Senior Executive Team



Russell F. Cox assumed his current position on Jan. 1, 2017. He joined Norton Healthcare in September 2000 as vice president of support services. He was appointed senior vice president, operations and development, in October 2002; executive vice president in September 2004; and executive vice president and chief operating officer in September 2005.

Cox has more than 20 years of executive experience in health care. Before joining Norton Healthcare, he spent six years as executive director of resource operations at Caritas Health Services in Louisville. Before that, he worked for Humana Inc., Galen Healthcare and Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., in various executive roles, including human resources, development and acquisitions, and operations support.

Cox, a lifelong resident of Louisville, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Louisville’s College of Education and Human Development. He also attended the Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management in Nashville, Tennessee, and completed the requirements for certification from its Executive Development Institute.

Cox is active in the community by serving on various nonprofit and volunteer boards. He currently serves on the Bellarmine University Board of Trustees and is a member of its Executive Committee; Kentucky Chamber Board of Trustees; Greater Louisville, Inc. Board of Trustees; and WDRB Editorial Board. He previously served on the Downtown Development Corporation Board as treasurer and member of its Executive Committee; Kentucky Country Day School Board of Trustees as board chair and member of its Executive Committee; and as past chair of the Leadership Louisville Foundation Board.



Michael W. Gough was named executive vice president and chief operating officer on Oct. 30, 2017, after serving as executive vice president since Jan. 1, 2017. Before that, he served as system senior vice president of operations and chief financial officer since September 2003 and as vice president of finance since July 2000. Gough was chief financial officer at Caritas Health Services in Louisville from December 1994 to July 2000. From 1983 to 1994, he worked for Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. and its predecessors, Galen Healthcare and Humana Inc.; as vice president and chief financial officer for Audubon Regional Medical Center; chief financial officer for Medical Center Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama; assistant executive director of finance for Audubon Regional Medical Center; assistant executive director of finance at University of Louisville Hospital; and financial management specialist for McFarland Hospital in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Gough earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and business administration from Bellarmine University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Louisville. He currently serves on the boards of directors of the Community Foundation of Louisville and OneWest. He is a past member of several other community boards. In 2009, Gough was selected by Business First as “CFO of the Year.” He is a member of the Bellarmine University Gallery of Distinguished Graduates.



Dana Allen joined Norton Healthcare in 2008 as system vice president of marketing and was named to her current role in 2018. She has direct responsibility for key branding initiatives for Norton Healthcare, as well as public relations and our internal communications strategy. She oversees the Marketing and Communications Department, which is responsible for physician, children’s and system marketing; creative services; digital marketing, including web, mobile and social media; public and media relations; and system internal communications.

Allen began her career at Brown-Forman Corp., in Louisville, gaining valuable experience in sales, finance and management before spending the majority of her 20-plus-year career there in marketing.

A Louisville native, Allen attended the University of Mississippi and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Louisville and a Master of Business Administration degree with a focus in marketing from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Her leadership development activities include the Brown-Forman Leaders Camp, Bingham Fellows, Leadership Louisville and Darden Leadership, University of Virginia. She is an alumna and past board member of Presentation Academy, and she currently serves on the board of the Nativity Academy in Louisville.



Matthew P. Ayers was named to his current role on Feb. 7, 2014, after serving as system vice president, surgical and orthopedic services, for Norton Healthcare. Ayers previously served in various roles over 10 years with Norton Medical Group, where he gained experience in strategic planning, financial management, compliance and licensure, physician recruitment, contract negotiation and management, construction project oversight and the daily operations of physician practices. In his current role, Ayers is responsible for providing operational leadership for Norton Hospital, Norton Healthcare’s original hospital.

A native of Evansville, Indiana, Ayers earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health care administration from Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Indiana University, Bloomington.



Before joining Norton Healthcare, Robert B. Azar was vice president and general counsel for Alegent Health in Omaha, Nebraska, the largest health care system and largest private employer in the state. Azar’s overall responsibilities included the legal and regulatory affairs of the organization and its affiliates, including compliance, governance, managed care, risk financing, risk management and legal services. Before Alegent Health, Azar was vice president and general counsel for Immanuel Healthcare Systems in Omaha, Nebraska, where he performed similar responsibilities while also playing a key role in the merger of Immanuel and Bergan Mercy Health System, which became Alegent Health.

