November 4, 2013

Crain’s notes three legal leaders from across Sisters of Charity Health System in annual list

Crain’s Cleveland Business annually honors the best legal minds representing Northeast Ohio’s public, private, nonprofit and government organizations. This year, three leaders from across the Sisters of Charity Health System are being recognized as finalists in the Crain’s In-House and General Counsel Awards: Shannon Fogarty Jerse, Matthew Heinle and Nadine Ezzie. Read more in their profiles below.

GENERAL AND IN-HOUSE COUNSEL AWARDS

SHANNON FOGARTY JERSE

Deputy general counsel, Sisters of Charity Health System and general counsel, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center
Profile by RACHEL ABBEY MC CAFFERTY, Crain’s Cleveland Business


Shannon Fogarty Jerse's years of community and professional involvement are tied to the Sisters of Charity Health System's mission and ministry, said Terrence Kessler, its interim president and CEO.

Ms. Jerse, the deputy general counsel at the health system, was part of Cuyahoga County's Child Protection Coalition for three years, where she said she helped set policy on topics like how sexual abuse investigations should be run.

Her experience in health care and sexual abuse-related issues led to her work with the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Review Board that was created by the “Policy for the Safety of Children in Matters of Sexual Abuse.” She spent seven years on the board and was also on the investigations committee and served as chair of the search committee.

“Shannon is well-versed in her field and has participated in numerous pro bono and volunteer activities throughout her 25-year legal career,” the nomination said. “She has dedicated considerable volunteer time to matters involving child welfare and safety, and has integrated her scholarly work with pro bono efforts designed to serve and protect children and women at risk.”

Ms. Jerse worked at Cleveland-based Arter & Hadden, the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals before coming to Sisters of Charity, the parent organization of five Catholic hospitals, including St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland, and other foundations, organizations and health care facilities.

Ms. Jerse said she always had her eye on St. Vincent and that her goal was to work at the faith-based organization where she serves as general counsel. She said she enjoys the people she works with and the organization's rich tradition.

Ms. Jerse has been with the health system for about four years. In that time, the organization has moved from primarily keeping paper files to using a contract database that Ms. Jerse implemented and oversees.

Ms. Jerse is also the general counsel for the St. Vincent Charity Development Foundation as part of her work with St. Vincent Medical Center. She is responsible for contractual matters and governance issues at all three, said Mr. Kessler, who is also the general counsel for the Sisters of Charity Health System.

Mr. Kessler said Ms. Jerse has a good sense of when to check in with him and when to take the lead. She's bright and easy to work with, he added.

“She's got a great sparkle,” he said.

Outside of work, Ms. Jerse spends time with her family — she has four children, ages 10 to 20 — and volunteers at Our Lady of the Lake School Steering Committee and Our Lady of the Lake Endowment Committee. Her husband, Ed Jerse, is a former state representative who is now running for state Senate.



MATTHEW HEINLE

Executive vice president, general counsel, Mercy Medical Center
Profile by DAN SHINGLER, Crain’s Cleveland Business


Matthew Heinle has more than a few things to keep track of as general counsel for Mercy Medical Center in Canton.

More, say, than general counsels who have to deal with contracts, lawsuits, corporate governance and the other more typical legal issues that corporate attorneys, including Mr. Heinle, have to deal with every day.

“There's medical staff issues dealing with credentialing, peer-review processes — Matt has to be up on all of that,” says his boss, CEO Thomas Cecconi.

Then there are the human resources issues — Mercy has nearly 2,400 employees and Mr. Heinle is actively involved in HR issues as well, Mr. Cecconi said.

And, of course, there are a slew of federal and state health care laws and regulations.

There are organization-specific projects as well, such as in 2010 when Mercy successfully challenged rival Aultman Health Foundation's practice of paying insurance brokers to steer clients to Aultman's insurance company. Mr. Heinle oversaw those efforts as well, including getting the verdict against Aultman upheld by the Ohio Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court.

