FHK head Ben Chandler to retire December 31, current COO Allison Adams named next president

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky on Thursday announced Ben Chandler will retire as president and CEO of the nonprofit organization effective December 31. The board of directors has appointed current Chief Operating Officer Allison Adams as the next president and CEO.

“I am so honored and thrilled to have been chosen to take the reins of such a dedicated and respected organization,” said Adams. “It has been a privilege to work with Ben these past four years to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians. Our state still faces many health challenges, and I will not waiver in my commitment to creating a Commonwealth where every single person has what they need to live a healthy life.”

Ben Chandler, left, and Allison Adams (Photos from FHK)

Adams, of Maysville, has extensive experience in leading efforts to better the health of Kentuckians, a strategic mindset, and a proven passion for the mission of the organization. Her previous roles include Director for the Buffalo Trace District Health Department where she oversaw the operation of the small multicounty department and ensured the delivery of a broad range of public health services to 20,000 residents. She served as the President of the Kentucky Health Department Association, during which time she was influential in the passage of legislation for transforming Kentucky’s public health system. She also has experience in health care delivery as a registered nurse in the state.

She joined the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky in September 2020 as the vice president for public policy and was named the chief operating officer in January of 2023. In these roles she has coordinated numerous efforts to improve health policy in Kentucky and been a strong advocate for disease prevention measures.

“After a very thorough process, it was clear to everyone on the Board that Allison was the perfect choice to be the organization’s next leader,” said Marianne Smith Edge, chair of the board of directors. “We are excited to see what the future holds and know the Foundation will be in good hands. Allison’s experience, strategic skills, and dedication to disease prevention will be strong assets for the organization. The Board is grateful to Ben and all that he has done for the Foundation over the last eight years. His vision to lead the organization into policy advocacy has resulted in many wins for the health of Kentuckians.”

Chandler, of Versailles, became president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky in 2016, bringing his leadership of the nonprofit full circle. While serving as Kentucky Attorney General, he sued to recover the charitable assets from the Blue Cross Blue Shield – Anthem merger. The $45 million settlement in the case was used to create the Foundation in 2001.

Some of Chandler’s most notable successes during his time leading the organization are related to reducing tobacco-use in Kentucky. He was a strong advocate for the historic cigarette-tax increase passed by the state General Assembly in 2018, as well as the tobacco-free school campus bill in 2019 that resulted in a large increase of school districts covered by comprehensive tobacco-free campus policies.

Chandler also led the Foundation’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his guidance, the organization worked to promote vaccine confidence through several statewide campaigns, events, and research.

“It has been an incredible experience to lead the Foundation that I helped make possible during my time as an elected official,” said Chandler. “We have achieved things that many deemed impossible. While I am so proud of what we have accomplished these last eight years, I know there is still much to be done. I have the utmost confidence and trust in the organization’s future with Allison at helm.”

Chandler and Adams will continue in their current roles until the end of the year. Adams will begin the duties of CEO on January 1.

Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky

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