Mission Health
A part of the former Mission Health complex in Asheville were construction is underway in June 2019, even as the company's acquisition by HCA is completed. Frank Taylor / Carolina Public Press

Antony Chiang, president of Empire Health Foundation, grew an initial $156 million in proceeds from the sale of a nonprofit hospital system in eastern Washington state into a hefty endowment fund.

Now, he’ll have the opportunity to grow a much larger nest egg, the approximately $1.5 billion-asset Dogwood Health Trust in Western North Carolina.

On Aug. 13, Chiang, 51, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, was named the inaugural CEO of Dogwood overseeing daily operations “ensuring fiscal, operational, human resources, technology, communication and programming strategies” at the more than 6-month-old Asheville-based philanthropy, according to a position summary put out by Witt/Kieffer, the search firm engaged by Dogwood to find its first chief executive officer.

Chiang beat out more than 350 individuals identified by the firm.

Antony Chiang has been named the first chief executive officer of the Asheville-based Dogwood Health Trust.

Empire Health Foundation, based in Spokane, Wash., was created when Community Health Systems of Tennessee, a for-profit hospital system, purchased the nonprofit Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital for $156 million. As a condition of that transaction, Community Health Systems was required to set aside $80 million in proceeds for an independent nonprofit, akin to Dogwood, for charitable purposes.

Chiang holds a degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California-Berkeley and a law degree from Stanford University.

The organization’s first grant was made in 2011 as part of an obesity prevention initiative.

In its 2013-15 reporting period, Empire Health Foundation increased the size of its managed grants portfolio by about 900 percent by developing partnerships with various public and private entities, the group’s website says.

Today, Empire’s assets stand at approximately $77 million and are largely applied to social determinants of human health, factors that impact an individual’s well-being, which are also Dogwood’s ongoing focus.

Empire’s website identifies four core areas of activity as it serves stakeholders in urban, rural and tribal areas: improving health outcomes; strengthening health systems through a subsidiary, Better Health Together, credited with reducing the ranks of the uninsured; growing the pipeline of physicians to meet community shortages; and building nonprofit capacity by attracting outside funding to eastern Washington.

In a statement announcing Chiang’s departure, Empire Health Foundation board chair Jeffrey Bell cited Chiang’s successes in collaboration with community partners, including “radically reducing the uninsured rate in the region, improving the childhood obesity rate, reducing out-of-school suspension rates and disparities, increasing the pipeline of primary care physicians, reducing the entry rate disparities into foster care, among others.”

At Dogwood, social determinants are front and center, and Chiang’s goals and objectives for his first 18 months on the job include quickly becoming steeped in the social determinants of health that are most important to the 18-county Western North Carolina region.

Another key duty is to become “the external face of Dogwood Health Trust,” a public role that will take on special significance when he is expected to speak at public forums at three community colleges later this year.

Chiang begins his new job in November.

“In Antony Chiang, we’ve found a leader who has lived the journey on which Dogwood Health is about to embark,” Dogwood Health Trust’s board chair Janice Brumit said in a news release that announced his arrival.

“His commitment to health equity and inclusion, his talent for forging meaningful partnerships, and his ingenious approach to solving chronic problems that affect health and wellness will be invaluable as we enter this next important chapter for Dogwood Health Trust.”

Chiang will relocate to the Asheville area with his wife, Caroline Yu, and daughters Kara, 13, and Camille, 6.

Previous reporting on Dogwood Health Trust

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Neil Cotiaux is a contributing writer for Carolina Public Press. He is based in Wilmington. Send an email to info@carolinapublicpress.org to contact him.

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