Azar has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. He earned law and Master of Health Administration degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up in the Los Angeles area.



Mary Jo Bean joined Norton Healthcare in August 1999. She built the strategic and business planning department from the ground up and is responsible for all strategic planning projects, including the systemwide strategic plan, certificate of need applications, service line strategic and capital planning, external data surveys, management engineering and productivity reporting, the decision support system and the master customer information file, which consolidates all internal data sources and cross references for marketing and downstream reporting. In addition, her department is responsible for all business transaction work for Norton Healthcare, including potential joint venture relationships, acquisitions and divestitures.

Prior to joining Norton Healthcare, Bean worked for Humana in the area of venture capital. She also worked with two health care-related startup ventures, including a physician service organization, MTS Inc., and a physician credentialing company, Aperture Credentialing Inc., from 1997 to 1999. Before that, she worked for United Healthcare and a startup physician practice management company, HealthSpring, Reston, Virginia, where she was involved in company organization, accounting systems setup and administration, and several developmental activities. Bean spent a year working on the integration of HealthSpring as well as MetraHealth (an organization formed from the merger of MetLife and Travelers Health Insurance companies). She began her career in health care in 1989 at Humana Inc. in Louisville, working in strategic planning and later in mergers and acquisitions.

Bean earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Louisville. She worked for four years in public accounting with Ernst & Whinney and obtained her CPA license while working there.



Laura Chandler was named to her current role in November 2016. In that role, she serves as liaison to the Norton Healthcare Board of Trustees and is responsible for the administration of our executive offices. She also works closely with the executive team in implementing the organization’s strategic initiatives and representing the organization in the community. She joined Norton Healthcare in 2012 as system director, special projects. Her previous experience includes serving as vice president of the Kentucky State Fair Board; director of administration, Office of the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator; policy advisor, Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Public Protection; and associate general counsel, Rawlings and Associates PLLC.

Chandler has a law degree from Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville and is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association.



Jon D. Cooper began his current role on Nov. 1, 2013, after nearly 10 years with Norton Healthcare. He previously served as vice president, operations, at Norton Audubon Hospital, and most recently held that role at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

Cooper also has held leadership roles in surgical and orthopedic services, overseeing major contract negotiations and service innovations for 66 operating rooms across the system.

Cooper holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Indiana University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Toledo in Ohio. He is a past recipient of Norton Healthcare’s Good Samaritan Award and has been recognized as a Business First Partner in Health Care. He is a longtime volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and a graduate of Leadership Louisville.



Joseph M. Flynn, D.O., was named to his current position on Dec. 15, 2017, after serving as executive director and physician-in-chief for Norton Cancer Institute since October 2015. Prior to that he served at The Ohio State University, Columbus, where he held several positions including co-director, division of hematology; associate physician in chief, Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute; medical director, James Cancer Network; and associate professor of medicine of the university’s College of Public Health.

Dr. Flynn earned his undergraduate degree from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, and a master of public health degree from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland. He earned his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Pennsylvania. Dr. Flynn completed his fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Bethesda. He is board certified in medical oncology and he is a fellow of the American College of Physicians. He has been active in community education on a wide variety of cancer-related topics and has contributed to more than 50 medical publications.



Vanessa L. Garrett was named to her current position on Sept. 1, 2018. In this role, Garrett is responsible for the oversight and administration of Norton Healthcare’s compliance and internal audit programs. She oversees the organization’s activities to ensure that all Norton Healthcare business is conducted in accordance with state and federal laws governing regulatory compliance and data privacy and security.

Garrett joined Norton Healthcare as research legal counsel in 2013 and was promoted to senior research legal counsel in 2017. Her previous experience includes positions with KentuckyOne Health and the University of Louisville. She also worked for the Department of Justice and in private practice in Washington, D.C.

Garrett earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California at Davis. She is a member of the California, District of Columbia and Kentucky bars.



