Press Release

AHA President Dick Davidson Announces Retirement

Dick Davidson, president of the American Hospital Association (AHA) since 1991, will retire from the post, effective January 1, 2007.  Davidson, 69, is the second longest-serving president in the association’s 108-year history.

The AHA also announced today that the association’s Board of Trustees has chosen Richard J. Umbdenstock, a top executive with Providence Health & Services in Seattle as Davidson’s successor.  Umbdenstock will be the tenth person to hold the chief executive position.

To ensure a smooth transition, Umbdenstock will join the AHA as chief operating officer and president-elect in June before assuming the presidency next year.  Umbdenstock recently served as the AHA’s Board chairman, a volunteer post from which he has resigned. The Board has asked AHA’s immediate past chair, George Lynn, president and chief executive officer of AtlantiCare in Atlantic City, N.J., to fill the remaining months of Umbdenstock’s term.

Davidson led the 4,800-member association through one of the most tumultuous periods of change in hospitals and health care in America. It was early in his tenure that the nation debated comprehensive health reform under President Clinton. At the same time, many hospitals underwent a fundamental change in their structures, evolving into health systems with multiple sites and services, rather than the traditional hospital model. When the concept of “managed care” swept the health care field, causing major changes in health care delivery and payment, the AHA under Davidson’s leadership undertook a wide range of policy and legislative initiatives to help its members cope with the rapidly changing environment.

While at the AHA, Davidson helped establish the Institute for Diversity in Health Management and spearheaded the Hospital Quality Alliance – a public/private partnership that created publicly available information on hospital quality measurement nationally for the use of both consumers and internal hospital quality improvement.  In 2004 and 2006, the association established two centers devoted to improving hospital and health system governance and quality and patient safety.

Davidson was the first president of the Maryland Hospital Association from 1969 to 1991.  Under his leadership, the organization was recognized nationally for its work on trustee involvement in state association affairs, payment reform, the development of clinical quality indicators and medical and corporate values and ethics in the hospital setting.

Born in Philadelphia, Davidson earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in education from West Chester University and Temple University, respectively, both in Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in education from Washington, D.C.'s George Washington University.

A nationally recognized health care leader, Umbdenstock has deep roots with the AHA. Early in his career, Umbdenstock served as special assistant to then-AHA President Alex McMahon.  While on staff at the AHA, he created the association’s outreach programs for hospital governing boards.  He has remained active in the association serving on the Circle of Life Award Committee and joining the AHA Board in 2000. During his Board service, he was chairman of the operations committee and was on the Board’s executive committee.  He became Chairman of the AHA Board of Trustees on January 1.

Before the creation of Providence Health & Services, Umbdenstock served as president and CEO of the Spokane, WA-based Providence Services for more than a decade.  During those years, he helped create Inland Northwest Health Services, a community collaborative with a far-reaching information technology system, a regional rehabilitation institute, a tele-medicine network, and emergency transport system and other shared services in a joint venture with competitor Empire Health Services.  The regional information network has become a national model for sharing patient care information among hospitals, physician offices and other provider locations.

Before that, Umbdenstock spent 10 years as an independent consultant to voluntary hospital governing boards in the United States and Canada. An author of several books and articles for hospital trustees, he is also active in national and local organizations.  Umbdenstock currently serves on the boards of the Spokane Diocesan Foundation and Spokane Chamber of Commerce.  He has also served as chairman of Premier, Inc., as well as on the boards or advisory boards of Gonzaga Preparatory School, Spokane; the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education, Spokane; Family-A-Fair, Spokane; Group Health Northwest, Spokane; and, The Cheswick Center, Rockville, Md.

Umbdenstock received a bachelor’s degree in politics from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., and a Master of Science degree in health services administration from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In May, 2003, Umbdenstock was awarded a Doctor of Laws honorary degree from Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA.  He is a diplomate of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

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