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Our Leadership

Presidents

As the first woman, first Black person and first nurse to serve as President and CEO of The MetroHealth System, Dr. Airica Steed is fighting passionately to reverse racial disparities and make sure every person – in Cuyahoga County and beyond -- has an equal chance at a long and healthy life.

That is just one part of her bold vision for the future of the $1.7 billion, 8,000-employee safety net health system.

Dr. Steed became MetroHealth’s leader on December 5, 2022, after serving as Executive Vice President/System Chief Operating Officer of Sinai Chicago Health System and President of Mount Sinai and Sinai Children’s Hospital.

As a proud fourth-generation nurse, her initial vision for MetroHealth is focused on four key principles: excellent patient care, innovation, accelerating growth and health equity. She plans to turn that vision to reality by using her favorite leadership tools: partnering with others and listening. 

A Listening and Engagement Tour, the central piece of her 100-day plan, has her in ongoing meetings with employees throughout the health system, leaders throughout the state and community members throughout Cuyahoga County.

At Sinai Chicago, Dr. Steed led a multifaceted clinical, operational, financial and cultural transformation that accumulated over $200 million in improvements over three years. She did that while radically improving quality indicators and reducing hospital-acquired infections and mortality rates by 40%. 

It was that work, along with the turnaround of Sinai Chicago that led Crain’s Chicago Business to name her one of its Notable Black Leaders and Executives of 2022 and convinced Modern Healthcare to list her as one of its Top 25 Innovators and a Minority Leader to Watch in 2020. Becker’s Hospital Review recognized her as well – as one of 75 Black Healthcare Leaders to Know in 2022.

Before joining Sinai Chicago, she was Senior Vice President, Operations at Presence Health; Chief Experience & Administrative Officer at University of Illinois Health System – one of the first chief patient experience officers in the country; Vice President, Clinical Operations and Professional Services/Operations at Advocate Health System, the largest integrated health system in Illinois; and a Senior Consultant and Engagement Leader at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. 

She holds a Doctorate of Education in Ethical Leadership from Olivet Nazarene University, a Master of Business Administration from Governors State University and a Bachelor of Science, Nursing from Rush University. She is also pursuing a Master's in International Relations with a focus on Healthcare from Harvard University Extension School.

Kate Brown, MPA, is President of The MetroHealth Foundation & Chief Development Officer of The MetroHealth System.

In this role, Brown is responsible for the creation and implementation of the System’s comprehensive strategic fundraising program.

Brown joined The MetroHealth System in 2001. She previously served as Vice President of Development and Director of Development. Prior to joining MetroHealth, Brown was a senior development officer at Cleveland Clinic; director of development for the Northeast Ohio Chapter for The Multiple Sclerosis Society; and membership program manager with the Greater Cleveland Growth Association.

Brown received a master’s degree from Cleveland State University and a bachelor’s degree from Miami University of Ohio.

Leadership

Jennifer Bailit, MD, MPH, is Chief Medical Officer, Inpatient Services.

In this role, Dr. Bailit partners with Michael Stern, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Inpatient Services, as dyad leaders for aligning organization-wide operational and clinical efforts for the Inpatient Enterprise of MetroHealth. She also is a tenured professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Dr. Bailit joined The MetroHealth System in 2002 as a maternal-fetal medicine physician. Her clinical area of interest is substance use in pregnancy.  She previously held the roles of Physician Executive for the MetroHealth Provider Enterprise; and Medical Administrator for the Women and Children’s service line at MetroHealth. She is the founder of the Mother and Child Dependency Program at MetroHealth.

Dr. Bailit received her medical degree from Tufts School of Medicine and completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University, Prentice Women’s Hospital. She also received a master’s degree in public health and completed a fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, both from the University of North Carolina. Dr. Bailit is a past Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and completed the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Julia Bruner, MD, MBA, MS, is the Senior Vice President for Behavioral Health and Correctional Medicine.

In this role, Dr. Bruner oversees Inpatient and Outpatient Behavior Health, Correctional Medicine, and Recovery Resources. Dr. Bruner is an Assistant Professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Dr. Bruner joined The MetroHealth System in 2004. She has served in progressive leadership roles at MetroHealth including Medical Director and Physician Executive for Ambulatory Operations. Dr. Bruner is a co-chairperson for the Stepping Up Committee for Cuyahoga County and the Integrated Health Care Coalition - Behavioral Health Workgroup. She also is a member of the Ohio Attorney General’s Task Force on Mental Health and Jails. Dr. Bruner has been a member of the Medically Assisted Treatment Sub-Committee for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and the State of Ohio Attorney General’s Taskforce on Pandemic Response.

