Robert Henkel

Ascension is announcing three key changes to its senior leadership effective July 1, 2017.

  • Robert J. Henkel, FACHE, plans to retire on June 30, 2017, from his position as Executive Vice President, Ascension, and President and Chief Executive Officer of Ascension Healthcare.
  • Patricia A. Maryland, Dr.PH, President, Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer of Ascension Healthcare, will become Executive Vice President, Ascension, and President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension Healthcare. In this role, she will have responsibility for the strategic and operational aspects of Ascension’s Healthcare Division, with 141 hospitals and 2,500 sites of care in 24 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, CM, EdD, who currently serves as President of DePaul University in Chicago, will join Ascension as Executive Vice President/Chief Operations Officer, with oversight responsibility for the Ascension Solutions Division subsidiaries of Ascension Information Services and the Ascension Ministry Service Center, as well as Ascension’s national Strategy and Advocacy functions. Last year he announced his intention to step down from his position as President of DePaul University at the end of the 2016-2017 school year after serving as president for 13 years. Fr. Dennis, who serves as Chair of the Ascension Board of Directors, will step down from his position on the Board and a new Board Chair for Ascension will be appointed.

In addition, Ascension is forming a new subsidiary, Consulting Network, LLC. Through this initiative, retired senior leaders from the national health ministry – including Bob Henkel – will have the opportunity to continue to offer their gifts and talents to serve the Catholic health ministry in various capacities.

“An ever-evolving health ministry such as Ascension – based on personal encounters and interpersonal relationships – is defined by the people who serve within it,” said Anthony R. Tersigni, EdD, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension. “Each of these three tremendous leaders adds to the long legacy of Ascension and strengthens our ability to fulfill the Mission of compassionate, personalized service we continue to bring to life on behalf of our historical religious sponsors.

“Bob Henkel has been one of the most influential and important leaders of Ascension and the entire healthcare industry,” he said. “To state that Bob is a virtuous servant leader is woefully inadequate. His career and his life have defined the term. His service has been a blessing and gift not only to Ascension, but to all of Catholic healthcare.

“While it is difficult to think about saying goodbye to Bob, it is an opportunity to reflect upon the many contributions and blessings he has brought to our great ministry. As a colleague and a friend, I will miss him greatly.

“At the same time, we are blessed to have a leader of the caliber and strength of Pat Maryland in Ascension to take on the additional responsibilities of leading our Healthcare Division. I can think of no better way to ensure a seamless transition that will support the continued success of our work in support of our Mission.

“Similarly, we are grateful that Fr. Dennis Holtschneider has agreed to apply his determination, his vision and his skills in a more direct, day-to-day way to our ministry. I’m looking forward to working more closely with him as we provide compassionate, personalized care with special attention to people living in poverty and those most vulnerable.”

Following are more details about these three Ascension leaders and their roles.

Robert J. Henkel, FACHE

Robert J. Henkel earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Union College, Schenectady, New York, and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh, an education that opened his eyes to a world of possibilities. He had the opportunity to study abroad in Israel in 1974-1975, where he experienced the Holy Land at both Christmas and Easter and met and learned about people of different religions. “I began to understand that as people we have more in common that we have in differences,” he said.

Before joining Ascension, Henkel’s career included executive positions at Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York, and Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach, Florida. In 1992 Henkel began his association with the Daughters of Charity when he joined DePaul Health Center in St. Louis, which at the time was part of the Daughters of Charity National Health System. In 1998 he took a leadership position with the national system, which the next year joined with the Sisters of St. Joseph Health System in founding Ascension Health.

Henkel’s steadfast leadership was vital in guiding the creation of the new organization from two strong, faith-filled healthcare ministries. His first role in Ascension was President of the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic States Operating Group, with responsibility for healthcare operations in Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin. Working with colleagues from the former Daughters of Charity and Sisters of St. Joseph systems, he helped shape the vision of how Ascension would contribute to building a strong, vibrant Catholic health ministry and lead the transformation of healthcare.

In 2004 Henkel assumed operational responsibility for all of Ascension Health, serving as President, Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer. As the ministry evolved with the addition of new health systems and the departure of some ministries, Henkel maintained a focus on Mission and serving the needs of individuals and communities, working tirelessly to make Ascension’s operations the best in healthcare with great energy and enthusiasm. Under his leadership and guidance, Ascension made great progress toward achieving its Strategic Direction promise to provide Healthcare That Works, Healthcare That Is Safe, and Healthcare That Leaves No One Behind, for Life. This included achieving tremendous advances in patient safety and high reliability; building the capacity to provide exceptional experiences for those it serves and those who serve through delivering person-centered care; and making exciting progress toward achieving 100 percent access and 100 percent coverage.

