St. Charles Health System CFO receives honor

BEND, Ore. - St. Charles Health System's Karen Shepard has been named Portland Business Journal's Nonprofit CFO of the Year.

Shepard received her award Thursday at a Portland luncheon attended by more than 500 people.

Upon Shepard's arrival at St. Charles in January 2009, the health system had experienced two years of operating losses and significant negative financial impacts as a result of the financial market's crash in 2008. The downturn in the number of days of cash on hand put St. Charles' compliance with bond covenants at risk and made the financial infrastructure unstable.

"Since joining the health system, Karen has continually strengthened and improved our financial position. She is an incredibly valued member of our leadership team," said James A. Diegel, FACHE, president and CEO of St. Charles Health System. "This award is well-deserved, and I congratulate Karen on this prestigious accomplishment."

Over the past four years, Shepard's focus has been placed on stabilizing the financial infrastructure to include timely, accurate reporting and performing data analyses to identify performance gaps. Non-performing assets were turned around, closed or sold if they were not core to St. Charles' business.

As a result of these activities — and deleveraging the balance sheet — St. Charles' bond rating was upgraded by Moody's Investors Service in 2010 and again in 2012.

Shepard has spent 25 years in the health care industry, including as CFO for Physician Partners/HealthFirst Medical Group in Portland; director of finance for Providence Health System in Seattle and CFO for PeaceHealth Oregon Region in Eugene.

A certified public accountant and a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, Shepard received a BS in Business Administration from Portland State University and an MBA from University of Oregon.

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