Buckeye Ranch Taps New CEO: Nicholas Rees Brings Wealth of Business Experience to New Position

By Albright, Brian | Behavioral Healthcare Executive, March 2010 | Go to article overview

Buckeye Ranch Taps New CEO: Nicholas Rees Brings Wealth of Business Experience to New Position


Albright, Brian, Behavioral Healthcare Executive


When The Buckeye Ranch named Nicholas Rees as its president and CEO, a few people in Central Ohio's behavioral healthcare community expressed some surprise. The Grove City, Ohio-based organization provides a mix of inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance abuse services for children, and Rees would be only the third CEO in the Ranch's 50-year history. Unlike his predecessors, he had no clinical experience; in fact, his background was primarily in accounting and advertising.

"There was some worry about having this advertising guy [who] was going to be taking care of all of these kids," Rees says. "But the plan was that as soon as they named me CEO, they would find somebody to serve as a chief clinical officer."

As part of the transition, Rees' former position as vice president of development has been eliminated so that Rees himself can continue to act as the Ranch's "chief fundraiser." Stephen Richard, another Ranch veteran, has assumed the position of executive vice president of programs and services to oversee the clinical services and behavioral health programs.

Rees takes the helm at a point when behavioral healthcare providers face significant economic challenges. His primary focus this year will be on finding ways to reduce costs, improve reimbursements, and drum up additional funds from the Ranch's donors.

"There's a delicate balance between mission and margin," Rees says." We're engaging the board of directors more on this and recruiting members based on their knowledge set. We want to serve a lot of kids, but if we continue to do that at a loss we won't be here in the future to serve them."

Retail background provides unique skills

In Central Ohio, the Buck-eye Ranch is best known for its residential facility in Grove City, an open campus that includes a 51-bed intensive care center. But the majority of the cases the Ranch serves still live at home and utilize one of the organization's several other locations for care. Those include foster care offices (through the Square One for Youth program) in Newark, Dayton, and Cincinnati; the Cross Creek Day Treatment Center; and facilities at the Ohio School for the Deaf.

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While Rees is no clinician, his background makes him uniquely qualified to help steer the Ranch through these trying fiscal rimes. Rees, a graduate of Ohio Dominican University in economics and business administration, worked for 24 years with The Kroger Company, a national grocery chain, where he held positions in accounting, human resources, staff management, advertising, real estate, public relations, and community relations. …

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