In 2012, as the national health ministry created Ascension as the parent organization over Ascension Health and its other subsidiaries, Henkel assumed the role of President and Chief Executive Officer for Ascension Health, now known as the Healthcare Division of Ascension. At the time, Sr. Jean Rhoads, DC, then Chair of the Ascension Health Board of Trustees, said: “Bob’s commitment to Ascension Health’s Mission, Vision and Values is apparent in everything he does. He is a strong leader who will assure the Mission of serving all with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable continues to be central in all Ascension Health activities.”

In addition to his work with Ascension, Henkel has been a vital member of the local and national community, serving as Board Chair for Marian Middle School, which is sponsored by several religious communities including the Daughters of Charity and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, and is the only all-girls middle school serving urban adolescent youth in the St. Louis community; Board member with the United Way of Greater St. Louis; Board member with the Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care; Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives; and member of the Healthcare Executives Network.

But even as he has grown to become a national healthcare leader, his primary focus has been on the ministry of Catholic healthcare. At his 2012 commissioning, Henkel spoke of his deep passion for the ministry: “I am humbled to have this opportunity to be part of this community, a community that sees one nation, one ministry, and will assure access to care for all regardless of the environment”.

Last July this passion found a new avenue of expression as Henkel began a one-year term as Board Chair of the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

“Through the CHA, the [Catholic health] ministry raises a collective, passionate voice for compassionate care,” Henkel said at last year’s CHA Assembly. “But as we move into the future – a future that we know will be full of change – how ought we continue to model in our ministries the Mercy of Christ, and the Culture of Encounter? In an increasingly secular world, it’s a daunting challenge.”

It’s a challenge that Henkel called all people serving in the ministry to meet, as he said: “I believe we should redouble our efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion, and eliminate health disparities – which we continue to see in vulnerable minority populations, and in populations with significant percentages of persons in poverty. To me, the continuing reality of healthcare disparities is an obvious gap in our ability to convey God’s mercy and to live the culture of encounter – a gap we should aggressively work to remedy, using our creativity and passion with a distinctive urgency.”

“Striving to close gaps in access, in safety, in compassion, and in personalized care has been a hallmark of Henkel’s work throughout his career in Ascension,” Dr. Tersigni said. “Because of him, we are a stronger, more compassionate and more faithful community of caregivers.”

“Bob told me that he and his wife, Roseanne, are looking forward to spending more time together and with their family as he gives up his grueling work and travel schedule,” Dr. Tersigni said. “He does plan to continue to serve the Catholic health ministry and U.S. healthcare through various boards and committees, in addition to his work through the new Consulting Network.”

“As I reflect upon my career I realize that I have been blessed beyond measure,” Bob Henkel said. “It has been both gratifying and humbling to work alongside so many compassionate, faith-filled individuals dedicated to meeting the deepest human needs of our sisters and brothers, both within Ascension and in my previous roles. Although I will miss my colleagues, I’m looking forward to having more time for family and friends. And I will I continue to be blessed by the ongoing opportunity to help members of the Catholic health ministry navigate our evolving world through the Consulting Network and other opportunities.”

Patricia A. Maryland, Dr.PH

Patricia A. Maryland, Dr.PH, will assume the position of Executive Vice President, Ascension, and President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension Healthcare, effective July 1, 2017. In this role she will have responsibility for the strategic and operational aspects of Ascension’s Healthcare Division, with 141 hospitals and 2,500 sites of care in 24 states and Washington, D.C.

Dr. Maryland has served as President, Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer of Ascension Healthcare since 2013. She previously served as the Michigan Ministry Market Leader for Ascension and the President and Chief Executive Officer of St. John Providence Health System, Warren, Michigan, where she provided strategic and operational leadership for St. John Providence while promoting alignment among health ministries within Ascension Michigan and the System Office on issues related to Mission and Vision.

Prior to that role, Dr. Maryland served as President, St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, and also as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for St. Vincent Health. In this dual role she oversaw operations for St. Vincent Hospitals and Health Services, the flagship tertiary hospital of the St. Vincent system.

