustee should consider is what will each candidate look like serving in the role of Executive Director and where do the Trustee want the organization to go moving forward. She felt Mr. Isele has strong leadership and administrative skills, and a strong presence. Ms. Palombi may need further development in her leadership skills but is very data driven which could be beneficial also, should the District choose to move in a more data driven direction. Ms. Deigl spoke to the change the District has undergone over the last several years and the growth the District has experienced. She discussed her scoring evaluation results and stated that Mr. Isele scored higher due to his experience and expertise. Ms. Palombi however was a close second and she would like to have further Trustee discussion before making her decision.
Ms. Bartlett addressed the board and stated that she did not score any of the candidates. She agreed that they were well qualified for a position but did not find them to be qualified for the leader she is looking for, for the District. She discussed her experience with Mr. Isele during the interview process and stated that he spoke for an extended period of time, before she was able to ask him any questions and referenced a Trustees name incorrectly, as well as the Districts title incorrectly. She also felt Mr. Isele was too focused on Cleveland Clinic during their discussion. She then discussed her experience with Ms. Palombi who she felt was unprepared and did not watch any of the District meeting recordings, and could not answer questions with regards to the same. She also stated that Ms. Palombi was unaware of the Districts strategic vision. She explained that the candidate she is looking for as Executive Director is not a professional who is versed in data collection, as she feels there is staff to manage that. She is looking to hire a community builder, and someone that will go out into the community and look for gaps to fulfil the bigger picture of sustainable change. She feels there are other options out there and that the Trustees should not rush this process, and would like to cast a wider net, to find additional candidates.
Ms. Cunningham spoke to the process and stated that out of all the candidates, the list was narrowed down to six finalists that she interviewed. Out of the six, it was narrowed down to the final three which the other Trustees also had the opportunity to interview. She spoke to her experience with interviewing Mr. Isele and stated that he did not speak about Cleveland Clinic during their interview and stated that she found him to be courteous and well put together. She agreed with Ms. Deigl’s comments regarding the difference between Mr. Isele and Ms. Palombi. She believes Ms. Palombi could have a strong relationship with the funded agencies and has some creative ideas for future partnerships. She feels Mr. Isele would lead the District in becoming a leader in healthcare locally and help develop the District presence within the community. Her only concern is that he may not feel there is enough to accomplish or that he would become bored. Ms. Deigl pointed out that there are many new initiatives the District is embarking on and felt he could be a strong leader in developing plans to achieve those goals and objectives. There was also discussion surrounding the fact that the District historically has not had a strong presence within the legislative community and felt that Mr. Isele would be able to handle himself at that type of level. There was further Trustee discussion surrounding Mr. Isele and his ability to manage situations, especially the relationship with Cleveland Clinic.
In response to Ms. Bartlett’s comments requesting that a deeper search be conducted for new candidates, Mr. Westcott inquired to Ms. Huebner if there was a benefit to waiting another three months in order to find additional candidates, and if there were any additional resources that weren’t used initially that could be used. Ms. Huebner stated that she does not believe she could or would have done anything differently in this process. She cold sourced many of the applicants herself and there were not many applicants who actually applied for the position. She stated that it is a challenging market and Vero Beach is located an in unique part of Florida. She asked if the Trustees has additional referrals that they would like to be considered. There was further Trustee discussion and the majority of the Trustees felt that the finalists chosen were qualified and fit to serve in the role, and were happy with how the process was conducted. Ms. Huebner stated that she conducted thorough reference checks on all the candidates and spoke to those references over the phone. She stated that once the Trustees are ready to move forward and offer the position, a background check will be conducted. There was further Trustee discussion about the future of the District and how the candidates would help facilitate the goals of the strategic plan. There was also discussion surrounding Ms. Bartletts comments about continuing the search process and the majority of the Trustees were not in favor of extending the search, and felt that the candidates presented were qualified. Therefore, Ms. Deigl made a motion to approve the hiring of Frank Isele as the new Executive Director, which was seconded by Mr. Westcott. The motion carried 5-2, with Ms. Bartlett and Ms. Bodnar in opposition. Ms. Bodnar inquired whether there could be a back up plan in place in case Mr. Isele does not accept the offer or ultimately is not the right fit for the position. There was Trustee discussion and it was agreed that they would like Ms. Palombi to remain engaged in the process and offer her the position should it not work out with Mr. Isele. Ms. Bodnar made a motion to adopt that process, which was seconded by Ms. Deigl. The motion carried 6-1, with Ms. Bartlett in opposition.
Next there was Trustee discussion concerning the salary and benefits package that would be offered to Mr. Isele. It was decided that a base salary of $135,000 would be offered along with 20 days of paid time off, which is inclusive of sick time. There was also approval for Ms. Huebner to allow for negotiations in the salary range. Additionally, a medical, dental, and retirement contribution is also included with the benefit package. There was also discussion surrounding an additional relocation expense of $5,000 to be offered to cover moving expenses. The Trustees agreed to the expense but requested that receipts be submitted as back up for moving expenses incurred. Mr. Kint made a motion to approve the salary and benefits package as outlined during discussions, which was seconded by Mr. Westcott. The motion carried 6-1 with Ms. Bartlett in opposition.
Public Comment & Adjourn-
There was no public comment and the meeting was adjourned at 3:15 PM