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Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods Earns Post Foundation Luminary Status






COURTESY OF ATRIUM HEALTH
Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods is the Charlotte Post Foundation’s 2022 luminary.

He brings a medical school to Charlotte, launched an innovation district where historic Brooklyn was flattened, and forms one of the nation’s largest healthcare organizations.

Eugene Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health, is known for his inspirational leadership and focus on eliminating health disparities and promoting upward mobility. The 2020 Charlotte Post Foundation Luminary Award recipient will be honored Oct. 8 at the 25th Annual Post Best Banquet.

“Gene Woods has earned a reputation for reducing disparities and enabling communities to achieve the highest standard of health,” said Gerald Johnson, president of the Post Foundation and publisher of the Charlotte Post. “Over a long period, he has helped others achieve equal access, equity and inclusion in the institutions that influence our lives.”

Woods said he is most proud of Atrium Health’s mission to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing for all. “It’s not about me,” he said, “it’s about the people I’ve had the privilege of working with and the communities we serve.”
The chairman of Woods’ executive committee calls him a transformational leader.

“One of the things I appreciate most about him is his willingness to listen to feedback and suggestions,” said Angie Vincent-Hamacher, chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority Board of Commissioners and partner. of the law firm Robinson Bradshaw. “It helps everyone to seize the opportunity and do their best.”

Woods’ authenticity impresses Michael Lamach, chairman of the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council and former executive chairman and CEO of Trane Technologies.

“The old adage ‘some kind of friend a friend would like to have’ picks up Gene,” Lamach said, “and I feel blessed to consider him a dear friend.”

Like many of his friends, Woods said, Lamach wants to lift up the most vulnerable, and that aligns with Atrium Health’s initiatives.

“We have made significant investments in affordable housing and food shortage programs,” Woods said. Atrium Health is also working with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Johnson C. Smith University to expose young people “to the wonderful opportunities in healthcare, whether it’s life sciences or innovation.” .

“I am blessed to call Gene a mentor and a friend,” said Kieth Cockrell, President of Bank of America Charlotte. “He has an infectious smile and a very positive attitude. People are running towards it. He surrounds himself with truly exceptional people.

Before taking the Atrium Health job six years ago, Woods said, he shared with investigators his belief that the health care provider had to carve out a very different future for itself. An important step was forging a partnership to create a Wake Forest School of Medicine campus in Charlotte. Executives from Atrium Health and Wake Forest University “realized we were looking to do something magical,” he said.

Leaders of the effort decided to locate the medical school on 20 acres where Brooklyn’s historic African-American neighborhood was located before urban renewal. Next, they plan to anchor an innovation district called “The Pearl,” which will include education, retail, apartments, a hotel, and open community space. It will accommodate entrepreneurial activity and stimulate research and development.

“It’s an opportunity to create some healing,” Woods said. “We listen to the community and that community is going to be enhanced by what we do.”

There is a strong commitment to supplier diversity and inclusion for the construction of The Pearl.

“Ultimately, good jobs and good opportunities help drive economic mobility for vulnerable communities,” Woods said.

This spring, Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health announced plans to combine and form a healthcare footprint in Illinois, Wisconsin, the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama. With Charlotte as its headquarters, the new organization will serve 5.5 million patients and employ more than 7,600 physicians.

“We are in talks to build a national system with Attorney Aurora,” Woods said. “It takes a decade to build and get it right.”


At 58, Woods plans to stay on the job indefinitely.

“I don’t think there’s a better platform to reinvent healthcare, promote education, and drive equity than Atrium Health,” he said.

The son of a career black navy father and a Spanish mother, Woods has two adult sons. He spends his free time with his guitar and for decades has been writing original jazz, blues and rock tunes. He recently recorded a compact disc.

The lyrics of his compositions are a kind of diary for him, reflecting his feelings and attitudes as he progressed in his career. Listening to his songs, he says to himself: “I live my goal.

I tell young people, ‘find your passion’. If you know what your passion is, you can outdo anyone. There is a good chance that you will succeed.