It’s official: Maples announced as interim CEO at University Hospital

Tanya Freeman, chair of the University Hospital board of directors, said the board wanted to ensure an orderly transition of leadership after current CEO Shereef Elnahal was nominated to serve as an under secretary of health in Washington, D.C.

The group didn’t have to look far.

As reported by ROI-NJ last week, University Hospital officially announced Monday that Mary Maples has been named interim CEO. It’s still unclear when she will start in the position — as Elnahal is awaiting confirmation — but Maples is expected to start in the new role no later than May 1.

Maples, who has served as the hospital’s chief legal officer and corporate secretary, also is considered a top candidate for the permanent position.

Freeman applauded Maples.

“As the hospital searches for its next permanent president and CEO, the board of directors wanted to ensure stability for the organization as it continues to build on the operational and quality of care successes in recent years,” she said. “We are thankful that Mary will stay on at University Hospital and will work closely with the board in establishing a state-of-the-art, fiscally responsible, world-class acute care institution.

“As we continue to transform Newark and the region’s anchor health care institution and hospital safety net, the board of directors has the utmost confidence in Mary and our leadership team to continue to deliver on our promise to our community. We are also grateful and appreciative for the hard work done by Elnahal to put us on a path for continued success.”

Maples will lead University Hospital during a pivotal time in its rich history, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic moves closer to an endemic state. Maples was an integral part of the hospital’s crisis response to the pandemic, both within its local communities and at the state level.

Maples, along with Elnahal, were selected by Gov. Phil Murphy and Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli to serve as regional collaborators for the COVID-19 response in the northern region of the Garden State.

Maples said she was honored to be selected for the interim CEO role.

“University Hospital has steadily pursued an upward trajectory in recent years across operations, patient care, quality and community trust,” she said. “I am very excited and deeply honored to have the opportunity to lead this organization as we continue to meet the health care needs of our patients and the community.

“The board’s vision for this hospital, fueled by the strength and energy of my colleagues, has set the institution on a path to become a world-class academic health medical center. I am delighted to continue working with the leadership team, and our entire hospital family, to build on our success and see the institution live more deeply into our mission, vision and values.”

Elnahal saluted Maples.

“Mary Maples has been an integral part of our leadership team for a number of years, serving as both a critical adviser and an expert manager in advancing the organization forward — especially as the hospital has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “I am pleased that the board of directors recognized her skill, passion and drive for University Hospital.

“The future is brighter than ever for University Hospital, and the institution is in great hands with Mary at the helm of our leadership team.”

Maples had been intending to leave the hospital this month — and already had accepted the newly created position of chief strategy officer at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said he was sorry he would not get to work with Maples, but appreciative of the fact she will assume a role she is so suited to hold.

“Mary is a world-class person and, so, it’s no surprise to me that the board of University Hospital would turn to her to lead the organization after the great news of Shereef’s appointment by President (Joe) Biden,” he said. “While I’m of course disappointed that we won’t get to work with her every day, this is a great move for Mary and a smart decision by University Hospital.”

Before her tenure at University Hospital, Maples served the federal government for more than 11 years in the Central Intelligence Agency. There, she specialized in security matters before joining the Office of General Counsel.

Maples holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from American University, Washington College of Law.