The Anthem Leadership Team
Scott Watson, Co-Founder, Principal & Consultant
Scott has served clients in the executive search industry for over 30 years. Known for his candor and clarity of focus, our clients appreciate Scott’s insights married with his sense of humor and resolute attention to mission success. Scott brings a unique blend of skills to senior level searches he leads or co-leads. An indicator of success and appreciation relative to client experience and deliverables in any business relationship is repeat business —how many times you are invited back to lead engagements for the same client. Scott has clients for whom he has led over 15 unique searches over a 3-year period for the same organization. He has orchestrated initiatives for land grant institutions, and higher education organizations with and without academic health sciences components.
Beyond higher education institutions, Scott’s three decades of executive search includes serving the leadership needs of hospital/health systems, global software and technology companies, private equity enterprises, MCO’s, insurance companies, service and manufacturing organizations with global footprints, and others. He has placed executives in key mission critical roles across the ‘C-Suite’ and board room, including top leaders of diversity, and brings a “fit” and ROI perspective to institutions and organizations seeking to establish a competitive advantage by securing superior human capital.
Outside of his search responsibilities and over the past 20 years, Scott enjoys sports car racing and high performance driving instruction.
Michael Ballew, M.A, Co-Founder, Principal & Consultant
Michael, a registered Native American and member of the Echota Cherokee Tribe, serves as the firm’s chief diversity, inclusion, equity and compliance officer, as well as search committee facilitator. Michael has served clients in the executive search industry for over 14 years. Known for his abilities as a skilled leader and facilitator, our clients and search committees appreciate Michael’s hands-on approach, active partnership and intuitive leadership throughout the search process.
Michael has conducted over 500 mid and senior level assignments in the executive search industry, and has facilitated hundreds of search committees. During his time in Corporate America, Michael held responsibility for over 4800 searches at the service, professional, executive and board levels. He was also responsible for the evaluation and selection of executive search firms.
An Industrial Psychologist by training, he focuses on the details of everything from the needs of the organization to the unique personalities of the key players involved in the hiring decision. His customization of each search experience is paramount to bringing about positive outcomes for the client and search committee, and a positive experience for the candidate. Michael is gifted with the ability to bring even the most divided committees to consensus.
Prior to his life in the executive search industry, Michael spent 20+ years in senior-level management with expertise in human resources management, counseling, training, operations, facilitation, strategic planning, project management, workplace diversity, and regulatory/compliance. His gift for evaluating, managing and motivating fellow executives, combined with a passion for the positive client and candidate experience is a distinct advantage and asset to client organizations.
With a strong focus on customer service, quality, search management, and facilitation, Michael brings an exemplary track record of 99% success in search engagements across all business sectors. Having served as a former corporate EEO/AA officer, and now as the firm’s diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, Michael is committed to bringing clients a diverse slate of qualified candidates – 100% of the time.
For our Higher Education Practice, Michael has orchestrated initiatives – at all professional and management levels – for land grant institutions, historically black colleges and universities, and higher education organizations with and without academic health sciences components. He has worked with numerous Federal Contractors and other organizations with both customary and unique compliance policies/requirements. For other business sectors, he has served the leadership needs of hospital/health systems, global software and technology companies, oil and gas companies, MCO’s, insurance companies, service and manufacturing organizations, hospitality organizations, aerospace companies, chambers and civic organizations, legal firms, private equity companies, and others – placing executives in key mission critical roles across management and the ‘C-Suite’.
Outside of work, Michael is an established artist and outdoor enthusiast. He gives back to the community by directing children and adolescent camps, and serves as a board member on an arts foundation board.
Mike “JR” Wheless, Co-Founder, Principal & Consultant
Mike “JR” Wheless has conducted over 500 assignments for boards of directors, CEOs, Chancellors and Presidents, and all levels of executives and management on behalf of organizations ranging from small operations to global top 10 Fortune $100 billion plus enterprises – including working with and recruiting some of the nation’s most influential leadership. Mr. Wheless has served institutions and organizations across a broad range of geographies and sectors in higher education, technology, healthcare, energy, financial services, law, insurance, hospitality and food services, retail, CPG, EPC, manufacturing, aerospace, mining, construction and real estate.
Mr. Wheless and his partners have served a portfolio of clients with board of directors search and executive assignments that includes the American Council on Education, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Microsoft Corporation, Duke University, Texas Association of Business/Texas State Chamber, RigNet Inc., Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, The University of Texas, Fluor Corporation, CSG International, UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, MarkWest Energy Partners, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Ralph Lauren, Sysco Foods Corporation, BBVA Compass Bank, Halliburton, United Parcel Services (UPS), Quanex Building Products, The Gallup Organization, Inc., Murphy Oil, Lowe Enterprises/Destination Hotels and Resorts, DaVita Labs Inc., ITT Corporation, the Texas Medical Center Corporation, and The Home Depot.