Steven T. Hester, M.D., MBA, was promoted to his current position in January 2017 after serving as system senior vice president and chief medical officer since 2008. Prior to that he served as vice president, medical affairs, and chief medical information officer from 2006 until 2008. He joined Norton Healthcare in 2004 as chief medical information officer. He has served Norton Healthcare in multiple medical staff positions, including president of the medical staff for a Norton Healthcare facility and representative on the System Medical Executive Committee.

Prior to joining Norton Healthcare, Dr. Hester practiced emergency medicine full time, serving as regional medical director for Kentuckiana Emergency Physicians. During his tenure there, Dr. Hester worked to improve quality and volume with significant success while redefining multiple processes within the organization.

Dr. Hester holds bachelor’s and medical degrees from the University of Louisville and a Master of Business Administration degree from Bellarmine University in Louisville. He completed his residency training in internal medicine and pediatrics at the UofL School of Medicine.

Dr. Hester is a lifelong resident of Louisville and serves on the board of directors of the Christian Academy School System and Leadership Louisville. He also serves on multiple national committees and boards focused on improving the delivery of health care for patients.



Charlotte Ipsan was named chief administrative officer of Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital in May 2012, leading the creation of the first women’s and children’s hospital in the Louisville area. She has more than 30 years’ experience in maternal/child and pediatric health care. Ipsan worked in several roles at Norton Children’s Hospital, Norton Audubon Hospital and Norton Suburban Hospital, including staff nurse; nurse manager, neonatal intensive care unit; and director, women’s services. In November 2009 she was named vice president of Norton Children’s Medical Center, the first pediatric outpatient center of its type in Kentucky. In January 2011, she was promoted to system vice president of pediatric services for Norton Healthcare/Norton Children’s Hospital.

Ipsan has served as the American Hospital Association’s representative to the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Hospital Care and on the Governing Council of the Section for Maternal and Child Health. She was executive chair for the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Kentuckiana chapter in 2014 and has served on Louisville’s Perinatal and Infant Health Network Advisory Committee. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Ipsan also advocates for pediatric and women’s health across the United States.

Ipsan has served as course director of the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Tract at the University of Louisville Graduate School of Nursing, and as manager of the Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Team for the university’s department of pediatrics. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Indiana University, Bloomington, a master’s degree in nursing/neonatal nurse practitioner tract from the University of Louisville and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Rush University in Chicago. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

In 2011, Ipsan was named the “University of Louisville School of Nursing’s Alumni of the Year” and in 2014 was recognized for being among the “Top 40 University of Louisville School of Nursing Outstanding Alumni.” She also is a proud member of the Kentucky Leadership Class of 2011. In May 2013 she was named the “Most Admired Woman in Healthcare” by Today’s Woman magazine.



Adam Kempf joined Norton Healthcare in 2001 after working in public accounting for six years. He began his career at Norton Healthcare as senior internal auditor and served in multiple finance roles prior to his current role. Kempf is responsible for Norton Healthcare’s financial operations, including operating and capital budgets, accounting systems, audits and long-term financial and capital planning.

A native of Southern Indiana, Kempf earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is a certified public accountant, a graduate of the Ignite Louisville and Leadership Louisville programs, and is actively involved with the Kentucky chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association. He was recognized by Business First as a Best in Finance honoree and currently serves on the board of directors for Our Lady of Providence High School in Clarksville, Indiana, and Rauch Foundation, New Albany, Indiana.



Riggs Lewis joined Norton Healthcare in November 2015. As an attorney, former gubernatorial policy adviser and lobbyist, Lewis has extensive experience in health care policy and government relations.

He most recently served as a founding partner with the Rotunda Group, a government relations firm he began 15 years ago. Rotunda represents Kentucky’s leading employers. Prior to that, Lewis was a special adviser to former Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher and director of government affairs for Greater Louisville Inc.

He has been a consultant for congressional, state and local elections; served on the advance team for the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; and was the campaign manager for the merger of Louisville and Jefferson County’s governments. Lewis is a member of the Kentucky and Louisville Bar associations. A Louisville native, he is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law.



