Scanlon to retire as CommonSpirit's chief advocacy officer

February 1, 2020

Colleen Scanlon is to retire June 30 as executive vice president and chief advocacy officer of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health. She has worked in advocacy leadership for one of CommonSpirit's two predecessor organizations, Catholic Health Initiatives, for more than two decades.


Kevin Lofton, chief executive of CommonSpirit, said that Scanlon "has dedicated her career to giving voice to the voiceless and to advancing the wide-ranging advocacy efforts that helped to define CHI, and now CommonSpirit."

At CHI and CommonSpirit, Scanlon has focused on building healthy communities, public policy, environmental stewardship, socially responsible investing and health and social justice. She helped to develop and direct CHI's advocacy programming to prevent violence and to raise awareness of human trafficking.

Scanlon chaired CHA's board of trustees in fiscal year 2009-2010, playing a key role in the association's pivotal advocacy work for the Affordable Care Act. CHA awarded Scanlon its Sister Concilia Moran Award in 2018. That award is for leaders who exhibit creativity and breakthrough thinking that advances the ministry.

Scanlon began her health care career as a registered nurse and worked in palliative care. She holds a master's in gerontology and a law degree, with a certificate in health law and policy. Prior to joining CHI, she was director of the American Nurses Association Center for Ethics and Human Rights in Washington and a clinical scholar in the Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Lofton said in his announcement of her retirement that her "imprint on changing health care in America has been extraordinary, and we will miss her wisdom, leadership and humanity."

Shelly Schlenker, system senior vice president of public policy and advocacy, will lead CommonSpirit's advocacy efforts upon Scanlon's departure.

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