Dr. Bruner received her medical degree from Rush University Medical College in Chicago and completed a Family Medicine residency at MetroHealth in 2001. She also received an MBA from Baldwin Wallace University, and her undergraduate and Master of Science degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

Nabil Chehade, MD, MSBS, is Executive Vice President, Chief Population & Digital Health Officer.

In this role, Dr. Chehade leads MetroHealth’s efforts to transform its clinical and operational approach to a population health care model, and to further evolve the System’s digital health care model. He also oversees the senior care continuum within the System as well as the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ – a multidisciplinary institute of 40 dedicated employees working on improving and changing the trajectory that the social determinants of health have on health outcomes and quality of life – and community health initiatives.

Dr. Chehade joined The MetroHealth System in August 2016. He has held numerous leadership roles throughout his career including Chief Clinical Transformation Officer and Senior Vice President of Population Health at MetroHealth; Chief Executive Officer and Market President at HealthSpan Physicians; and Executive Medical Director and Chief Medical Informatics Officer and Chief of Urology at the Ohio Permanente Medical Group.  

Dr. Chehade received his medical degree, completed a residency, and received a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Studies from the University of Toledo’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.

Cheryl Forino Wahl is Senior Vice President, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer and Chief Employee Engagement Officer.

In this role, Forino Wahl is charged with ensuring that MetroHealth’s policies and practices reflect a culture committed to ethical conduct for the protection of patients, staff and visitors. She also oversees the Office of Employee Engagement.

Forino Wahl joined The MetroHealth System in July 2017. Previously, she served as Chief Compliance Officer for ENVISIONRX OPTIONS, a subsidiary of Rite Aid Corporation; and Chief Compliance Officer for University Hospitals of Cleveland.

Forino Wahl received a juris doctor degree and a master’s degree in medical ethics from the University of Pittsburgh, and a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University.

Joe Frolik is Senior Vice President, Communications, Government and Community Relations.

In this role, Frolik leads MetroHealth’s communications efforts and strategy.

Frolik joined The MetroHealth System in October 2019. Previously, he served as executive editor of ideastream, leading the public media organization’s news and public affairs efforts; led communications and public policy at the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office; and for more than three decades worked at The Plain Dealer as a reporter, columnist, national correspondent and chief editorial writer. In 2017, Frolik was enshrined into the Cleveland Press Club’s Journalism Hall of Fame.

Frolik received a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. 

In this role, Dr. Ishmael leads day-to-day operations of MetroHealth’s Hospital Division, which includes Main Campus and The Glick Center, Community Hospitals, Behavioral Health Hospital, Rehabilitation and Correctional Medicine. His accountability includes oversight of medical and clinical operations, nursing services, emergency services, perioperative services, hospital and support services, public safety, facility services and space management.

Dr. Ishmael previously served as Chief Clinical Operations Officer at Sinai Chicago, a safety-net health system comprised of four hospitals, a nationally recognized research institute, and a large multispecialty medical group with over 40 specialties. Previous leadership roles have included Division Chief; Medical Director and VP Medical Affairs for health plans; ER and Hospitalist Director. He has extensive experience in primary care and emergency medicine.

Dr. Ishmael received his medical degree from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and an MBA from Purdue University.  He completed his residency in family medicine at Methodist Hospitals in Gary, Indiana, and a fellowship at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

Julie Jacono, MBA, is Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer.

In this role, she oversees the business strategy and development, innovation, performance improvement and market intelligence of MetroHealth. 

Jacono joined The MetroHealth System in September 2012.  She has held numerous leadership roles including Vice President, Strategic Operations; Executive Director of Ambulatory Operations; and Director of Strategy & Business Development.  

Jacono received a bachelor’s degree from the School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and an MBA from CWRU’s Weatherhead School of Management.  She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.

In this role, Dr. Golob leads quality management across the System, ensuring that safe and reliable processes are embedded into the delivery of health care. He oversees the implementation of quality improvement efforts and maintain compliance with The Joint Commission, HIPAA and other accreditation standards.