Gladys Lopez joined Norton Healthcare on June 11, 2018, as senior vice president and chief human resources officer. In this role, Lopez oversees all human resources activities for the Norton Healthcare system, including operations, compensation and benefits, talent acquisition, and workforce development.

An attorney and human resources executive, she has nearly 20 years of experience in human resources management, labor relations, health care, public administration and nonprofit management. Previous positions include chief human resources officer, Cook County Health and Hospitals System; director of human resources, Provident Hospital of Cook County; and senior director, employee services and workforce development, Heartland Alliance; all in Chicago, Illinois.

Lopez earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her doctorate in law from DePaul University College of Law, Chicago. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.



Lynnie Meyer, Ed.D., R.N., CFRE, oversees Norton Healthcare’s ambassadors, volunteer programs and services. As chief development officer, a position she has held since 2004, she leads the operations of the Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Norton Healthcare Foundation. The foundations support the needs of Norton Children’s Hospital and the adult-service hospitals of Norton Healthcare. Under her leadership, in 2017 the foundations generated more than $20 million in support of Norton Healthcare’s mission.

Prior to joining Norton Healthcare, Meyer served as president and CEO of The Center for Women and Families in Louisville, where she successfully led a $12.5 million fundraising campaign. While in this role, the center won the Annie E. Casey Foundation Families Count Award and secured a prestigious Kresge Foundation Challenge grant. Meyer has held positions with Caritas Health Services, University of Louisville Hospital, Caretenders and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Meyer holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in nursing administration from Bellarmine University in Louisville. She also holds a doctorate in leadership education from Spalding University. She is a graduate of Leadership Louisville, Bingham Fellows and Leadership Kentucky, and is a certified fundraising professional by CFRE International.

In 2008, Meyer was selected as one of 20 nurses in the nation to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows Program, an advanced leadership experience for nurses in senior executive roles. She has been inducted into the Bellarmine University Gallery of Distinguished Graduates, named a Business First “Forty Under 40” honoree and named by the Shakertown Roundtable as one of 40 Kentucky Leaders for the New Century. Meyer has received numerous awards, including the Center for Nonprofit Excellence Art of Leadership Award, the National Conference for Community and Justice Humanitarian Award and the Presentation Academy Tower Award.



The Rev. Ronald C. Oliver, Ph.D., BCC, has served in his current role since November 2009. He began his career with Norton Healthcare as a chaplain resident in 1989 and became a staff chaplain for the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital in 1992. He was named director of Norton Healthcare’s pastoral care department in 2002 and subsequently was promoted to division director, then associate vice president of the department.

Oliver holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. His doctoral dissertation, “Effects of an Acute Traumatic Crisis on Faith,” is the basis for the Children’s Hospital Bereavement Intervention Program. He is a frequent speaker on grief, theodicy and self-care and has published several peer-reviewed articles.

Oliver is endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He is a board-certified chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains and serves on the group’s board of directors.

Emmett C. Ramser



Emmett C. Ramser, Pharm.D., was named to his current role in May 2018 after 25 years with Norton Healthcare. As chief administrative officer he oversees all facets of Norton Children’s Hospital’s operations.

Ramser joined the organization in 1993 as a clinical pharmacist. Since then, he’s held numerous positions, including director of pharmacy and vice president of operations for Norton Children’s Hospital. Most recently, he served as system vice president of facilities management for Norton Healthcare and oversaw all real estate, construction, energy and security operations.

Ramser earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Kentucky, Lexington.



Steve L. Ready joined Norton Healthcare in September 1998 as manager, end user computing, Information Services. He was promoted to director, IS customer service; then division director, enterprise services; and associate vice president, enterprise services, before advancing to his current position.

Ready is responsible for IS system infrastructure, IS support for clinical and business applications, IS strategic planning and related areas. His contributions during his career with Norton Healthcare have included many system implementations, including the Epic electronic medical records system and the robust IS service and support model in place today.

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Ready earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion. He is a certified Microsoft systems engineer.



