Kim Russel is only 60, a relatively young age to retire.
But the Bryan Health president and CEO said that's the age she had long ago set as her goal for retirement.
So the health system announced Tuesday that Russel will be stepping down early next year.
“Anyone that knows me well knows that I am a long-term planner, and early in my career I had always targeted 60 for a retirement goal," Russel said in a statement Tuesday to the Journal Star. "At the time of my retirement in January, I will be pushing 61."
Russel, who has led the city's largest hospital system since March 2008, will step down effective Jan. 3.
Bryan Health has already chosen a successor, announcing that Russ Gronewold, who has been Bryan Health's chief financial officer since 2009, will be elevated to president and CEO when Russel leaves.
Russel said leading Bryan "has been the honor of a lifetime, and indeed the pinnacle of my career."
During Russel's tenure, she navigated the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and also oversaw a number of expansion projects at both Bryan West and East campuses, including a remodel of the emergency department and the construction of an outpatient surgery center.
Russel, who came to Bryan after leading Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, Iowa, also was involved in the health system's largest-ever fundraising campaign, which reached its $40 million goal 18 months early.
Other notable events while she was in charge include the acquisition of Merrick Medical Center, implementation of an electronic medical record system and helping to build a statewide telemedicine network.
Bill Lester, chair of the Bryan Health Board of Trustees, said in a news release the board is "extremely appreciative" of Russel's contributions.
"With her leadership, Bryan Health’s services to its patients have grown significantly. Perhaps Kim’s most important legacy will be the highly talented leadership team that she has developed over the years.”
Bryan also said Tuesday that John Woodrich, Bryan Medical Center’s president and chief operating officer, will now be executive vice president of Bryan Health and president and CEO of Bryan Medical Center.
"This leadership transition will provide a high level of continuity for Bryan Health," Lester said in the news release.
Russel said she has "immense confidence" in the leadership team at Bryan Health and she praised the selection of Gronewold, an Adams native, to succeed her.
"We’re beginning the planning for several long-term projects, and our employees and patients deserve leadership that will be here to see these efforts come to fruition," she said.
As for what comes next, Russel did not reveal specific plans, but she did say she and her husband plan to remain in Lincoln.
"We’re still going to call Lincoln home, for all of the reasons that make it a great place to live — including wonderful health care," she said.
30 of the most influential women in Lincoln
Judi gaiashkibos is executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs and a national leader on Native issues. She is a member of the Racial Profiling Advisory Committee. She was the 2012 recipient of the Nebraska Humanities Sower Award and was appointed to the Doane Board of Trustees in 2012.
Anna Wishart is a state senator representing District 27; she serves on the Appropriations Committee. She previously served on the Airport Authority, and she has been active in the movement to legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska.
Anna is director of partnerships at Beyond School Bells, a coalition to improve access to quality expanded learning opportunities for Nebraska’s youth. Wishart and her husband are licensed foster parents, and she has served on the board of the Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and as spokesperson for Let’s Move Lincoln, an initiative to reduce childhood obesity.
Connie Duncan is a member of the Lincoln Public Schools Board of Education and is vice president of philanthropy for Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. She taught at LPS for 17 years and is director of the Duncan Family Trust. Duncan served as co-chair of the Great Schools for Great Children bond campaign in 2014 and is on the board of the Cooper Foundation.
Cyndi Lamm is a Lincoln city councilwoman representing northeast Lincoln. She has been a strong conservative voice and is running for mayor in 2019. She serves on the Boards of Directors of the People’s City Mission, the Autism Family Network, the Advocacy Partnership for People with Special Needs and Child Evangelism Fellowship.
Leirion Gaylor Baird
Leirion Gaylor Baird is a member of the Lincoln City Council and is running for mayor in 2019. She previously was a member of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission. She serves on the board of the Lincoln Community Foundation and helps raise funds for local nonprofit agencies. Gaylor Baird in 2014 was selected to be one of 12 leaders to be part of
NewDEAL, a national network committed to highlighting innovative ideas from state and local elected leaders who are pro-growth progressives.
Patty Pansing Brooks
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln is a member of the Nebraska Legislature but has been a longtime community leader, heading up a school bond issue and other campaigns.
Liz Koop is president and CEO of EducationQuest Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve access to higher education in Nebraska. Koop is co-chair of the Governor’s Education and Workforce Roundtable and is a truste
e of the University of Nebraska Foundation.
Kate Bolz is a state senator serving District 29 in the Nebraska Legislature. She also is executive director of the
Nebraska Association of Service Providers, a group of community-based disability service providers across the state, and a Union College professor. Bolz is active in Tabitha's Meals on Wheels program and is a member of the Lincoln Young Professionals Group. She is a NewDEAL leader.
Liz Shea-McCoy was the tour de force behind Tour de Lincoln, the city's first large-scale public art project in 2003, and many other public art projects. She has more than 25 years of experience with the Nebraska Arts Council and is a teaching artist for the Lied Center. Shea-McCoy received the distinguished service award for 2017 from the Kiwanis Club of Lincoln.
She has been board president of Friends of Arts Are Basic, is an adviser to the board of the Hildegard Center for the Arts and exhibition coordinator for the new County-City Building Exhibit Space.
Genelle Moore is background investigation/HR specialist for Lincoln Public Schools. She retired from a 30-year career on the Lincoln police force, where she was the first black woman officer and the first woman certified as a motorcycle officer.
