Center City, Minn. (December 16, 2022) – For a chief financial officer, few things could be more satisfying than saying at retirement: “We more than doubled the size and revenue of the organization.”
While Jim Blaha, CFO of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, can make that claim after almost 13 years with the nonprofit addiction and mental health care leader, he says he is proudest of the organization’s mission and people.
“When I retire next year, I’ll leave with the satisfaction of knowing I paid as much attention to the mission of the organization as the margin, and that I got to meet and work with so many wonderful people who make me truly proud to be here,” Blaha said.
The Minnesota native and lifelong resident, who is also Hazelden Betty Ford’s chief administrative officer and the treasurer for its Board of Trustees, announced today he plans to retire on May 5.
“It has been the best job of my life and the best place for me to finish my career. I wanted to provide plenty of time for the organization to recruit and hire an excellent successor,” Blaha said.
The experienced financial strategist’s leadership responsibilities span many areas, including finance, payor relations, contracting and utilization, real estate and facilities, human resources, information technology, revenue cycle and health information management. At other times, he also oversaw the legal department as well as standards and compliance.
“Jim is an absolute statesman – a beloved leader and the embodiment of our values and professionalism at Hazelden Betty Ford,” said President and CEO Joseph Lee, MD. “Jim helped us successfully navigate the pandemic and before that helped guide us through a decade of tremendous growth, enabling us to reach exponentially more people with healing and hope. He also developed a number of other excellent leaders who will be making an impact here for years to come.”
Blaha’s tenure included the opening of nine new sites, several significant expansions, the launch of telehealth services, and the 2014 merger of Hazelden and Betty Ford to form the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation's leading nonprofit system of addiction treatment, mental health care, recovery resources and related research, prevention and education services. Blaha also helped the organization transition from a primarily self-pay model, with only two payer contracts in 2010, to an insurance model with more than 60 contracts nationally today—a move that enables well over 90 percent of Hazelden Betty Ford’s patients to access services utilizing their health insurance.
Before joining the team at Hazelden Betty Ford in March 2010, Blaha served as the CFO of a senior healthcare, housing and assisted living organization for 17 years. Earlier, he spent 16 years working in public accounting and management consulting as a designated healthcare industry specialist, with 13 years at Deloitte.
Blaha grew up in St. Paul and graduated from the University of St. Thomas. As a child, he spent his earliest years living just a few blocks from Hazelden Betty Ford’s outpatient center in St. Paul.
“I always knew about Hazelden Betty Ford, and had enough acquaintances in life to recognize how important the work was – it turned out to be a great fit,” Blaha said. “Today, anytime someone asks me where I work and I tell them, they right away have a story about themselves or loved one and how they wear their treatment as a badge of honor, not a stigma. I love that.”
Blaha and his wife Cathy have four grown children and a seven-year-old grandson. “I’ll still be working for several more months,” he said, “but we’ve started our bucket list and look forward to eventually traveling throughout Europe, including to the Czech Republic, where my grandfather lived.”
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health care for adults and youth, the Foundation has treatment centers and telehealth services nationwide as well as a network of collaborators throughout health care. Through charitable support and a commitment to innovation, the Foundation is able to continually enhance care, research, programs and services, and help more people. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its services and throughout the organization, which also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction.