Where are they now? Ministry executives find new callings, fresh challenges in retirement

February 1, 2018


Catholic Health World recently caught up with seven retired ministry executives, who all said their careers as servant leaders nurtured an ongoing desire to work on behalf of others.

Eileen Barsi
When she retired from Dignity Health in 2014, Eileen Barsi was well known in community benefit circles. A member of the first generation of leaders in community benefit, she'd headed CHA's community benefit committee and mentored many present-day leaders in the field.

Eileen Barsi leads a panel at the Stakeholder Health conference held in September at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Barsi was a go-to resource for community benefit professionals who, starting a decade ago, were tasked with assigning a monetary value to their hospital's community benefit activities. That's when the federal government began requiring tax-exempt hospitals to file an IRS 990, Schedule H form to specify the value of their community benefit activities.

Barsi offered sage advice to her colleagues in the ministry. She also provided guidance as ministry members tackled the early rounds of community health needs assessments to identify and fill health care service gaps as required by the Affordable Care Act.

In retirement, she continues to provide health care organizations with technical advice on population and community health improvement initiatives.

Through Learning in Collaborative Communities, a project led by the Health Research & Educational Trust and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she coaches others to build a culture of health. She's contributed to a book on best practices in community benefit, Stakeholder Health: Insights from New Systems of Health.

Barsi and her husband live in the Northern California coastal city of Pacifica, where she serves on her parish council and chairs the church liturgy committee.

Sandra Bruce
Sandra Bruce is channeling her experience in health care administration into board and hands-on volunteer work with Detroit-based Global Health Resources, and its subsidiary Global Health Charities. Bruce retired two years ago as president and chief executive of Chicago-based Presence Health, having guided that system's creation in 2011, through the merger of Provena Health and Resurrection Health Care. She's a past CHA board chair.

Sandra Bruce, at right, takes part in a team-building and ice-breaking exercise with a group of Vietnam hospital executives during a workshop in Hanoi in 2017. Bruce was among the presenters in the workshop to advise hospital management on how to strengthen their facilities' performance.

She's raised tens of thousands of dollars for Global Health Resources, a nonprofit with a mission to ensure more people worldwide have access to quality health care services. As a Global Health Resources volunteer, she's taught classes in health administration in Hanoi, Vietnam, and contributed to an assessment of that country's public hospital system.

She provides elbow grease too. She estimates she's personally packed a couple thousand sterile birthing kits with hospital-grade supplies. Global Health Charities distributes the kits overseas where they are used to clean and prepare an area as a safer environment to give birth. Bruce will be delivering some of the kits to the Amazon later this year and provide basic education on how to use them.

Now residing in Berrien Springs, Mich., Bruce and her husband Russ enjoy spending time at their lake home, traveling and rooting on the Detroit Tigers.

Ron DiLuigi
Ron DiLuigi worked to advance health care access and social justice initiatives while he was vice president and chief advocacy officer of St. Joseph Health of Irvine, Calif. Since retiring in 2015 he's been drawn to volunteer opportunities "that continue efforts for a just health care system."

Ron DiLuigi

He's on the boards of Cal–Optima, Orange County, California's managed care organization for Medicaid and Medicare and a federally qualified health center that St. Joseph helped found. He counsels people having difficulty navigating California's Medicare enrollment process, which involves choosing from among numerous plan choices.

He's on a committee developing the "Family of St. Joseph," an organization that will enable laity to promote the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the founders of the health system, which is now part of Providence St. Joseph Health.

DiLuigi, who lives in Yorba Linda in Southern California, says he and wife Paula are traveling more and spending time with their three children and six grandchildren.

Retirement has brought more opportunities to travel for Don Eggleston and his wife Mary Ann, seen here on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Don Eggleston
Don Eggleston says he "was ready for a change after 30 years in health care" when he retired in 2016 as system vice president of mission integration for SSM Health. "I wanted to teach more — I love teaching and learning," he says.

At the start of his retirement, Eggleston says, he cleaned the garage three times in the first three weeks. But, he's since found his stride, teaching, writing, mentoring students, spending time traveling with his wife Mary Ann, hiking, praying.

He co-facilitates a series of monthly workshops at Saint Louis University, helping retirees make rewarding life changes by applying principles developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola. And last month he published an e-book on maintaining mission integrity and leading change that is targeted to leaders in education, social services, churches and health care.