JoAnn Martin is president and CEO of Ameritas. Martin became a member of the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame in 2015 and received the Dr. Barbara Hibner Trailblazer Award in 2012. She was the 2018 Inspire Awards Woman of the Year. She is 2019 chairwoman of the American Council of Life Insurers, chairwoman of the University of Nebraska Foundation board of directors and board member for National Research Corp.
Suzanne Geist is one of four women on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee in the Nebraska Legislature. She has served District 25 since 2016. She is a volunteer with Clinic With A Heart, Lincoln Berean Church and the American Heart Association.
Julie Schmit-Albin is the longtime executive director of Nebraska Right to Life and is a board member of National Right to Life. She began her tenure in the post in 1989.
Angie Muhleisen, being thanked by Youth Ambassador Easton Otto in May 2016, is president, chairman and chief executive officer of Union Bank & Trust. She is a director for Assurity Life Insurance and is on the board of counselors of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Kimberly Russel is chairman and chief executive officer of Bryan Health. In 2016, Russel joined the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank Kansas City's Omaha branch. She also serves on the board of the Community Health Endowment and others.
Mary Pipher has written 10 books, including the New York Times No. 1 best-seller "Reviving Ophelia," as well as campaigning against the Keystone XL pipeline in this photo from 2011. Pipher is a clinical psychologist who specializes in how modern culture affects the mental health of girls and women. Pipher was awarded the distinguished Presidential Award from the American Psychological Association in 1998. Her short fiction has won numerous awards, including the Alice P. Carter Award.
Barbara Bartle is president of the Lincoln Community Foundation. She took the post in 2010 after leading the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools for 18 years. Bartle received the 2017 Community Impact Award and was named Inspire Woman of the Year in 2017. She is shown here with Jeff Raikes, former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Carl Sjulin, CEO and president of West Gate Bank.
Miki Esposito is director of Public Works and Utilities, Lincoln's biggest department. Esposito began her career as an attorney for the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. In 2006, she joined the City Attorney's Office and represented the Public Works and Utilities Department in legal matters, including civil litigation, contract negotiation and legislation. In 2010, Esposito took a position as compliance administrator for Public Works and Utilities. She became interim director in 2011 and was named director several months later. She became the deputy director of policy and administration at the Nebraska Department of Roads in late 2015.
Deane Finnegan is a member of the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission. She serves on the advisory board of Rise Lincoln, is vice president of the Child Advocacy Center board and is a member of the 2019 Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent's Facility Advisory Committee. She is retired director of Leadership Lincoln.
Danielle Conrad (center) is executive director of ACLU Nebraska. Conrad served as a state senator in the Nebraska Legislature from 2006 to 2014. She also directed the initiative campaign to increase Nebraska's minimum wage. She is pictured with state Sens. Jeremy Nordquist (left) and Adam Morfeld (right) before a news conference in early 2015 in the Capitol to announce proposed legislation providing equal rights for LGBT Nebraskans.
Deb Schorr has been on the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners for 16 years. She was recently elected president of the Nebraska Association of County Officials. She has served in leadership positions with Westminster Presbyterian Church, Lincoln Southwest Boosters, Lincoln Community Playhouse, Maxey Elementary PTO, Homestead Girl Scouts and the Junior League of Lincoln.
Lynn Roper is senior vice president at Merrill Lynch Lincoln and has worked for the company since it opened its Lincoln office in 1977. Merrill Lynch honored her with its 2002 Lifetime Community Achievement Award. Roper has served on the board of directors of the Nebraska Community Foundation, University of Nebraska Foundation, Woods Charitable Fund, Lincoln Library Foundation, Nebraska Arts Council and Nebraska Environmental Trust.
Barbara Baier has served on the Lincoln Board of Education since 2005 and is responsible for grant writing for city departments. She was formerly development director for Lincoln Action Program.
Wendy Birdsall is president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development. She serves on the advisory board for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bureau of Business Research.
Jane Raybould is a member of the Lincoln City Council. Raybould is also vice president of B&R Stores. She has served on the Community Health Endowment board.
Kim Morrow is a senior associate at Verdis Group. She previously served as executive director at Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit working with all faith communities to address climate change. She also served as sustainability minister at First-Plymouth Church. She was honored in 2015 by the White House with a Champions of Change award and previously served as vice president of the board of WasteCap Nebraska.
Jennifer Gutierrez is president of JAG Consulting Inc. and has done diversity training and strategic planning for many major agencies and corporations, including U.S. Bank, United Way, Boy Scouts of America, Tobacco Free Nebraska, the State of Nebraska and the Nebraska National Guard.
Early in her career Gutierrez worked as communications liaison for the Guatemalan Development Foundation. She has served on the Nebraska Commission on the Status of Women as well as the Lincoln-Lancaster County Women's Commission, among other nonprofit boards.
Beatty Brasch, shown helping in the Center for People in Need's computer lab, is founder and advocate of the organization. Before establishing the center in 2003, she was director of the Lincoln Action Program. Brasch served on the board of the Lincoln Food Bank for nine years and is active in advocating for the poor to state and national leaders.
Alice Dittman is former president and CEO of Cornhusker Bank. Dittman continues to influence the community, in 2011 establishing the $1 million Alice's Integrity Loan Fund at the Lincoln Community Foundation to help budding entrepreneurs and small business owners. Dittman was the first woman to preside over the Lincoln and Nebraska Chambers of Commerce and the Nebraska Bankers Association as well as the Community Bankers Association. She was also the first woman to chair the Bryan Memorial Hospital board and to be elected to the Lincoln Country Club board.
Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.