Prior to his career in consultancy, Mr. Wheless served our country in the United States Air Force Space Command. In this capacity he served North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Mr. Wheless is serves of the board of directors of his children’s K-12 – Northland Christian School, PEI Energy, and a foundation.
Florene Stawowy, Senior Client Service Partner
Florene has been in executive search for over 20 years. She has worked with our consultants for more than 15 years and is a core member of the higher education and academic health practice. Over the last two decades, Florene has developed deep expertise in senior‐level search, having been charged with numerous executive leadership transitions with a particular emphasis on higher education and academic health search.
Florene has served clients across the United States and internationally. Her experience spans throughout Association of American Universities and public research universities, regional and state colleges, private liberal arts institutions, and health sciences organizations. Her search work encompasses the entire span of leadership in higher education and health sciences from chancellor, president, provost, vice chancellors, EVP/SVP/VP’s, deans, to many other roles such as CEO, COO, CNO, CFO.
Florene ensures the highest quality service to clients while seamlessly directing search assignments. Florene possess a keen eye for talent and keeps her pulse on the national talent pool. She is passionate about connecting hiring organizations with underrepresented minority and female executive talent.
Sarah Meffert, Research & Search Operations
Sarah’s brings an extensive background in customer service, research and work-flow, allowing her to combine both interpersonal and analytical skills to coordinate the delivery of successful searches from beginning to end. Sarah’s strengths in communication, customer service, and project management serve to ensure positive outcomes and a positive experience to our clients and candidates.
Prior to joining the firm, Sarah was a recognized industry leader in natural history travel sales and customer service. She assumed the initiative of reformatting the first successful multi-dimensional natural history educational workshop held in the Peruvian Amazon to a student format and personally guided the first two of these groundbreaking programs to the rainforest. This program has expanded to ongoing travel by high schools and colleges throughout the U.S. with similar models adapted for numerous countries abroad.
Mundi Wheless, Operations and Finance
Mundi Wheless brings a wealth of knowledge in recruiting, human capital and finance, including tenure with another nationwide executive search firm before joining Anthem Executive.
Prior to entering the executive search industry, Mundi had a successful and progressive career in Human Resources with Southwest Airlines Corporation, KPMG (a Fortune Magazine Top 100 employer), and a global financial services company. She also served in Customer Relations for Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation.
Mundi has served a wide range of executive search clients in higher education, healthcare, not-for-profits, foundations and others.
Mundi’s second job is mom to two daughters. She enjoys travel with family and community service.
Other Team Members
We utilize a team approach to our searches. Others involved will include our team of administrative and operations professionals, researchers, and various trusted advisors with extensive experience in the higher education search industry and extensive years of leadership within higher education and other business/industry sectors.
The Anthem Executive Advisory Board
John M. Rudley, Ed.D, Search Executive Advisor & Subject Matter Expert
John is a true subject matter expert in higher education. He has held numerous leadership positions in higher education, including vice chancellor for business and finance for a 46 institution university system, university president, and interim chancellor of a premier public metropolitan R1 research and teaching institution. Most recently, he served as President of Texas Southern University (TSU), one of the largest public Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the nation. During his nearly eight-year tenure as President, he instituted substantive and far-reaching changes via administrative, academic, student and outreach initiatives.
In addition to his tenure as a university executive, John served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, in responding to the requirements of the Chief Financial Officer Act of 1990. As a licensed Certified Public Accountant, he acquired his public accounting experience from Coopers and Lybrand in Los Angeles and Seattle.
John currently consults and serves higher education clients across the nation.
Ricardo Azziz, MD, MPH, MBA, Consultant & Subject Matter Expert – Academic Medicine & Healthcare
Ricardo is recognized as a thought leader in change management in academia, with a particular focus on mergers and consolidations, and diversity and inclusion in higher education and healthcare.
Ricardo is the former Chief Officer for Academic Health and Hospital Affairs at the State University of New York System (SUNY), the largest academic system in the country. While at SUNY, Ricardo was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to lead the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute.
Ricardo served the dual role of founding President of what is now Augusta University (overseeing the merger of Georgia Health Sciences University and Augusta State University) and as Chief Executive Officer of its health system. Other roles in academic medicine include department chair at Cedar Sinai, Assistant Dean at UCLA, and various roles in academic medicine at UAB.
