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  President’s Desk Column

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A welcome and a fond farewell

September 2001
President’s Desk Column

Paul Bachner, MD

The CAP Board of Governors on Aug. 17 accepted the recommendation of the Search Committee to appoint Nicki M. Norris as the new executive vice president of the College. She succeeded Lee VanBremen, who retired Aug. 30 after serving for more than a decade. The Search Committee, which I chaired as CAP president, was composed of Paul Raslavicus, MD, president-elect; Jared Schwartz, MD, PhD, secretary-treasurer; Harry Zemel, MD, chair of the Compensation Committee and a member of the Board of Governors; and Board members Mary Kass, MD, and Ron Lepoff, MD.

The Search Committee and the Board selected Nicki Norris because she has the unique combination of skills, experience, and background that will support the diverse missions of the College and sustain a tradition of strong executive and staff leadership. A native of Illinois, Nicki earned her BS in finance and her MBA in finance and marketing from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and subsequently passed the CPA examination after attending Northwestern University. She is the first woman EVP of the College and one of a small number of women to serve as the executive leader of a major national medical specialty society.

Nicki, who assumed her duties Sept. 4, comes to the College from the Institute for Transfusion Medicine, where as chief operating officer of the fifth largest blood service in the U.S., with two blood centers in Chicago and Pittsburgh, she led all business and operational activities and a staff of more than 600. Previously, she had served from 1996 to 2000 as the executive vice president and general manager of Everest Healthcare Services Corp., the nation’s largest privately held dialysis provider, with 64 dialysis centers in 12 states. Prior to these health care executive assignments, one in the public and the other in the private sector, Nicki had more than 20 years of progressive responsibility with Baxter Heathcare Services Corp., one of the world’s largest medical supply and service companies. At Baxter, Nicki had experience in finance, employee benefits management, blood therapy and biotechnology research development, sales, marketing, and administration.

SpencerStuart, an international executive search firm headquartered in Chicago, assisted the Search Committee in its task. It reviewed the credentials of more than 162 individuals who were either nominated, self-nominated, or otherwise suggested for this position. The professional backgrounds of these individuals spanned a wide range, though almost all had previous experience in health care or health-care-related organizations. Among them were physicians, association and other nonprofit-sector executives, hospital administrators, laboratory professionals, and individuals with predominantly business and financial backgrounds. Amanda Fox of SpencerStuart reviewed and evaluated 26 candidates. The Search Committee investigated 22 candidates and interviewed eight candidates at least once. The candidate review and selection process was based on a detailed position and candidate specification document that reflected interviews with members of the CAP Board, executive staff, and other CAP leaders.

The final decision reflected the Search Committee’s unanimous decision that Nicki had the depth of experience and breadth of vision to provide leadership to the CAP staff in areas critical to our future success and progress. We fully expect that she will provide the executive leadership and dynamism that will fuel the growth of our scientific, lab improvement, and educational programs and enhance our advocacy for patients and pathologists. Her strong management and business skills, and her record, experience, and interpersonal abilities, will energize our staff, build staff and member accountability for our missions, strengthen communications between staff and members, and help us to diversify our programs. Of paramount importance is our conviction that she will be able to accomplish these goals while supporting and preserving the College’s strong member-driven culture. I know that all of the members and staff of the CAP will join me in welcoming Nicki and extending our support to her in her new and demanding position. Our members will have an opportunity to meet her next month at the ASCP/ CAP Annual Meeting and Exhibits.

My thanks and sincere appreciation go to Lee VanBremen for his executive leadership of the College for the past 12 years and for his many contributions to the growth and success of the CAP. During Lee’s tenure as EVP, the College sustained significant growth in size, budget, staff, influence, and importance. Information technology capacity was modernized, advocacy capabilities were enhanced, SNOMED became the leading international medical vocabulary, and a new wing of the headquarters was completed.

While the CAP’s programs reflect primarily the efforts of our members and our committees, the support and professionalism of staff are integral to these efforts and have been an essential component of CAP success. Lee’s leadership has played a major role in the CAP’s emergence as one of the leading medical specialty societies in the U.S. and the world. For your role in that achievement, Lee, I express the gratitude of the entire College family. I trust that many of you will join me in wishing Lee and his wife, Jane, happiness and success in this new phase of their lives. (The VanBremens can be reached at Highland Ridge No. 22, 221 County Rd., P.O. Box 829, New London, NH 03257.)