Dr. Maryland has extensive experience in strategic planning, patient care operations, service line management, finance, clinical program development and evaluation. Before joining St. Vincent Health, she served as President of Sinai-Grace Hospital and Senior Vice President of Detroit Medical Center. She also served as Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer at North Oakland Medical Centers, Pontiac, Michigan, and worked for 15 years at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Dr. Maryland received a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Alabama State University, Montgomery, and a master’s degree in biostatistics from the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a Doctorate of Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh, concentrating in health services administration and planning.

While at St. Vincent, Dr. Maryland served as Chair of the Citizens’ Health Care Working Group, a group mandated by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, National Association of Health Services Executives and the Medical Group Management Association.

Dr. Maryland was named one of the Top 25 Women in Healthcare in 2016 and 2015 by the publication Modern Healthcare, Woman of the Year in 2014 by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, and one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare that same year. In 2006 she was given the top healthcare executive award by the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, and in 2003 she received the Leadership in Healthcare Award from the Detroit Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the 2003 Woman of the Year Award from the Beta Omicron Zeta Chapter for outstanding accomplishments in improving and providing quality healthcare. Earlier, the Cleveland Clinic honored her with a Women of Professional Excellence award.

Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, CM, EdD

On July 1, 2017, Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, CM, EdD, will assume a newly created position of Executive Vice President/Chief Operations Officer, Ascension, overseeing the Ascension Solutions Division subsidiaries of Ascension Information Services and the Ascension Ministry Service Center, as well as Ascension’s national Strategy and Advocacy functions.

Fr. Dennis currently serves as President of DePaul University in Chicago, the nation’s largest Catholic university and the largest private university in the Midwest. He also is Chair of the Board of Directors of Ascension; he will leave the Board on June 30, 2017. He joined the Board of Ascension Health in 2009 and moved to the Board of Ascension in 2012, where he chaired the Audit Committee before becoming Board Chair. Last year he announced his intention to leave his position at DePaul at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

Fr. Dennis’s leadership experience at DePaul and throughout his career, coupled with his deep commitment to Catholic healthcare, will serve in him well in his new Ascension role. He became DePaul’s 11th president on July 1, 2004, and oversees 23,539 students, and 924 full-time faculty members on four Chicago and suburban campuses. He has led the DePaul community through two successful strategic plans, increasing its national reputation, putting the university on firm financial footing, and seeing through an extensive expansion and improvement of its facilities.

Deeply committed to the poor, Fr. Dennis strengthened the university’s outreach to first-generation students and raised more than $460 million in philanthropic support for the university, the largest portion of which was earmarked for student scholarships.

A Detroit native, he studied at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and received his doctorate in administration, planning and social policy in 1997 after writing a dissertation on the early history of financial aid in the United States. He earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Niagara University, New York, in 1985, studied for the priesthood at Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton, Pennsylvania, and was ordained in 1989.

Fr. Dennis was an administrator with St. John’s University in Queens, New York, from 1996-1999, first as Assistant Dean of Notre Dame College and later as Associate Dean of the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Concurrently, he served as an assistant professor of higher education in St. John’s Graduate School of Education. He served as Executive Vice President at his alma mater, Niagara University, from 2000-2004, where he directed the university’s strategic planning efforts and daily operations.

Fr. Dennis is the author of one book and numerous articles on U.S. higher education and Catholic higher education, as well as a frequent consultant and speaker on these topics. He is a professor of education at DePaul and a faculty member in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management Development Program, as well as a faculty member at Boston College’s Institute for Administrators in Catholic Higher Education.

Fr. Dennis has been honored widely for his work on a variety of issues, including being listed as one of Diversity MBA Magazine’s Top 100 under 50 Diverse Executive Leaders (2012). He received the ACE Council of Fellows Mentor Award in 2015, recognizing his guidance in preparing the next generation of academic leaders in higher education. He also holds honorary doctoral degrees from Adamson University, Manila; College of St. Elizabeth, New Jersey; Marywood University, Pennsylvania; Niagara University, New York; Soka University, Tokyo; St. John’s University, New York; and St. Thomas Aquinas College, New York; and received the Vincentian Charism Award from All Hallows College in Dublin.

About Ascension

Ascension ( is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. In FY2016, Ascension provided more than $1.8 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Ascension includes approximately 150,000 associates and 36,000 aligned providers. Ascension’s Healthcare Division operates 2,500 sites of care – including 141 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia, while its Solutions Division provides a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, investment management, biomedical engineering, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension’s own group purchasing organization.