Lester J. Owens Named Chair of RWJBarnabas Health Board of Trustees

Dr. Susan Reinhard to Serve as Vice-Chair

Lester Owens and Susan Reinhard

Lester Owens                          Dr. Susan Reinhard

West Orange, New Jersey, June 28, 2022 – Today, RWJBarnabas Health announced the appointment of Lester J. Owens as the new Chair of the RWJBarnabas Health Board of Trustees, effective immediately. Mr. Owens will be the first African American to hold this position in the system.

A Founding member of the Board, Mr. Owens has served as Vice Chair since 2019 and has served on its Audit, Compliance, Compensation, Nominating and Governance, as well as Racism and Social Justice Committees. He is also a long-time trustee of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick where he has served on the Compensation, Finance, Pediatric Program and Investment Committees.

Mr. Owens serves on the Operating Committee and is the Senior Executive Vice President and head of Operations for Wells Fargo & Company, where he oversees a team of more than 70,000 employees and is responsible for building a more unified, integrated approach to Wells Fargo’s business operations functions. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Mr. Owens was the Global Head of Operations at BNY Mellon. He has also led significant operations functions for JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Citibank, and Bankers Trust.

“Lester has been at the helm of some of the largest and most well-known companies in the world, consistently managing complex, multifaceted projects with skill and dedication,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health. “His leadership and expertise have been tremendous assets to our organization and will be instrumental to our continued growth.”

As evidence of his belief in service to the community, Mr. Owens has lent his time and knowledge to numerous non-profit organizations devoted to expanding the reach of higher education, particularly in communities where such opportunities have been scarce.

“I feel very privileged to take on this role at such a pivotal moment for healthcare, as the needs of RWJBarnabas Health’s patients, employees, communities, and other stakeholders are quickly evolving. The system is wholly committed to its mission of improving the health, quality of life, and vitality of the communities it serves. It has approached this in thoughtful and innovative ways that will benefit all stakeholders for years to come,” said Mr. Owens.

In his new role, Mr. Owens will continue to drive a key RWJBarnabas Health focus on providing accessible, high-quality health care to the citizens of New Jersey. Among his priorities will include the ongoing work to transform the patient experience, advance mental and behavioral health for individuals across the lifespan and drive social impact through strategic programs and policies that ensure health equity and address the social, economic, and environmental conditions that have a significant effect on health outcomes. He will work to advance the academic healthcare system and expand the partnerships with Rutgers University. He will also work closely with the system’s executive leadership to build on the tremendous successes that have helped to position RWJBarnabas Health as a world-class academic health institution.

"We are pleased to welcome Lester as our new Board Chair,” said Mark Manigan, President of RWJBarnabas Health. “His voice and vision will help RWJBarnabas Health continue to make a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve.”

Mr. Owens earned a B.A. from Long Island University and an Executive MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Susan Reinhard, PhD, MSN, BSN, named new Vice-Chair, has served as a Founding member of the Corporate Board since 2016 and serves on the Compliance and Strategic Planning/Academic Affairs Committee and is Chair of the Quality Committee. She has also served on the Board of Directors for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital since 2013 and has served on its Finance, Strategic Planning and Quality Committees. Dr. Reinhard is the Senior Vice President and Director for the AARP Public Policy Institute and Chief Strategist of the Center to Champion Nursing in America and Family Caregiving Initiatives where she oversees teams working on health security, financial security, and family, home, and community issues. Previously, Dr. Reinhard was Professor and Co-Director of the Rutgers University Center for State Health Policy, where she contributed to the formulation of sound and creative state health policy in New Jersey. She also served as Deputy Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services from 1996-1999 and again from 2002-2005. In that role, Dr. Reinhard served three governors from both political parties. She earned a Ph.D. from Rutgers University and an MSN from University of Cincinnati.

In other action, Richard J. Kogan was named Trustee Emeritus for the Board, in deepest gratitude for his many years of service. In addition to his work for the system, he had been an active member of the Saint Barnabas (now Cooperman Barnabas) Medical Center Board of Trustees since 1992 and had served as its Chairman for several years. Prior to that, he served as Vice-Chairman of the SBMC Board, and was also a Vice-Chairman of Barnabas Health.

RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering nine counties with five million people. The system includes twelve acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton in Hamilton, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway in Rahway, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, and Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth; three acute care children's hospitals; Children’s Specialized Hospital, including a network of outpatient centers; a behavioral health center and the state’s largest behavioral health network; two trauma centers; a satellite emergency department; ambulatory care centers; geriatric centers; comprehensive home care and hospice programs; fitness and wellness centers; retail pharmacy services; an affiliated medical group; multi-site imaging centers; and two accountable care organizations.

RWJBarnabas Health is one of New Jersey’s largest private employers – with more than 38,000 employees and 9,000 physicians – and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with Rutgers University, is New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. The collaboration aligns RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research, and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey – the state's only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center – and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.