Dr. Golob joined The MetroHealth System in 2004 as a trauma surgeon and surgical intensivist. He previously served as Medical Director of Patient Safety; Medical Director of the Surgical and Trauma Intensive Care Units; and Program Director of the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship Training Program. Most recently, he served as Chief Quality Officer, Inpatient Services. In that role, he partnered with the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Nursing Officer for the Inpatient Division to oversee and guide MetroHealth’s patient safety and inpatient quality improvement programs.

Dr. Golob received his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a master’s degree in healthcare systems engineering from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina. 

Matthew Kaufmann, MSN, RN, is Chief Quality Officer, Ambulatory Services.

In this role, Kaufmann partners with the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Ambulatory Services to oversee MetroHealth’s Quality and Improvement programs. These divisions include the Ambulatory Network, Primary Care, Specialty Care, Neuro-Musculoskeletal, Cancer Care, Pharmacy, Pathology, Radiology and Contact Center services.

Kaufmann joined The MetroHealth System in 2002. He has served in multiple leadership roles including Executive Director of Quality, Community Care and Clinical Transformation; Director of the Quality Institute; Manager of Clinical Informatics – Ambulatory; and System Quality Specialist.

Kaufmann received a Master of Science degree in Nursing from Chamberlain College of Nursing, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from The University of Akron.

Melissa Kline, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, is Senior Vice President-System Chief Nurse Executive. 

In this role, Dr. Kline oversees nursing practice and policies, nursing education, nursing research, nursing recruitment, workplace safety, emergency preparedness, accreditation services, and patient experience and volunteer services. She also serves as the Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the MetroHealth campus of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.  

Dr. Kline joined The MetroHealth System in 1998. She has served in a series of progressive leadership roles including Nurse Manager, Director of Nurse Staffing Operations, Director of Nursing Operations and Professional Development, Associate Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Nursing Officer.

Dr. Kline earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the Chamberlain College of Nursing, a master’s degree from Walden University, and a bachelor’s degree from The University of Akron.

William R. Lewis, MD, is Chief Medical Officer, Ambulatory Services. 

In this role, Dr. Lewis partners with Nicholas R. Sukalac, Chief Operating Officer, Ambulatory Services, to develop MetroHealth’s ambulatory strategy and service line development including oversight of Primary Care, Specialty Care, Cancer Care, Neuro-Musculoskeletal, Radiology, Pathology, Pharmacy, and Contact Center services across the System. Dr. Lewis also is a Professor of Medicine at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Dr. Lewis joined The MetroHealth System in 1993 as a clinical cardiologist. He previously served as the Division Director in Cardiology and the Service Line Medical Director of the Specialty Care Service Line.  Dr. Lewis has held several national roles with the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm Society. 

Dr. Lewis received his medical degree from The Ohio State University and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School General Management Program.

Julia Mason, MBA, RN, CENP, is Chief Nursing Officer for Inpatient Services.

In this role, Mason oversees nursing, respiratory, clinical operations, and fiscal and resource management across the System’s inpatient settings.

Mason joined The MetroHealth System in January 2022. She brings more than 30 years of experience. After serving 20 years as a critical care nurse, she held roles as supervisor, manager, and Chief Nursing Officer at several health systems.  

Mason received an MBA from Baldwin Wallace University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin. She is completing her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from The Ohio State University in 2022. 

Laura McBride, JD, is Senior Vice President & Co-General Counsel.

In this role, McBride and Co-General Counsel Sonja Rajki are responsible for all legal affairs of MetroHealth. Through this framework, the co-General Counsels provide high-level strategic advice while maintaining their strong connection and understanding of the System’s operational challenges and opportunities.  

McBride joined The MetroHealth System in 2014. In her previous work at two large Ohio-based law firms, she focused on assisting clients in navigating federal and state regulatory issues in a wide range of industries and forums through public and administrative law, health care and energy matters, and litigation of all types. 

McBride received a juris doctor degree from The George Washington University, a master’s degree from Dartmouth College, and a bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster. 

Brian Mercer, MD, is Interim Executive Vice President – Provider Enterprise & Academic Affairs. 

 In this role, Dr. Mercer oversees the Department Chairs, Advanced Practice Providers, Research & Sponsored Programs, Medical Education, Provider Recruitment & Contracting, Medical Staff Services, and Provider Enterprise, which includes 1,000 medical providers.

Dr. Mercer joined The MetroHealth System in December 1999. He served as Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2012-2022), and holds an academic appointment of Professor with tenure in the Department of Reproductive Biology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (CWRU).

