Members of the JPS Board of Managers on Thursday announced that Dr. Karen Duncan, COO of the Tarrant County hospital district, will be promoted to president and CEO for the JPS Health Network.

What You Need To Know

  • Dr. Karen Duncan was appointed CEO by the John Peter Smith Board, and will lead the Tarrant County hospital system

  • Duncan will be the first woman in North Texas to head a major county health system

  • Duncan has served as JPS's COO for the past five years

  • Current CEO Robert Earley, will retire on Jan. 1

Duncan will assume her new role on Jan. 1, 2022. She will replace Robert Earley, who earlier this month announced his plans to retire after 13 years in the job.

“It is a testament to the strength of JPS that we found the right person to lead the health network into the future within our own ranks,” says Dr. Charles Webber, chairman of the JPS Board of Managers, in a statement. “Dr. Duncan has been a steadfast champion of providing our community with the care they need and deserve, and I look forward to her leadership.”

The JPS Health Network is a $1.3 billion, tax-supported health care system. It employs more than 7,200 and includes more than 40 sites for care across the region. More than one million patients visit every year, according to JPS.

“I am both humbled and honored to serve as CEO of such a highly esteemed and accomplished health care system,” says Duncan. “JPS is well positioned to lead the transformation of health care delivery in Tarrant County and to improve lives within the many communities we serve. I look forward to working alongside a committed Board, a strong executive and leadership team and an amazing JPS team.”

Duncan has been with JPS for five years. During that time, she has been responsible for “transforming the community health network of medical homes and clinics, and most recently has steered the implementation of the JPS Future Plan, the bond-supported development of health care services and sites throughout the county,” the Board of Managers says.

In addition to her experience at JPS, Duncan has worked in large public health academic centers and has held executive leadership positions at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital and Chicago’s Cook County Health and Hospitals System. Duncan, a board-certified pediatrician, came to JPS from Health Management Associates, a health care consulting firm, where as a principal, she consulted for large, publicly funded hospitals systems and government entities and managed care plans. 

Duncan studied medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Her credentials also include a bachelor’s in biochemistry at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and certification from the executive MBA program at Georgia State University.

“JPS is on the right track, and Dr. Duncan has been an integral part of that,” says Dorothy DeBose, incoming chair of the JPS Board of Managers. “We are fortunate to have a leader of her caliber ready to continue the great work we’ve already seen. We will work closely with her to design a succession plan for the organization that recognizes the current need for stability while continuing JPS’ growth.”

Last week, JPS Health Network received top marks for patient safety and quality measures from the Leapfrog Group, the latest in a growing list of accreditations and honors for the network, which includes Best Hospital for America by Washington Monthly.