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Published on May 31, 2018

Bob Sutton is Named New President and CEO of Avera


Today, Avera Health is proud to announce that Bob Sutton has been named as its new President and CEO. Sutton will begin his new role June 18, succeeding John Porter, who is retiring after 44 years of leadership to the organization.

Sutton, of Sioux Falls, has 25+ years of professional leadership experience, most recently as Avera Executive Vice President of Human Resources. He has been with Avera since 2013 and has served in roles that include Regional President and CEO of Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre and Senior Vice President of Community Relations.

His wealth of professional and executive experience includes positions as President of the South Dakota Community Foundation, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Citibank of South Dakota, Executive Vice President for the South Dakota Bankers Association, Executive Director of both the South Dakota Petroleum Council and South Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association, and Executive Director of the South Dakota Association of County Officials.

A rigorous, national search process resulted in a large response from many qualified candidates. “We narrowed the field down to several outstanding candidates, from both inside and outside of Avera. Bob was set apart by his enthusiasm and commitment to the Avera mission, his vast knowledge of South Dakota, its communities and surrounding states, and his compassion as a servant leader,” said Sr. Mary Kay Panowicz, Avera System Members Chair and Chair of the CEO Search Committee.

Avera is 20 years old as an organization, and its predecessor organizations date back more than a century with the founding of hospitals such as Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls, and Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, among others. Following Porter, Sutton is the second President and CEO of the Avera system.

“Bob brings important experience from both health care and non-health care leadership. His visionary leadership skills will continue Avera’s growth and strategic development as one of the nation’s most sophisticated health systems delivering rural health care,” Sr. Panowicz said. Avera has 300 locations in 100 communities in five states, offering a full range of hospitals, clinics, long-term care centers, retirement communities, home care, hospice, sports and fitness centers, home medical equipment outlets and health insurance. Additionally, Avera’s virtual health care provides services across the country in 17 states.

Sutton’s time as Avera’s top Human Resources executive has given him a strong connection with Avera’s 17,500 employees. “He has a true calling to be a part of Avera’s health care ministry,” Sr. Panowicz said. “He will provide new perspectives, yet bring with him a great deal of continuity from his former Avera roles. Both aspects will be important in taking Avera to the next level in the complex and rapidly evolving health care marketplace.”

“Mission is the foundational, fundamental core of our organization, and I aspire to lead with vision and courage as we set a clear direction for growth and future strengthening of our organization,” Sutton said.

Sutton is currently President of the South Dakota Board of Regents, completing a term that ends in 2019. He also has extensive past and present involvement on boards, including the Bush Foundation’s South Dakota Advisory Committee and South Dakota Housing Development Authority Board.

Born and raised in South Dakota, Sutton holds a Master’s of Public Administration degree from The University of South Dakota in Vermillion, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, also from USD. He and his wife, Lori, have two grown children, Madison and Matthew.

“I am honored that the Sisters who lead Avera have placed their confidence in me as the next President and CEO, and at the same time I’m humbled to follow those who have provided such tremendous leadership in the past. I’m excited to work together with the Sisters and my Avera colleagues to continue to meet the challenges and move Avera forward as a leading health care organization,” Sutton said.



About Avera Health

The Avera Health system has over 17,500 employees and physicians, serving more than 300 locations and 100 communities in a five-state region. Our ministry, our people and our superior value distinguish Avera. We carry on the health care legacy of our sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton, S.D., and the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen, S.D., delivering care in an environment guided by our values of compassion, hospitality and stewardship. For more information about Avera, see our website at



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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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