United Ability names St.Vincent’s Foundation Exec as next CEO

United Ability
Photo courtesy of United Ability

After a nationwide search, the United Ability Board of Directors tapped Susan Sellers to become their CEO.

Sellers succeeds the late Dr. Gary Edwards, who led United Ability and its predecessor organizations with distinction for 38 years until his unexpected death in June 2020.

United Ability
United Ability’s new CEO Susan Sellers

The United Ability Board did not have to search far.  Sellers is currently President of the St. Vincent’s Foundation of Alabama. She joined St. Vincent’s as Vice President in 2014 and was promoted to President soon thereafter.

Based in Birmingham, United Ability serves more than 5,000 children and adults with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to autism including very rare genetic diseases. 

Brian Bateh, Business Development Partner at Warren Averett, chair of United Ability’s 10-person CEO search committee and a past Chair of the Board, noted, “from our very first encounter, Susan Sellers impressed the entire search committee with her strategic mindset and positivity. Her leadership has had a lasting impact on constituents and communities that are highly relevant to United Ability’s work. Her affinity for creating innovative programs and partnerships, both within her own organizations and across the larger community, held a special appeal to us.”

United Ability
United Ability line Point staff. Photo courtesy of United Ability

Seller will take reins of the organization on April 26, 2021.

“Dr. Edwards was uniquely effective in creating an organization widely recognized for the respect and dignity shown its clientele. His passing was a huge loss to United Ability and to the larger community,” said Sellers, “The resilience of United Ability’s executive team and staff following his death in the midst of the pandemic is a superb testament to his leadership. I am honored and humbled to have the privilege of building on such a strong legacy as we continue to find ways to be of greater service to people in need.”

Search Committee

In addition to Bateh, United Ability’s CEO search committee consisted of

·         Bob Chapman, retired CEO, Eastern Health System

·         Mark Cohen, MD

·         Jay Ezelle, Partner, Starnes Davis Florie

·         Ronne Hess, civic leader

·         Alyssa McQuilling, Project Leader at Southern Energy and President of United

Ability’s Junior Board

·         Tina Shaddix, United Ability Chief Operating Officer

·         Lisa Warren, CEO, Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center

·         Tricia Wells, VP of HR Operations, Encompass Health

·         Thomas Wilder, Pastor, Bethel Baptist Church

united ability
Teachers and staff at United Ability’s Hand In Hand. Photo courtesy of United Ability

The committee was advised throughout the search process by Sam Pettway and Paula Nicholas of BoardWalk Consulting, a national executive search firm.

Want to learn more about United Ability? Bham Now has published over 30 stories about this extraordinary organization.  Here are the archives.

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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