UHC CEO Colleen Curtis has announced her retirement effective Jan. 1, 2023. Graphic by Cynthia Padilla
Written by Ben Hensley
The longest serving CEO in the history of United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley (UHC) is stepping down following 20 years with the health system as it grew, expanded and evolved despite economic uncertainty and a global pandemic.
In a letter to UHC staff Nov. 10, UHC Board Chair Dr. John R. Shantz thanked Colleen Curtis for her decades of service, including as CEO over the past 14 years.
“Colleen has provided executive leadership to United Health Centers to create amazing success for UHC,” Shantz wrote on behalf of the UHC Board of Directors. “She is a powerhouse in our healthcare industry.”
Founded in 1971, UHC is one of the largest health care providers in the Central Valley, providing access to those in rural areas as well as the urban underserved. Its more-than-1,000 employees cared for over 165,000 patients during visits that topped 900,000 last year.
Focusing on treating individuals from all walks of life, UHC expanded its footprint to 28 individual Valley locations this year with the most recent opening of its Kingsburg facility in September.
Recently, Curtis said the federally qualified health center hopes to expand to 34 offices within the next several years.
“I will take with me great pride in our accomplishments over the last twenty years,” Curtis wrote in her announcement. “This period of my life has been like no other where it has been filled with so many tremendous experiences and meaningful relationships with staff I consider to be the most talented that I could have ever hoped to have worked with.”
Coming from a low-income household, Curtis’ mother urged her to attain scholarships and reach her goals by relying on her intelligence, Curtis shared in The Business Journal’s “How She Leads” publication in 2020.
She was also a featured speaker at this year’s “60 Ideas in 60 Minutes” event last month.
Ten years after graduating high school, Curtis returned to college, graduating from CSU Fullerton with high honors.
Curtis began her career at UHC in 2002 and became CEO in 2009.
Current Deputy CEO Justin Preas has been named the new CEO effective Jan. 1, 2023.
Preas and Curtis have nearly 20 years of experience collaborating with one another, the last seven of which have come while Preas served as deputy CEO.
“It is with equal gratitude that we are excited to have our new President and CEO, Justin Preas to lead the organization toward further accomplishments in the years ahead,” the announcement reads.