Jefferson Elects Patricia D. Wellenbach as Board Chair
First woman and nurse to lead the Thomas Jefferson University Board of Trustees in its 197-year history.
PHILADELPHIA — The Thomas Jefferson University Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously elected Patricia D. Wellenbach as the governing board chair marking the first time in its 197-year history that a woman will assume the helm.
As a future-focused enterprise, where innovation and creativity are fundamental, Jefferson is ushering in a BOT governance structure that is ready to meet the unique and evolving oversight demands of this thriving enterprise.
“Chair Wellenbach is a transformational leader who takes over at a time when Jefferson is transforming,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, President of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health. “Thanks to her work, and many others, she ushers in the most diverse board of trustees in our history. It’s a testament to how far Jefferson has come in responding to the communities we serve. And it is very exciting to have the first nurse leading our vision to reimagine healthcare, higher education and discovery.”
The selection of Wellenbach, President and CEO of the Please Touch Museum, who started her career as a Registered Nurse, comes at a critical juncture in Jefferson’s history. Since 2013, Jefferson has transformed from a three-hospital Center City enterprise with a health sciences university and one of the largest medical colleges in the country into a 14-hospital (soon to be 18) clinical enterprise with a six campus, professions-based university with nearly 200 majors across 10 colleges on the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels with a significant science and research portfolio and distinctive global footprint.
Since Dr. Klasko’s arrival at Jefferson in 2013, Jefferson has increased its board diversity with minorities and women accounting for 43% of the board, including 14% African American representation. Of note:
- Michael E. Sneed is the first African American vice chair of the board
- Leslie J. McNamara is co-vice chair of the board
- Eight women are on the board (38% of the overall representation is female)
In addition to running one of the country’s leading children’s museums, Wellenbach is the former President and CEO of Green Tree School and Services, an agency located in Philadelphia that serves adults and children ages 5‐21 who are on the autism spectrum or are severely emotionally disabled. Since joining the TJU Board of Trustees, she has chaired the clinical affairs committee for Jefferson Health, and has been a member of the Compensation and Human Capital Committee and the Executive Committee of the board. She had been a board member at Abington Hospital and chaired the board subcommittee that negotiated the merger agreement with Jefferson. Ms. Wellenbach currently serves as a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors, Women Corporate Directors, PA Women’s Forum and Forum of Executive Women, as well as a Director of the NACD Philadelphia Chapter Board.
Wellenbach started her professional career as a registered nurse at Pennsylvania Hospital, where she was a staff nurse in labor and delivery and later was the clinical coordinator for Obstetrics.
The granddaughter of Irish immigrants, whose father was the first to go to college and whose mother was never able to attend college, Wellenbach recognizes the magnitude of this moment in Jefferson history.
“I did not break a glass ceiling alone; I stood on the shoulders of hundreds, maybe thousands of men and women who have dedicated their time and talent to assuring that Thomas Jefferson University is a beacon of hope, inspiration and change,” Wellenbach said. “Nearly 200 years of trustees who always brought their best to bear in their stewardship of this remarkable organization.”
Click here to read Ms. Wellenbach's full bio and interview.