Andrew Strausbaugh began his current role in November 2015 after serving as vice president of operations and finance for the hospital since 2006. As the third employee hired for Norton Brownsboro Hospital while it was still in its planning phases, he had the opportunity to help design and develop operations for the new facility. Strausbaugh has more than 20 years of experience in the health care field. He joined Norton Healthcare in May 2004 as a division director of reimbursement. Prior to that, he worked for Deaconess Health System in Evansville, Indiana, and The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana, and a Master of Health Administration degree from Indiana University, Indianapolis.



Scott Watkins began his current role in January 2017 after serving as system vice president, operations, since April 2004. Prior to that, he served in operational roles at Norton Audubon Hospital and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

Watkins began his professional career in 1992 with Eskew & Gresham in Louisville. After earning his certified public accountant (CPA) designation in 1995, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to begin his health care career with Columbia/HCA, then the largest hospital company in the United States.

In 1997, Watkins returned to Louisville to work for Audubon Hospital. A year later, Norton Healthcare bought the hospital from Columbia/HCA, and he accepted a position with Norton Healthcare. He has had the opportunity to work at the facility level and system level during his time at Norton Healthcare. He enjoys getting to make a difference in his hometown and is extremely grateful to be part of the Norton Healthcare family.

Watkins holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from the University of Louisville and a Master of Business Administration degree from Bellarmine University in Louisville. He is licensed as a CPA in Kentucky.

Watkins, who is a native of Oldham County, Kentucky, and his wife, Pam, have three children, Madison, Jackson and Luke. He serves as a board member for Christian Academy of Louisville and the Kentucky Derby Festival and is an elder at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville.



Tracy Williams began her current role in 2019, focusing on the development of nursing leadership and the educational and developmental needs for the entire organization through Norton University. She previously served as senior vice president and chief nursing officer since 2006, overseeing nursing functions for Norton Healthcare’s adult-service hospitals, Norton Immediate Care Centers and physician practices. She was instrumental in developing the Norton Healthcare Institute for Nursing and in advancing the overall development of nursing staff and leadership throughout the organization.

A native of Virginia, Williams began her career in the pediatric intensive care unit of Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia. Her professional background also includes serving as nurse administrator at HCA Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. She then served 15 years as vice president and senior nurse executive for Baptist Health in Jacksonville, Florida, before joining Norton Healthcare.

Williams earned a bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, a master’s degree in nursing from Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and a doctorate in nursing practice, specializing in executive leadership, from Rush University in Chicago, Illinois.

She was recognized as a Business First Partner in Health Care from 2007 through 2012. In 2011, she received HCPro’s prestigious Nursing Image Award for her action-oriented leadership in implementing a culture centered on patients and their families. The Florida Nurses Association named Williams District II Nurse Administrator of the Year in 1996 and one of District II’s 100 best nurses in 2000. In 2018, she was named a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She is active in the American Organization of Nurse Executives, American College of Healthcare Executives, National League for Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Williams is a frequent national speaker on nursing, health care, innovation and leadership topics. She is a 1994 graduate of Leadership Louisville and has served on the boards of the Fund for the Arts and the Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies in Louisville.



Douglas A. Winkelhake began his current role in January 2017. Prior to that, he served as division president, Adult Services, and chief executive, Norton Neuroscience Institute, since 2012; president of Norton Brownsboro Hospital since July 2006; and interim executive director of Norton Neuroscience Institute since 2010. Winkelhake was responsible for the planning, design, construction and successful opening of Norton Brownsboro Hospital in August 2009.

Since joining Norton Healthcare in 1997, Winkelhake also served as vice president of the orthopedics/neurology/spine service line, associate vice president of operations for Norton Hospital and assistant administrator of finance and operations for Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Before coming to Norton Healthcare, Winkelhake worked as a long-term care administrator and administrator at a regional mental health and mental rehabilitation service provider.

Winkelhake is a native of Palatine, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in political science and history from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kentucky, Lexington.

Winkelhake is a fellow of the Healthcare Advisory Board and is a member of Mensa International. He was chosen as a Business First “Forty Under 40” honoree in 2007. In 2009, Winkelhake was honored as a Modern Healthcare “Up and Comer” and received the American College of Healthcare Executives Regents Award. Winkelhake serves on the boards of the Kentucky Hospital Association and Passport Health Plan.

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