Kevin W. Sowers, a distinguished clinician, educator, and academic health care leader, has been appointed president of the Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine, an $8 billion academic medical center and health system. He is the second person to hold this role.
Sowers joins Johns Hopkins Medicine after 32 years with the Duke University Health System, where for the last eight years he has served as president and CEO of Duke University Hospital.
The boards of trustees for Johns Hopkins Health System, Johns Hopkins University, and Johns Hopkins Medicine approved his appointment on Friday. Sowers will assume his new role on February 1, 2018.
Paul B. Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, announced the appointment to faculty and staff today through an email and via a live-streamed news conference.
"Kevin is a visionary leader with a deep understanding of the role and responsibilities of academic and community health centers, as well as the challenges we face," Rothman says. "With his experience leading a prestigious academic health center, his ability to forge strong collaborative relationships, and his demonstrated knack for thriving in complex environments, Kevin will be instrumental in advancing our mission and reinforcing our commitment to the communities we serve."
Sowers' predecessor, Ronald R. Peterson, announced in June of 2017 his plans to retire as president of Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine by the end of 2017. A search committee led by Rothman and David Hodgson, chair of the Johns Hopkins Medicine Board of Trustees, conducted an extensive national search.
As president of Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Sowers will help Rothman oversee a system of six hospitals in Maryland, Washington D.C., and Florida. Johns Hopkins Medicine also comprises several suburban health care and surgery centers; more than 40 outpatient primary health care sites; a full-service home care provider; managed care plans; and hospital management, consulting, and clinical education services around the world.
Together, the components of Johns Hopkins Medicine—the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Health System—employ more than 40,000 full-time faculty and staff.
At the news conference today, Rothman was joined by Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels, who offered his enthusiastic endorsement for the appointment.
"Navigating an ever-changing health care landscape and caring for patients and communities in the 21st century demands a rare combination of strategic planning and the ability to expect—and respond to—the unexpected," Daniels says. "Kevin has proven himself to be that rare leader, as he is someone who can see the future, then put in place the programs, practices, and partnerships necessary to get there."
Sowers, who attended the news conference, spoke of the impressive teamwork he experienced at Duke.
"One of the things that brings me to Johns Hopkins is that same kind of teamwork, the kind that saves lives and changes the world," Sowers says. "I wanted to come to another world-class organization to work with some of the brightest minds and biggest hearts. I am here today because that same spirit is so palpable at Johns Hopkins Medicine."
Sowers also acknowledged predecessor Ron Peterson's "unparalleled and extraordinary" impact on the health system and the Baltimore community. Peterson joined the news conference to offer his endorsement of his successor for these two roles.
"Based on Kevin's track record of success in positions of increasing responsibility in health care administration, I am comforted to know my successor understands the role of the health care executive in a world-class, academically focused health care system," Peterson says. "The combination of Kevin's clinical background, business acumen, and sensitivity to the human condition within the context of an academic medical system bodes well for the future of Johns Hopkins Health System and Johns Hopkins Medicine."
At Duke, Sowers held several faculty positions, including adjunct professor at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and Duke University Fuqua School of Business, and clinical associate at Duke University's Graduate School of Nursing. He served as a consultant to the Sun Yat-sen Cancer Center in Taiwan, establishing a much-needed department of oncology nursing and educating nurses on oncology care.
Prior to assuming his current position at Duke University Hospital, Sowers held numerous senior leadership positions across the Duke University Health System, including chief operating officer for Duke University Hospital and interim CEO for Durham Regional Hospital. He also held a variety of senior administrative roles overseeing the consolidation of Duke's clinical lab services, emergency and trauma services, and managed care and patient care services.
"I had the great fortune to witness the beauty, complexities, and challenges of health care delivery," Sowers said. "Whatever my position was at any moment, I consistently saw in my colleagues dedication and compassion, and a commitment to better the lives of others through advancing science and caring for the human spirit."
Sowers began his career with Duke University Medical Center Hospital in 1985 as a staff nurse in oncology. For the next nine years, he held several nursing leadership positions, including nurse educator, director of medical oncology and nurse internships, and director of cancer care consortium/unit manager for hematology/oncology/GYN oncology.
Sowers earned his bachelor of science degree from Capital University School of Nursing and a master of science from Duke University School of Nursing. He has published extensively and speaks nationally and abroad on issues such as leadership, organizational change, mentorship, and cancer care.
Active in many professional and community organizations, Sowers serves as chair of the AmSurg Board and is a member of the Vizient Board of Directors, North Carolina Hospital Association Board of Trustees, the North Carolina Institute of Medicine Board of Directors, and the Council of Teaching Hospitals Administrative Board. He is an American Academy of Nursing Fellow and has collaborated on numerous research efforts as well as consulted internationally. He has also served in leadership roles with the American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen, and the Oncology Nursing Society.
Sowers, 56, will be joined by his partner, Anthony Evans.
"Anthony and I are now happy to call Baltimore and Johns Hopkins Medicine home," Sowers says.
Correction: An earlier version of the article incorrectly identified the year in which Ron Peterson announced his plans to retire. The Hub regrets the error.