A Reproductive Endocrinologist, Ricardo completed his fellowship training at Johns Hopkins, and his OB/GYN residency at Georgetown. He holds a medical degree from Penn State and an MBA and MPH both from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). A native of Uruguay, he received his undergraduate education at the University of Puerto Rico. He is a fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Ricardo has enjoyed a successful career as a clinician, investigator, teacher, mentor and as a leader. Having served on NIH study sections, FDA panels, state oversight commissions and others, he has a long history of public service. Ricardo currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of ASRM. He was the founding Executive Director of the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society. The author of more than 500 publications, Ricardo is a leading authority on PCOS and androgen excess disorders.
Rick Soria, Higher Education Consultant & Subject Matter Expert
Rick has over 19 years of extensive Higher Education experience. Most recently, he has been consulting with Pennsylvania colleges in areas of Program Exploration, Program Development, Enrollment Management, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Workforce Development,
He began his career as an Indiana licensed funeral director and embalmer managing funeral homes and cemeteries for both family-owned and corporate owned businesses. In 2002, Rick was selected out of Indiana licensed funeral directors to develop and create the first Mortuary Science program at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana – East Chicago.
In 2007, he was tapped to serve as a regional Dean overseeing seven programs at Ivy Tech’s four campuses. In 2012, he was selected to serve as Vice Chancellor of Ivy Tech’s Michigan City campus. And, in 2015 he became president of the Michigan City campus.
In 2016, Rick was recruited to by Florida’s Miami Dade College. He served as the Wolfson campus president where he served over 30,000 students from over 190 countries, speaking over 90 languages. He managed a 40 million budget and an additional $12 million in grant dollars.
Rick is a 1994 graduate of Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, Indiana earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, a 1995 graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago earning a degree in Mortuary Science and Funeral Service, and a 2007 graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law, Valparaiso, Indiana earning a Juris Doctor.
Dan McCoy, MD, Consultant & Subject Matter Expert
Before returning to strategy development consulting, recruiting and team building on behalf of clients, Dr. Dan McCoy had a highly effective tenure as President (CEO) of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX). As a growth, strategy, team building and organizational design expert, Dr. McCoy led Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas through a major financial turnaround, resulting in one of the largest turnarounds in the history of U.S. insurance companies. Dr. McCoy recruited and reorganized sales and marketing teams, created the first-ever energy vertical, oversaw the rollout of the Latino membership strategy, crafted the first investment strategy in vertical infrastructure of healthcare providers, reorganized market regions, updated government relations in Austin, led sales team in regaining the Employee Retirement System as a client (480,000-member addition), oversaw creation of largest HMO network in Texas state’s history, and more.
Prior to being named as the BCBSTX President, Dr. McCoy served as the Senior Vice President, Market Strategy and Chief Medical Officer for BCBSTX where he managed overall market strategy in multiple regions and the turnaround of retail HMO product line. In this role, Dr. McCoy grew Texas membership through the creation of innovative and customized networks and was instrumental in BCBSTX’s growth and Latino strategies and its efforts to lower the costs of care. Before BCBSTX, Dr. McCoy was managing partner at Texas Dermatology Associates. He also served as medical director of the Melanoma Screening Clinic at Sammons Cancer Center and Baylor University Medical Center’s Outpatient Cancer Center.
Dan’s consulting and recruitment expertise originates through years of engaging in projects with the nation’s largest Fortune 500 companies, medical associations, AMC’s and hospitals, healthcare systems and organizations, universities and more. His diverse experience includes development of novel cloud-based infrastructures for enhanced intra-institutional and distant geography collaboration and communication and testing of new virtual technologies. He is an expert at promoting innovative environments to pursue solutions to challenges of the evolving healthcare landscape. Dan is sought after speaker. He has led speaking engagements around the country, and provides leadership for strategic planning events.
Dr. McCoy has served on the Dallas Regional Chamber Board, the Texas CASA Board and the TMA Board of Trustees. Prior to these leadership roles, he served on the Dallas County Medical Society Board and as past president of the Navarro College Foundation and the Texas Dermatological Society. He also gained significant experience in the public policy arena as chair of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) Council on Legislation and chair of the TMA Political Action Committee (TEXPAC).
Dr. McCoy graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Tarleton State University, and he earned an M.D. at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.
Tim Tabor, MD, Consultant & Subject Matter Expert
Dr. Tabor brings 25 years of healthcare, search and entrepreneur experience to Anthem Executive. While practicing as a diagnostic radiologist with Advanced Imaging, he has remained active in the search industry. Tim previously served as Managing Partner for a national executive search firm where he led the firm’s practice on behalf of clients within healthcare, medical device manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, applied sciences and higher ed. He worked with Chief Executives and Boards on a wide range of human capital priorities such as talent acquisition, executive development, succession planning and diversity talent identification and selection.
