Management and executive team

On a regional management level, Northern Health’s operations are the responsibility of an executive team, headed by CEO Ciro Panessa. The executive team is responsible for functions that include (but not limited to):

  • Developing operational plans for objectives set out by Northern Health’s Board and making sure that those plans are acted upon;
  • Preparation of budget, capital, and human resources plans;
  • Approving consistent regional standards for programs and services; and
  • Approval of regional policies for the organization.

Most of Northern Health’s services such as hospitals, home care, and residential care run within three geographic operating divisions: the Northeast, Northern Interior, and Northwest. These are called health service delivery areas (HSDAs). A senior operating officer (SOO) manages each HSDA and reports directly to the VP, Clinical Operations.

Northern Health’s CEO and executive organizational structure 2023 (PDF)

Executive team

Ciro Panessa: President and Chief Executive Officer

Ciro Panessa: President and Chief Executive Officer

Born in Prince Rupert and raised in Vancouver, Ciro has served as the Regional Director, Chronic Diseases, and since 2017, as the Northwest Health Service Delivery Area (HSDA) Chief Operating Office before taking on the challenge of President and CEO for Northern Health. Ciro started his career as a Nurse and holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Nursing from the University of British Columbia and a Family Nurse Practitioner, Advanced Graduate Diploma from Athabasca University.

Ciro is keenly interested in health equity and improving health services in partnership with communities to reach and engage people, partnering with First Nations and Indigenous Peoples on a journey of reconciliation, and believes Northern Health to be a leading health services organization serving people in rural and remote communities.

Mark De Croos: Vice President, Financial and Corporate Services/Chief Financial Officer

Mark De Croos: Vice President, Financial and Corporate Services/Chief Financial Officer

Mark was appointed to his current position in July 2010, bringing proven success in strengthening and leading organizational finance and decision support. He oversees financial operations for Northern Health and is responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating the organization’s fiscal performance and ensuring its long-term financial sustainability.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta and is a certified general accountant.

David Williams: Vice President, Human Resources

David Williams: Vice President, Human Resources

David is a human resources executive with over 35 years of operational experience. He has a unique combination of strengths and a passion for leading innovative design and development of human resources services in complex organizations. David actively influences organizational change, developing and implementing innovative strategies in support of workforce sustainability.

David started his Human Resources career in 1985 with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. He is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) who holds a Master's of Business Administration from the University of Northern BC, and is also a member of the Health Human Resource Advisor Committee to HealthCareCAN.

Fraser Bell: Vice President, Planning, Quality and Information Management

Fraser Bell: Vice President, Planning, Quality and Information Management

Fraser is responsible for strategic and operational planning as well as quality monitoring and support of improvement processes, information management and information technology. During his more than 30 years in health service management, Fraser has held progressively more senior positions in health management consulting (PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM), government (Ontario Ministry of Health, Huron Perth District Health Council) and health operations.

Fraser holds a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) from McMaster University as well as a Doctorate in Health Sciences from the University of Northern British Columbia. Fraser’s PhD studies in evidence-based practice implementation were a natural progression of his longstanding interest in quality improvement in health services.

Aaron Bond: Vice President, Primary and Community Care

Aaron Bond: Vice President, Primary and Community Care

Bio still to be added.

Dr. Ronald Chapman: Vice President, Medicine

Dr. Ronald Chapman: Vice President, Medicine

Originally from South Africa, Dr. Chapman brings extensive experience in the health and public sectors. Beginning in 2007, he was Regional Director for the Northern Cancer Control Program, a dual appointment to Northern Health and the BC Cancer Agency. In September 2009, Dr. Chapman shared the role of Chief Medical Health Officer for Northern Health and in July 2011 became the sole holder of the title.

Dr. Chapman moved into his current role in March 2013. He has full registration as a Community Medicine Specialist with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, and has completed both the Licentiate of Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) and Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada Fellowship exams.

Nicole Cross: Vice President, Indigenous Health

Nicole Cross: Vice President, Indigenous Health

Nicole Cross, Noxs Ni’isYuus, belongs to the Killerwhale Clan and the House of Niisyuus and was born and raised in the Nisga’a community of Laxgalts’ap. Nicole has held various leadership positions supporting Indigenous Health which have included working as an Indigenous Patient Liaison at UHNBC, Health Director with Tsay keh Dene, ten years of supporting First Nations Health Authority in Northern BC in various roles and most recently, an assignment with the Ministry of Health as the Executive Director and Assistant Deputy Minister of Indigenous Health. The compliment of these experiences and relationships with community and health colleagues throughout the North are ones Nicole treasures and carries forward in her role with Northern Health.

