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Wake Forest Baptist Names Julie Ann Freischlag, M.D., Chief Executive Officer

Freischlag, Julie
Julie Ann Freischlag, M.D.

Pioneering Vascular Surgeon, Researcher, Health Care Educator Heads to Winston-Salem

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Feb. 14, 2017 – Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center today announced Julie Ann Freischlag, (pronounced FRY-shlog), M.D., as its new chief executive officer (CEO). Freischlag joins the medical center on May 1 and succeeds CEO John D. McConnell, M.D., who last year announced that he would transition to a new position at the Medical Center, after leading it since 2008. 

As CEO, Freischlag will oversee the full scope of Wake Forest Baptist’s academic health system which includes Wake Forest School of Medicine, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Wake Forest Innovations, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, and a network of hospitals, physician practices and medical/surgical services. The CEO reports to the medical center’s board of directors.

Freischlag, 62, comes to Winston-Salem from Sacramento, California where she is currently Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California Davis (UC Davis). In this role, Freischlag directs UC Davis’ academic, research and clinical programs, which include a 627-bed acute care hospital, a 1,000 physician private practice group, a school of nursing and a staff of 10,000 employees. 

Nathan Hatch, Ph.D., president of Wake Forest University, who co-chaired the CEO search with Wake Forest Baptist board member Art Gibel, said Freischlag possesses the full range of academic medical experience and clinical expertise to take Wake Forest Baptist to the next level. “Julie has devoted her career to improving the health of her patients, which coincides with our mission. In addition to her superb professional abilities, Julie is well known and widely respected within the field as a collaborator, a mentor and a strong community leader. We are very fortunate that she has chosen to join us.”

Steve Robertson, chairman of Wake Forest Baptist’s board of directors, added his praise for the many accomplishments led by McConnell during his tenure as CEO. “We are also very grateful to John for his vision and leadership of Wake Forest Baptist over these past eight plus years.  As the first ever CEO of the integrated medical center, John has been a trail blazer and made it ready for this smooth transition to Julie as our next CEO.”

As a vascular surgeon with 30 years of experience at top academic medical centers, Freischlag is nationally recognized as a leader in the advancement of medical education and training, the expansion of research opportunities and the improvement in patient and family-centered care.

Freischlag is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine, considered the highest recognition of professional achievement and commitment to volunteer service in medicine, as determined by her peers through election.

Prior to her career at UC Davis, Freischlag served as the first female chair of the department of surgery and surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and earlier as professor and chief of vascular surgery at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). 

She received an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Illinois, her medical degree from Rush University Medical College in Chicago and completed a surgical residency and vascular fellowship at UCLA.

Freischlag has served in multiple national leadership roles, including immediate past president of the Society for Vascular Surgery Foundation, past chair of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons, past president of the Society for Vascular Surgery and past president of the Association of VA Surgeons and the Society of Surgical Chairs.

Freischlag and her husband Phil Roethle (pronounced RAYT-lee), a retired financial executive, will relocate soon to the Winston-Salem area. Their family includes Matthew and wife Michelle, Paul and wife Gretchen, Taylor, a senior at the University of Maryland, and two grandchildren, Zoe and Milo.

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