An entrepreneur, Tim was co-founder, CFO and executive sales leader for Adide’, Inc., an apparel company with international reach serving casual outdoor and technical fashion clients ranging from boutique apparel stores to national retail chains. He also developed and is currently bringing to market The Swing Wedge, an innovative golf swing aid device. Tim was co-owner of Physicians Open MRI and led executive sales efforts on behalf of Premier Imaging.
A native of West Virginia, Dr. Tabor attended Marshall University on academic scholarship, graduating magna cum laude in 3 years with a B.S. in Chemistry and matriculating to Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall. Tim has served nearly 25 years in private practice in radiology on behalf of healthcare systems and academic medical centers in Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Missouri and Michigan, including 14 years as Chief of Radiology for a southeast regional medical center.
Dr. Tabor lives in Birmingham with his wife of 19 years and their 3 children. Tim’s interests include being a drummer, a motorcycle and car racing enthusiast and an avid golfer.
Barry Conchie, Leadership Assessment Consultant & Subject Matter Expert
Barry Conchie is Founder and President of Conchie Associates LLC and has more than 30 years of experience in the areas of psychometric assessment, executive coaching, top-level succession planning, individual and team optimization, organizational effectiveness and strategic alignment. He has consulted and partnered with leading global organizations and has been consistently ranked as one of the top 50 Leadership Thinkers in the world.
Born and educated in the UK, Barry is a recognized expert in individual and team effectiveness. He has helped boards select top performing CEOs, has consulted in the areas of executive selection and succession planning and facilitated the formulation and strategic alignment with some of the world’s leading companies.
Previously, Barry served as a Senior Scientist with The Gallup Organization’s Global Leadership Research and Development division. His current research is in the science of decision making, heuristics and cognitive bias.
Barry is the co-author of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller, “Strengths Based Leadership,” and has been a long-time contributor to magazines, newspapers, business journals and media programs throughout the world.
Jerry F. Smith, CFRE, Advancement & Foundation Advisor & Subject Matter Expert
Jerry F. Smith, CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive), connects advancement professionals with the right career, both for the individual and the institution.
Author, lecturer, teacher and fund-raising consultant, Jerry founded the J.F. Smith Group in 1991. His mission in fund-raising—to enable clients to fulfill their fund-raising dreams through a unique, educational, professionally-directed development partnership—has proven successful in over 28 years of business.
Following a successful development career as Executive Director of Alumni and Development at Auburn University (including a $110 million dollar capital campaign), Jerry formed the J.F. Smith Group, and has conducted feasibility studies and capital campaigns for clients across the country—from Edmond, Oklahoma, to Washington, D.C., and from Chicago, Illinois, to Orlando, Florida.
Jerry has authored four books on fund-raising. His most recent book, Think Up!…And Achieve Your Fund-Raising Goals, was published in 2018. He is also a popular and respected convention presenter. Jerry has conducted seminars on an assortment of fund-raising topics both here in the United States, for the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD) and Blackbaud, and in Germany for the Catholic Fundraising Institute. He has taught fund-raising courses at Troy State University and Auburn University and was the recipient of the 2000 NSFRE Award for Civic Philanthropy.
Jerry has served on university boards of trustees, a foundation board, and as university board of trustees president. Jerry has been the recipient of numerous university awards throughout his distinguished career.
Hank M. Bounds, Ph.D., Consultant & Subject Matter Expert
Hank M. Bounds, Ph.D., system President Emeritus of the University of Nebraska, assist institutions and organizations with strategy development, enrollment and cost savings, nationwide executive search, president/chancellor and executive onboarding, executive coaching, board retreats, and more. He serves as consultant to numerous university administrators, Regents/Trustees and executives. Additionally, Hank maintains his academic profile as a professor at the University of South Alabama.
As president of the University of Nebraska, Hank oversaw a period of record growth and collaboration, including all-time highs in enrollment, graduation rates, student diversity, research expenditures and public-private partnerships. He was a champion of attracting more talent to the state to meet workforce needs and improving educational outcomes for Nebraskans, including his leadership of a $200 million-plus fundraising initiative to expand student access and success. He strengthened the university’s relationship with the military and presided over the announcement of a $92 million contract renewal for NU to continue its exclusive research partnership with the Department of Defense. Hank brought new levels of efficiency to the university, implementing and overseeing a successful effort to streamline major administrative functions that resulted in $22 million in savings. At the time of his departure, the University of Nebraska enrolled 52,000 students, employed 16,000 faculty and staff and had an annual operating budget of $2.6 billion.
Hank devoted his career to education early on, and came into his role at Nebraska with almost 30 years of executive experience and a demonstrated record of working with policymakers, business leaders and donors to advance shared goals related to economic growth and quality of life.
Hank proudly served in the Army National Guard before earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and a doctorate from the University of Mississippi.