Nicole graduated from Nisga’a Elementary Secondary School and received her Bachelors degree from the University of Victoria and a Master of Health Administration from the University of British Columbia.

Steve Raper: Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs

Steve Raper: Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs

Steve has more than 20 years experience leading teams in large organizations serving a vast region and diverse population. Areas of responsibility have and continue to include public and government relations; communications and external relations; community consultation and public engagement; issues management and crisis communications; marketing; and recruitment.

Additional experience includes executive leadership responsibilities such as strategic planning, budget management, and operational service delivery. Steve continues to lead the delivery of no-acuity patient transportation, health emergency planning and preparation, as well as stewarding new hospital construction capital giving campaigns across the region. Steve holds an MBA, as well as certifications in public participation and leadership.

He enjoys building high performing teams who are passionate about the work they do. Steve has a passion for staying active, travelling, and enjoys watching football (AKA soccer).

Angela De Smit: Vice President, Professional Practice / Chief of Nursing and Allied Health

Angela De Smit: Vice President, Professional Practice / Chief of Nursing and Allied Health

Angela returned to the North Peace in 1997. Her experience includes working as the NE Chief Operating Officer, Health Services Administrator for the North Peace, while working as the Operational Lead for acute care planning and transition during the development of the new Fort St. John Hospital and Peace Villa facility. She also held the positions of Director of Patient Care Services and Inpatient Unit Manager at the Fort St. John Hospital and Health Centre, and has interprovincial experience in nursing leadership positions in Alberta in the Peace River Hospital and Community Health Centre, and the High Level Hospital and Community Health Centre.  Angela has represented Northern Health on a number of provincial committees including the 2019 and 2023 NBA Bargaining Committees.

Angela graduated from the University of Alberta Hospital School of Nursing in 1983; from the Bachelor of Nursing program at Athabasca University in 2002; and from Royal Roads University with a Masters of Leadership in Health Care in 2015.

Angela has embraced the opportunities to lead and participate system changes in Northern rural and remote communities in the BC and AB health care system.

Debbie Strang: Interim Chief Operating Officer, Northwest Health Service Delivery Area

Debbie Strang: Interim Chief Operating Officer, Northwest Health Service Delivery Area

Debbie’s journey with Northern Health began in the Spring of 1992, even before the health services organization serving people in rural and remote communities had been formed. She is a retired registered nurse with a Masters in Health Studies. Debbie has spent the majority of her career in a variety of leadership roles, including Director for Rural NI MHAS, and Health Services Administrator (HSA) for the Robson Valley and Quesnel. Over the past three years, she has been supporting Northern Health in a variety of projects and leadership functions.

Debbie is passionate about developing leaders and strong teams. She was raised in Quesnel and continues to live and work there, enjoying the rural lifestyle.

Dr. Jong Kim: Chief Medical Health Officer

Dr. Jong Kim: Chief Medical Health Officer

Dr. Kim is a specialist in public health and preventive medicine. In his role as Chief Medical Health Officer, he advises the NH executive and the Board on issues of public health relevant to populations in northern BC. Dr. Kim holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) from McMaster University. He obtained his Medical Degree from Queen’s University and a Masters of Community Health Science from the University of Calgary.

He completed his residency training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the University of Calgary and is a Fellow of the Royal College in that specialty.

Tanis Hampe: Vice President, Population and Public Health

Tanis Hampe: Vice President, Population and Public Health

Tanis is a proud Northern BC resident who has worked in and with the health system for over 20 years. She started her career with Northern Health in research and evaluation and most recently held the role of Vice President, Pandemic Response where she provided leadership to the planning, operationalization and evaluation of the organization’s COVID-19 response. She joined Population and Public Health in January 2022.

Tanis holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) from the University of Calgary and a Master’s of Science, Public Health Sciences (Population Health) from the University of Alberta.

Jeff Hunter: Vice President, Digital Health and Chief Information Officer

Jeff Hunter: Vice President, Digital Health and Chief Information Officer

Jeff Hunter has a lifelong connection to Northern British Columbia and has been a key part of Northern Health for the past 20 years, serving in various roles. His diverse background, which includes founding a technology company and working internationally has provided him with a unique perspective in healthcare technology.