Dr. Mercer received his medical degree from and completed his residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Ottawa (Canada). He completed a fellowship Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Memphis. Dr. Mercer is a past-president of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Alan K. Nevel, MBA, is Senior Vice President & Chief Equity Officer.

In this role, he is responsible for defining the overarching vision, identity and strategy at MetroHealth to eliminate systemic disparities and inequities that impact patients, employees and the community.

 Nevel joined The MetroHealth System in 2018. He has significant experience in corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives and previously served as Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity and Human Resources Officer at MetroHealth; Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion for Thermo Fisher Scientific; and in Diversity and Inclusion, HR Strategy Delivery, Talent Development, and Organizational Change Management roles at Columbus-based specialty fashion retailers L Brands and Victoria’s Secret. 

Nevel began his professional career in research and development and manufacturing at The Sherwin-Williams Company before moving on to management consulting with Andersen Consulting/Accenture. He serves as Chair of Cleveland State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Visiting Committee.

Nevel received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Cleveland State University and an MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.

Sonja Rajki, JD, is Senior Vice President & Co-General Counsel.

In this role, Rajki and Co-General Counsel Laura McBride are responsible for all legal affairs of MetroHealth. Through this framework, the co-General Counsels provide high-level strategic advice while maintaining their strong connection and understanding of the System’s operational challenges and opportunities.  

Raiki joined The MetroHealth System in 2011. Previously, she was a partner with a Cleveland-based law firm where her practice focused on counseling businesses, nonprofits and health care organizations in all aspects of their operations, including formation, mergers and reorganizations, joint ventures and real estate matters.  Rajki began her legal career at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. 

Rajki received a juris doctor degree from Case Western Reserve University and a bachelor’s degree from Lawrence University.

Craig Richmond, CPA, is Executive Vice President, Chief Financial & System Services Officer.

In this role, Richmond leads all facets of MetroHealth’s financial and system services, including Corporate Finance, Information Services, Supply Chain, Revenue Cycle, Intelligent Automation, Treasury, Financial and Capital Planning, Internal Audit, Investor Relations, and Enterprise Data Analytics.  In addition, Richmond is responsible for co-leading the newly created Transformation and Optimization Division.

Richmond joined The MetroHealth System in 2010. In addition to Chief Financial Officer, he previously served as Vice President of Revenue Cycle.  Prior to joining MetroHealth, Richmond held leadership positions at Huron Consulting Group, Ernst & Young and Arthur Andersen.  During that time, he led many healthcare organizations through clinical, operational, and financial performance improvement strategies. 

Richmond is Chair of The Center for Health Affairs’ Board of Directors and is a member and past Audit Committee Chair of the Board of Directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Ohio. He served on the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s National Advisory Council from 2015 to 2017.

Richmond received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Delaware. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.  Richmond is a Certified Public Accountant (Ohio and Maryland) and frequent speaker on a variety of leadership and operational excellence topics.

Regina Sawyer, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, is Chief Nursing Officer for Ambulatory Operations.

In this role, Dr. Sawyer is responsible for clinical operations, fiscal and resource management, and nursing practice across the Ambulatory Network, encompassing 25 sites throughout Northeast Ohio. 

Dr. Sawyer joined The MetroHealth System in 2021. She has held numerous leadership positions within maternal child health, care management roles throughout her career including Associate Chief Nursing Officer at MetroHealth and Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Kaweah Delta Health Care District in Visalia, California.

Dr. Sawyer earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Capella University, and both master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Ursuline College of Nursing. She holds a certificate in population health management from the California Hospital Association.

Nicholas R. Sukalac, MBA, is Chief Operating Officer, Ambulatory Services.

In this role, Sukalac partners with William Lewis, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Ambulatory Services, to develop MetroHealth’s ambulatory strategy and service line development including oversight of Primary Care, Specialty Care, Cancer Care, Neuro-Musculoskeletal, Radiology, Pathology, Pharmacy, and Contact Center services across the System.  

Sukalac joined The MetroHealth System in 2007. He has served in progressive leadership roles across ambulatory and inpatient operations including Vice President – Hospital Operations; Service Line Administrator – Specialty Care and Heart & Vascular; and Administrative Director of Emergency Services.  Prior to joining MetroHealth, he worked in multispecialty health center operations roles in Northeast Ohio.

Sukalac received an MBA from Baldwin Wallace University and a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University.