Atlanta, GA,
09:59 AM

Shepherd Center Announces New Board Chair to Continue Creating “I Can” Moments for Patients

Alana Shepherd, co-founder of Shepherd Center, will lead the board of directors for the world-class neurorehabilitation hospital.

Shepherd Center, a world-class neurorehabilitation hospital nearing its 45th anniversary, announced today that co-founder Alana Shepherd has been named the Chair of the Board of Directors.

Alana succeeds her son, James H. Shepherd, Jr., who served as the Chairman of the Board for 44 years until his passing in December 2019. Having Alana as Chair of the Board ensures that Shepherd Center will continue to thrive in today’s complex healthcare environment, said Sarah Morrison, PT, MBA, MHA, president and CEO of Shepherd Center.

“As one of our co-founders and a true visionary, Alana is uniquely suited to lead the Shepherd Center Board of Directors,” Morrison said. “We are thrilled that she agreed to continue her steadfast commitment to ensuring that Shepherd Center remains the bridge from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’ for our patients and their families.”

Shepherd Center started as one family’s vision, and its strong legacy is now carried forward by a team of thinkers, innovators, leaders and clinicians who collaborate to produce the nation’s best neurorehabilitation outcomes for patients, Morrison said. In fact, Shepherd Center’s leaders had the foresight more than a decade ago to ensure excellence by creating a robust succession plan for Shepherd Center – a critical effort for every successful enterprise. The plan ensures that the hospital’s commitment to a culture of excellence and a comprehensive continuum of care remains the cornerstone of every effort.

Succession Plan Efforts To Date

Shepherd Center has carefully deliberated and executed plans to ensure the succession of its leadership and the future of its operations and fundraising, Morrison said.

Since 2014, Shepherd Center has successfully completed transitions for eight key senior leadership roles. They are the appointments of:

  • Sarah Morrison, PT, MBA, MHA, to president and CEO in 2017 after the retirement of Gary Ulicny, Ph.D., who served 23 years in the role.
  • Michael Yochelson, M.D., MBA, as chief medical officer in 2017 after Donald Peck Leslie, M.D., retired after serving as medical director for 13 years, before which he served as an employed physician during his 31-year career at Shepherd Center.  
  • Jamie Shepherd, MBA, MHA, to chief operating officer in 2019.
  • Chet Bhasin, FACHE, MBA, MS, to chief strategy officer in 2019.
  • Brian Barnette, CHCIO, CPHIMS, PMP to vice president and chief information officer in 2016.
  • Katie Metzger, OTR, MBA, to director of brain injury services in 2019, after the retirement of Susan Johnson, MA, CCC-SLP, after more than 21 years in the role.
  • Sarah Batts, MBA, to executive director of the Shepherd Center Foundation in 2016.
  • Lorie Hutcheson to vice president of human resources in 2014, after the retirement of Betsy Fox after 23 years.

“We have been strategic and intentional in building a strong and dynamic leadership team,” Morrison said. “This next generation of leaders will continue to build upon our strong foundation and ensure Shepherd Center’s future for generations to come.”

Another milestone was the Board of Directors’ decision more than 15 years ago to establish the Shepherd Center Foundation and Board of Trustees to ensure philanthropic sustainability, Morrison noted. Since that time, support has increased by 250%. The Foundation also launched a successful next-generation engagement plan to ensure a thriving pipeline of philanthropic support. Today, the Foundation is building a network of national donors to ensure long-term philanthropic sustainability.

Shepherd Center History

Alana, her husband, Harold, as well as James and David Apple, M.D., co-founded Shepherd Center after James sustained a paralyzing spinal cord injury in 1973. Frustrated by the lack of state-of-the-art rehabilitation care in the southeastern United States, the family galvanized support among the Atlanta community to open a facility to provide specialized care for people with spinal cord injuries.

In 1975, Shepherd Center began as a six-bed unit operating out of leased space in an Atlanta hospital. It has grown exponentially in its 45 years from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that specializes in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions.

“Throughout its history, Shepherd Center has always maintained its original goals – to provide a patient- and family-centered approach to rehabilitation while encouraging patients to look beyond their injuries and embrace the possibilities ahead,” Morrison said.

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.