At Northern Health, Jeff's focus is on Digital Health, where he champions innovative solutions to advance healthcare delivery. His expertise and dedication have been crucial in driving many significant projects and provincial initiatives, greatly enhancing the experiences of healthcare professionals and patients. Beyond his professional commitments, Jeff harbours a deep passion for the outdoors, lifelong learning, and travelling. This reflects his strong commitment to personal development and exploration.

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Regional leaders

Sherri Tillotson: Senior Operations Officer, Prince George

Sherri Tillotson: Senior Operations Officer, Prince George

Sherri brings 16 years of progressive leadership in healthcare that includes a combination of research, evaluation, and operational management. For the past 2 years, Sherri has held the Senior Operations Officer role at UHNBC, which also includes having operational oversight for a number of NH-wide clinical programs.

Sherri is passionate about designing and delivering on health services that are inclusive of the populations that Northern Health serves. She holds a MSc in Psychology from the University of Northern British Columbia, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Neuroscience.

Greg Marr: Senior Operations Officer, NI Rural

Greg Marr: Senior Operations Officer, NI Rural

Greg is an practiced health leader with 15 years of experience. Since joining Northern Health in 2013, he has had roles in program design and implementation; operational leadership, as Regional Director of Medical Affairs; and for the last three years as the Senior Operations Officer for the Northern Interior Rural region. He worked previously at Island Health and the Ministry of Health.

Greg holds a Bachelor’s in Biology and Psychology with an honours in Neuroscience from the University of Victoria, a Master of Health Administration from the University of British Columbia, and a Certified Health Executive designation with the Canadian College of Health Leaders. His PhD interest at UNBC is focused on how effective leadership can better support teams and patient outcomes. He has taught in both the Northern Medical Program and the School of Human and Health Sciences at UNBC.

Kendra Kiss: Senior Operations Officer, NE Rural

Kendra Kiss: Senior Operations Officer, NE Rural

Kendra has over 20 years of experience working in health care in the North, with a variety of leadership roles for the past 15 years. She started her career with Northern Health in 2001 as a Public Health Nurse in Dawson Creek, before providing leadership to the Public Health Nursing Practice Development program in the Northeast in 2008, and in 2009 became the Manager, Community Care in the South Peace. In 2011, Kendra moved into the role of Director of Patient Care Services at the Dawson Creek & District Hospital, followed by Health Services Administrator for Dawson Creek in 2015.

Kendra holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University College of the Cariboo (now TRU) and a Masters of Health Administration with a major in Business from the University of Phoenix in Arizona.

Kendra is passionate about leading people and helping them develop and pursue roles in health care leadership. Having lived in Dawson Creek for 23 years, with three children born there, Kendra is happy to call the Peace Region her home and grateful to be able to represent the Northeast communities, helping to support the provision of high standards of care to the area’s residents.

Julia Pemberton: Senior Operations Officer, NW Rural

Julia Pemberton: Senior Operations Officer, NW Rural

Julia has worked for Northern Health since 2019, having started as the Manager of Long-Term Care at Acropolis Manor, before being appointed Health Services Administrator for Prince Rupert & Haida Gwaii in 2020. Previously she worked with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, supporting implementation of health services across multiple health systems in low- and middle-income countries. Additionally, Julia was the Manager in the Department of Surgery at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario for eight years where she supported the development and implementation of health care evidence into clinical practice. Julia has enjoyed leading the leadership team in Prince Rupert & Haida Gwaii and is very proud of the work they have accomplished together and the long-lasting relationships she has built.

Julia is a successful leader and academic with over 40 peer-reviewed publications and has received numerous awards for her success. She holds a master’s degree in clinical Epidemiology with a major in Health Services Evaluation. Her master’s thesis was an evaluation of the national trauma training system in Guyana, South America in partnership with the Guyanese Ministry of Health, the Canadian Association of General Surgeons, and the Canadian Network of International Surgery.

She is currently working to complete her PhD in Global Governance and Health Systems at McMaster University. Julia was the recipient of the Northern Health Charles Jago Award for Collaboration in 2023 and the President’s Award for Outstanding Service at McMaster University in 2013.

Julia looks forward to working with community partners and the NW Senior Leadership team to continue to build on the work they are doing to provide quality health services to their communities.

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