But Mr. Heinle does all of that and more, his boss says.

“I do like him very, very much,” Mr. Cecconi said. “I think he does an absolutely outstanding job at MMC and he's also involved to a certain degree with some of the legal concerns of our health system, Sisters of Charity Health System in Cleveland as well.”

But one of the things Mr. Cecconi likes best about his main lawyer is the fact that Mr. Heinle finds ways to get things done. It's easy to find a lawyer to tell you why you can't do something, but what executives more often need to know is how they can get something done, Mr. Cecconi said.

Mr. Cecconi actually hired Mr. Heinle, who he already knew from his days in private practice. In the five years since, he's only become more convinced he got the right guy, Mr. Cecconi said.

“It's not an easy job that he has, either,” Mr. Cecconi attests.

Others agree, including Baker & Hostetler partner Daniel Warren, who nominated Mr. Heinle for this year's general counsel recognition.

“My dad spent more than four decades as the general counsel of a large company, so I know how rare the qualities are that make for greatness in that difficult position,” Mr. Warren wrote. “Matt Heinle possesses every one of those qualities ... When I look back on my career of 30 years, I feel that one of the very best experiences I have had was working closely with Matt Heinle.”



NADINE EZZIE

Deputy general counsel and assistant secretary, Broadvox and vice chair, board of directors, Joseph’s Home
Profile by SCOTT SUTTELL, Crain’s Cleveland Business


Nadine Ezzie works for a digital phone service provider, so it makes sense that she's an exemplary communicator.

“She's very direct and concise, and she brings a rigorous intellectual approach to discussions,” says Arnaud Gautier, chief marketing officer at Broadvox, the telecom provider Ms. Ezzie joined about two-and-a-half years ago. “That's something I really appreciate in working with lawyers.”

Mr. Gautier, who joined Broadvox in May 2012 from telecom company MegaPath, said he was surprised to learn, upon meeting Ms. Ezzie, that she only had been at the company for about a year.

“I definitely thought she had joined quite a bit prior to that, based on the expertise” she brought to internal discussions, and, subsequently, to external negotiations with vendors and other parties, he said.

According to her nomination, Ms. Ezzie “has provided leadership in both the legal aspects of the company's work but in the culture of our company as well.”

For instance, the nomination noted that Ms. Ezzie recently worked on a $32 million asset purchase agreement in which she “participated in the negotiations, drafted the document, interfaced with management to produce the multitude of documentation required, and most importantly, provided the organization skills to keep the process on track and focused on the required achievables.”

As a national telecom provider, Broadvox's work “is highly regulated by the FCC and by multiple state public utility commissions,” the nomination stated. Ms. Ezzie works closely with regulatory bodies, and, in addition to making sure required filings are correct and timely, “provides insight and guidance to employees so that they are knowledgeable of the many laws and regulations that impact their work.”

One way she has done that is through the launch of an employee training program, in which Broadvox's legal and human resources areas present one-hour seminars open to all of the company's 240-plus employees.

Topics have ranged from leadership development to unfair competition. Mr. Gautier described the program as a measure that helps identify “the rocks beneath the water” on regulatory and other matters.

Ms. Ezzie also launched a Women's Leadership Committee within Broadvox; it's a group comprised of about 50 women from the company's U.S. offices in Cleveland, Atlanta and Seattle.

The program, which draws on some of the principles raised in the best-selling book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” by Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, helps women “share strengths and increase business skills,” according to the nomination.

“In a time when the business day is already filled with time-sensitive projects and last-minute deadlines, (Ms. Ezzie) has managed to inspire and guide a significant group of employees to take initiative and grow skills and abilities that ... will continue to benefit the company, and the people in the group for many years,” the nomination stated.

Ms. Ezzie also co-authored the company's first employee handbook, and other Broadvox employees “seek her out for advice and guidance,” according to the nomination.

She serves on the board of Joseph's Home and currently is vice chair of that nonprofit, which provides a nurturing, caring environment for men in transition with acute medical needs.

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