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Our Leadership

President & CEO

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. And, in February, Modern Healthcare named her one of its Top Women Leaders for 2023.

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.

Senior Leadership

In this role, Black serves as a member of the senior leadership team and directly supports the President and Chief Executive Officer to ensure productivity and impact. Black serves a key role in facilitating effective organizational leadership and ensures collaboration, communication, and integration for system wide initiatives. She also serves as an advisor on policy development, strategic planning, advocacy, and stakeholder relationships. 

Black joined The MetroHealth System in 2021 and previously served as Special Assistant to the President and CEO. Prior to joining MetroHealth, she held the position of Chief of Staff for the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts, where she was responsible for directing staff and operations and assisted the agency’s director with strategic planning and large-scale initiatives such as bail reform and centralized booking. Her experience also included administrative and management roles with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.   

Black received a juris doctor degree from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Law, and a bachelor’s degree from CWRU.

In this role, Dr. Blinkhorn will oversee the medical staff, advanced practice providers, department chairs, research programs, medical education, designated service lines, clinical institutes and more for MetroHealth. 

Prior to this role, Dr. Blinkhorn served as Chair of the Department of Medicine since May 2019. He was responsible for the oversight of the department’s 11 divisions, research programs and graduate and post-graduate training programs.

During his first tenure at MetroHealth, from 1982 through 2004, Dr. Blinkhorn served in various leadership roles: Director of Infection Control, Director of Tuberculosis Control, Director of Infectious Diseases, and eventually as Interim Chair of the Department of Medicine.  Prior to his return to MetroHealth, Dr. Blinkhorn was the Richard T. Beebe Professor and Chairman in the Department of Internal Medicine at Albany Medical College and Hospital.

Dr. Blinkhorn received his medical degree from the Bowman Gray (Wake Forest University) School of Medicine and his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Davidson College. 

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.

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.

In this role, Fiser is responsible for MetroHealth’s Information Technology leadership and strategic direction.

Fiser, who joined MetroHealth in July 2018, has more than 35 years of experience in the Healthcare IT field. He previously served in numerous IT leadership roles at Akron General Health System before being appointed CIO, a position he held for over 10 years.

Fiser received an MBA from Baker College Center for Graduate Studies and a bachelor’s degree from Malone University. He became a Fellow with the Advisory Board Company Healthcare Executive Leadership Academy in 2008. He is a 2023 Ohio ORBIE Award finalist (Large Corporation category); the award recognizes Chief Information Officers across all industries.

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. 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. 

In this role Himes provides finance leadership and oversight for The MetroHealth System. That includes responsibility for all Accounting and Financial Reporting, Revenue Cycle Operations, Financial Planning & Analytics, Supply Chain, Treasury and Reimbursement. 

Himes returned to MetroHealth in March 2023 to fulfill this role. He originally joined the System in 2011, serving in the roles of Vice President of Finance and Chief Accounting Officer. Himes came to MetroHealth following a career of leadership positions with University Hospitals.  Himes began his career in Healthcare Finance at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Himes received an MBA from Cleveland State University.

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, Jones oversees oversee facilities planning and management for The MetroHealth System.

Jones joined The MetroHealth System in October 2014. As Senior Vice President, Campus Transformation, he previously led the transformation of MetroHealth’s three million-square-foot main campus, overseeing construction of The Glick Center, a new 11-floor hospital building – and surrounding community. 

Jones came to MetroHealth from the Dallas County Hospital District's Parkland Health and Hospital System. As Senior Vice President of Facilities Development, he managed the planning, design, development and programming of Parkland's $1.3 billion, 865-bed hospital and medical campus project. Prior to joining Parkland, Jones was an associate with Howell, Rusk, Dodson Architects in Atlanta, where he oversaw projects including the major renovation and expansion of Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital and Northside Hospital Women’s Center.

Jones received a master’s degree in Architecture from Clemson University, and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.

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 Operating Officer/President of the Ambulatory Division 

In this role, Dr. Lewis oversees the ambulatory network, including all clinics and provider practices, ambulatory operations, urgent care and the customer care center. 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. Most recently, he served as Chief Medical Officer of Ambulatory Services. 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.

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. 

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.

In this role, Southerington oversees the full spectrum of human resources functions for MetroHealth’s 8,000 employees.

Southerington joined MetroHealth in 2018 as Vice President - Human Resources. Prior to that, she worked as the Vice President of Human Resources at the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland (now known as Step Forward) and Director of Human Resources for the City of Cleveland. 

Southerington received a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University.

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.