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Published on December 15, 2017

Avera President and CEO Announces Plans to Retire



Avera Health’s long-time President and CEO, John Porter, has announced plans to retire.

“John has had an amazing 44-year career with Avera. He has been pivotal in the formation of our health system, its tremendous growth over the past four decades, and the development of innovative programs,” said Sr. Mary Kay Panowicz, Avera System Members Chair. The System Members are comprised of six Sisters, three from each of the two religious orders that sponsor Avera – the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton and the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen. This group provides guidance and direction to the leadership of Avera Health.

“We feel blessed to have had John’s partnership and collaboration in our health ministry. He has truly been a remarkable leader. Over the coming days and months we will celebrate Avera’s many accomplishments achieved under his leadership,” said Sr. Joan Reichelt, Avera System Members Vice Chair and Executive Vice President of Culture at Avera.

Porter will stay in his current role until December 2018, or until his successor is selected.

“It’s been a unique privilege to be at the helm of Avera Health over the past four decades. Next December, I will be turning 70 years old, so I feel that now is the right time for me to begin taking steps toward my retirement and helping Avera to make this important transition,” Porter said.

The Avera System Members will contract with a professional executive search firm that will assist in developing a robust selection process for Avera’s next President and CEO. Additionally, a search committee will be formed, comprised of System Members and members of the Avera Health Board of Directors to seek a replacement.

Porter completed his undergraduate studies at The University of South Dakota and earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the USD School of Law.

As a member of a Yankton law firm, he served as a staff attorney for the Sisters beginning in 1974, and progressed to Associate General Counsel. In the 1970s, as legal counsel, he helped form the structures for both the Benedictine and Presentation health systems. He became Executive Vice President for the Presentation Health System (PHS) in 1984, and President/CEO of PHS in 1989.

In the late 1990s, he facilitated the process as both religious orders came together in an innovative co-sponsorship model, and in 2000 was named President and CEO of the newly formed Avera Health.

Porter has led Avera through a time of tremendous growth. He has built upon the Avera system from its traditional hospital/nursing home-centered context to becoming a fully integrated care continuum that includes a full range of hospitals, clinics, long-term care centers, retirement communities, home care, hospice, sports and fitness centers, home medical equipment outlets, health insurance, telehealth and more. He has championed Avera’s model of partnerships, allowing Avera to excel at delivering quality care, close to home across the Upper Midwest.

“During his extraordinary tenure, John has been a faithful steward and keeper of our mission, allowing it to flourish so that the health ministry of Avera could be shared by more than 17,000 employees,” Sr. Panowicz said.





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