He says he hopes the work he's doing in retirement will help people to be inspired about what they are doing in life, to practice self-care, and to cultivate an inner life. "Faith, purpose, generosity, friendship, gratitude," he says, are what is important.

Nancy Mulvihill
As a vice president of corporate communications at Covenant Health of Tewksbury, Mass., from 1988 to 2014, Nancy Mulvihill championed environmental and social justice initiatives within the system and, through CHA, across the Catholic health ministry. She helped power the ministry's green initiatives and contributed to its efforts to battle human trafficking. But most of all, she has always loved working on behalf of the elderly.

In her early retirement, Nancy Mulvihill helped her husband host a weekly talk radio show, "Fireside," on a Boston-area station. The show was promoted on several billboards around Boston.

A year before she retired from Covenant, which includes hospitals and long-term care facilities, Mulvihill became president of Neighbors Who Care. The nonprofit based in Waltham, Mass., provides volunteers to be companions to elders who have outlived friends and family. The organization was launched by a member of Covenant's founding congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Montreal. Mulvihill became its president about a year before she retired, an office she held until September of 2016. She continues as its chief fundraiser and administrator.

Mulvihill, of Winchester, Mass., also leads workshops at eldercare facilities titled "How to Turn the Lemons of Life into Belgian Chocolates." The workshops encourage laughter, smiling and a good attitude on life for all people, most especially elders.

She says she hopes her work will help inspire people to "celebrate the lives of our elders, who have given so much to our world."

Mulvihill is now enjoying a second retirement, of sorts. When she was preparing to exit Covenant, Mulvihill says, her husband "hijacked" her into helping him host a weekly radio talk show, "Fireside." The format included interviews and banter with comics, poets, authors and others. The show, which aired on WMEX-AM in Boston, ended when the radio station was sold in the fall of 2015.

Gino Pazzaglini
For more than three decades Gino Pazzaglini was at the helm of Ascension hospitals in Pottsville, Pa., and in Troy, N.Y, where he navigated the shift from inpatient care to a greater focus on outpatient care, and created strategies to position the hospitals to benefit from new risk and reward models of financing and new ways of partnering with other providers.

Gino Pazzaglini visits with three Daughters of Charity in 2014 at the international provincial house of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul at Rue de Bac, Paris, France. He says The Daughters of Charity, and particularly Sr. Kathleen Appler, shown here second from left, have been instrumental in his formation.

Pazzaglini, who relocated to Raleigh, N.C., after retiring in 2010, says through all the challenges of leading in such a transformative time, he viewed his career as an expression of a personal calling "to touch people's lives in a meaningful way …"

He continues that quest as a member of the Ascension Sponsor, the ministerial juridic person of Ascension. He focuses on what he calls the "single most important role" of sponsors: formation. He provides insight, guidance and oversight to Ascension as it refines its approach to formation. This includes helping Ascension to develop and refine its formation resources and activities for associates throughout the system. He is an officer of the board of Fidelis Care NY, a Catholic-sponsored insurance ministry.

Retirement also has afforded Pazzaglini and wife Debbie time to travel and to spend quality time with their 11 grandchildren.

Robert Stanek
Robert Stanek, who retired in 2010 as president and chief executive of the former Catholic Health East, chaired the CHA Board of Trustees at the start of his retirement. During his chairmanship, he and his wife Noel secured $10 million in ministry pledges to replace St. Francis de Sales Hospital, a Catholic hospital destroyed in Haiti's 2010 earthquake. The new hospital opened in 2015.

Fly-fishing is among the many avocations Robert Stanek enjoys in retirement. He released this palomino trout after the photograph.

Stanek says in retirement, he provides expertise to organizations in two sectors "that need people with a little grey in the beard": venture capital-backed companies and fledgling entrepreneurial companies, and struggling not-for-profits.

For the start-ups, he's served as board member, advisor and consultant. For the not-for-profits, he's provided advice usually on a pro bono or reduced-fee-basis — through a consultancy he and his wife Noel formed two years ago. Prior to her retirement, Noel Stanek founded and ran a consultancy that focused on attracting major gifts and organizing fundraising campaigns for not-for-profit organizations. For the Staneks, who live in Windermere, Fla., the "giveback" is the reason for their post-retirement work.

In his free time, Stanek enjoys designing interiors and exteriors of residential homes and other property rehab work. He also loves fly-fishing and restoring antique cars.



Copyright © 2018 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.

Copyright © 2018 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.