Saint Francis Community Services names new president and CEO

Posted Jun 5, 2014

ens_060514_friarbobby[Saint Francis Community Services – Salina, Kansas] The Saint Francis Community Services Board of Directors has named The Rev. Robert Nelson Smith, currently of Peru, Illinois, as the child and family services provider’s sixth president and chief executive officer. Fr. Smith will assume his new duties on July 7.

“Fr. Smith, an Episcopal priest, has an extensive background in healthcare administration and is excited to couple that experience with the work of Saint Francis Community Services,” said Board Chair The Rev. Dennis Gilhousen. “We believe he is exactly the right person to continue leading Saint Francis as we touch the lives of so many people.”

Ordained to the priesthood in 2009, Fr. Smith earned his Master of Arts in Ministry, cum laude, from Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin. For the last three years, he has served as associate rector to four churches that form the LaSalle County (Illinois) Episcopal Ministry within the Diocese of Chicago.

Since 2009, Fr. Smith has also served as Vice President, Physician Services and Quality/COO for Illinois Valley Community Hospital (IVCH), overseeing department operational budgets of more than $125 million while developing strategies to improve patient care and safety and access to services. He also supervised operations for the IVCH Medical Group, which provides a range of healthcare services including primary care, specialized care, mental health services, and a community clinic to meet the needs of uninsured and underinsured patients.

Prior to joining IVCH, Fr. Smith served as Director of Growth and Support Services for ThedaCare Physicians, and gained expertise in process improvement methods. ThedaCare is based in Appleton, Wisconsin.

He has also served as Vice President of Physician Services for Community Health Network, a partnership of two critical access hospitals in north central Wisconsin, and as Director of Corporate Communications and Director of Professional Services for St. Mary’s Good Samaritan, Inc., a Catholic not-for-profit healthcare system in Illinois.

Prior to his healthcare experience, Fr. Smith worked on Capitol Hill with a public policy focus on environmental, transportation, and infrastructure issues critical to rural communities.

In all, Fr. Smith brings nearly 20 years of healthcare and public policy experience to Saint Francis Community Services.

“I am humbled to have been asked to help guide the future of Saint Francis Community Services – the ministry that Fr. Mize began in 1945 and that Fr. Ed and the Board of Directors have carried forward is truly God’s work,” said Fr. Smith. “When I began my career in healthcare, my organization’s mission statement compelled us to continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, with special concern for the poor and vulnerable. This challenge has never left me and to know that Saint Francis Community Services is committed, at its most fundamental level, to providing the healing to children and families found in the forgiving, redeeming love of Christ is, for me, a ministry and calling to which I now dedicate my every effort.” 

Fr. Smith succeeds The Very Reverend Edward Fellhauer, who announced his retirement late last year after 12 years at the SFCS helm. 

About Saint Francis Community Services
Saint Francis Community Services is an Episcopal donor-supported, faith-based, child and family, community-based service provider that has been a voice of hope for children and families since 1945. Our mission is to be an instrument of healing for children, youths, and families in spirit, mind, and body, so they live responsibly and productively with purpose and hope. For more information about Saint Francis, visit www.st-francis.org or call 1-800-423-1342.


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