Dr. Saunders currently serves as the President and CEO of Navicent Health, a nonprofit corporation whose primary purpose is to coordinate its affiliated entities in their mission of providing a comprehensive range of high-quality reasonably priced healthcare services to Georgians. Dr. Saunders oversees the operations of The Medical Center, Navicent Health as well as Navicent Health Foundation; Rehabilitation Hospital, Navicent Health; Home Health, Navicent Health; Health Services, Navicent Health; Pine Pointe, Navicent Health; and Carlyle Place, Navicent Health. Dr. Saunders also serves as the President and CEO of The Medical Center, Navicent Health, the second largest hospital in the state and a tertiary regional teaching medical center, the state’s only nationally-verified Level I Trauma Center, a perinatal center, and twice designated Magnet® hospitals for nursing excellence. An Executive Cofounder of Stratus Healthcare, a collaborative partnership of hospitals both urban and rural, she remains focused on the “fee-for-value framework rather than the fee-for-service model” while ensuring right access, to the right care, at the right time at the right cost.
Dr. Saunders has more than 40 years of hospital administrative and clinical experience. Prior to her return to Georgia, she was the President and COO of Virtua Health, the largest health system in southern New Jersey, which operates four hospitals, two rehabilitation centers, senior services, home care, ambulatory and outpatient services. Prior to joining Virtua, she served on the Governor’s Georgia Cancer Coalition, which was created by Governor Roy Barnes to develop regional centers of excellence for cancer prevention, detection, treatment and research using funds from the tobacco settlement. Previously, Dr. Saunders served as chief operating officer for the Dekalb Medical Center in Decatur, GA. For the preceding 13 years, Dr. Saunders served as director of nursing resources for Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA. From 1974-1980, she held various roles at St. Barnabas in Livingston, NJ, including assistant vice president of nursing, director of critical care, in-service instructor and assistant head nurse. She started her career as a staff nurse in the intensive care unit of Riley Memorial Hospital in Meridian, MS.
Appointed as Dean’s Professor at the Mayers School of Business, she is a Distinguished Faculty at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. and an Associate Professor at Rutgers University, NJ, she also served as a faculty of the NCHL and GE Leadership Program at GE’s Jack Welch Learning Center in Crotonville, New York. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a board member of the American Heart Association, and a board member of the American Hospital Association, Institute for Diversity. Awarded the 2011 Woman of Distinction” by the New Jersey Go Red for Women of the American Heart Association, Dr. Saunders also received the American Red Cross’s 2012 Outstanding Citizenship and Good Neighbor Award.
Among Becker’s Hospital Review “130 Women Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know” for the third consecutive year, Saunders has been honored by the Georgia Diversity Council as one of Georgia’s “Most Powerful & Influential Women.” A Fellow of ACHE, Saunders serves on the board of directors for the American Hospital Association as the Vice Chair of the Institute for Diversity. She has also served on the board of the American Heart Association. The 2014 Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals CEO of the Year, Saunders has also been included as one of Georgia Trend’s “100 Most Influential Georgians” and was named The (Macon) Telegraph’s 2014 “Person of the Year.” She currently serves as an Executive with the Fierce Healthcare CEO Advisory Board and as a frequent expert for Becker’s Hospital Review and Healthcare Leaders national media roundtables.