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Meet Charley Shimanski

The CEO of Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice

If asked to choose someone to lead Mount Evans Home Health Care & Mount Evans Hospice CEOHospice safely through the trials that lie ahead, you’d look for somebody who knows the territory.

You’d want to find a new president and chief executive officer (CEO) who knows money, and who can keep Mount Evans financially sound in increasingly precarious times. You’d want a person who understands the plight of the nonprofit and can confidently navigate the regulatory maze that surrounds it. You’d want a proven leader, and somebody who can demonstrate practical familiarity with the challenges of home health care and hospice. And you’d hope to find a willing applicant who appreciates Mount Evans’ essential role in the mountain community, and for whom the job will be a passion, not a paycheck.

You’d have to be pretty lucky to find somebody like that. Even so, after carefully considering more than 50 highly qualified applicants from around the country, the Mount Evans board of directors got lucky.

“The board is thrilled to have a person with Charley Shimanski’s character, skills, and benevolent spirit,” says board president Dale Lovin, meaning it. “Throughout the process we were impressed with his history, accomplishments, and caring heart. He possesses the proper balance of business acumen and grasp of nonprofit challenges. He has lived in our own back yard and he knows the mountain community we serve.”

When Mount Evans’ new president and CEO, Charley Shimanki, arrived in our own back yard from his native Wisconsin some 40 years ago, solid character and strong civic spirit were already part of his DNA.

“My parents taught me to give back in whatever way you can,” says Shimanski, who lives on Upper Bear Creek with his wife, Christiane Leitinger, and their two daughters. “I’ve been a volunteer in some capacity from a very young age.”

Shimanski cut his professional teeth in finance, spending most of the 1980s with investment powerhouses Wells Fargo and Oppenheimer Funds in places like London, Geneva and, ultimately, Denver. By 1993, however, his caring heart called for a change.

“I decided that a white-collar world and a closet full of suits wasn’t very fulfilling,” he says, “so I jumped to nonprofits.”

And what a good thing for nonprofits that was. Shimanski spent four years as CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, shepherding the state’s 19,000 nonprofits through good times and bad. In 2008 he hired on as president and CEO of the American Red Cross’s Mile High chapter, and two years later he was named the national organization’s senior vice president of disaster services in Washington, D.C. More recently, Shimanski accepted the top post at Rebuilding Together and put that struggling nonprofit back on a secure financial footing.

It’s not by accident that Shimanski tarried near the Alps before landing at the foot of the Rockies. He is mad for mountains, and 30 years ago he began volunteering with the Alpine Rescue Team.

“It was purely selfish,” he grins, a little sheepish. “I just wanted to learn how I could personally be safer in the mountains.”

What he learned is that a lot of people never learn that. Since joining the team he’s participated in hundreds of high-country rescues, has served as president of the Mountain Rescue Association, and has become a recognized expert on helicopter rescue operations and risk management. And as a certified emergency medical technician who’s flown many a mission as a volunteer Flight for Life flight medic, Shimanski knows more than a little about hands-on health care. As a package, Charley Shimanski’s adds up to a leader that Mount Evans’ board, its staff, its volunteers, and its community can feel very good about.

“Besides his experience with the nonprofit world, Charley has the ability to navigate within the changing environment of health care regulations, including those regarding Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance,” Lovin explains. “Above all, he can maintain the culture of Mount Evans that has been carefully crafted – we care for all people, regardless of their ability to pay. Care of the patient is paramount.”

Given his big-league background, one might wonder why Shimanski sought the big chair at a local nonprofit. In answer, he’ll tell you that a leadership role at Mount Evans is as big a job as any he’s yet taken on.

“The success and stability of this organization is due largely to Kathy Engel’s great leadership,” he says. “Kathy turned a relatively small nonprofit into one of the top one-hundred home health organizations in the country, and that’s a credit to her skill and leadership.

“That is important because there’s nothing small about the challenges that home-health organizations across the country are going to be facing in the next fifteen to twenty years. The number of low-income seniors needing home-health and hospice care is expected to double, and experts are predicting an existing nationwide nursing shortage to worsen. A big part of my nonprofit career has been helping agencies grow in capacity and capability. My job here will be to help Mount Evans prepare for those challenges ahead.”

That’s a great answer, although not the only one, and maybe even not the best one. In 1989, Shimanski’s mother died of cancer.

“It was my first experience with hospice. The care they provided—not just for my mother, but for me and my brothers—was extraordinary.”

Shimanski’s second experience with hospice occurred  when his father-in-law fell terminally ill here in Evergreen.

“Many people in this building right now were in our home taking care of him. He died as he would have wanted, with dignity and in his own bed. We have a very personal connection to Mount Evans. I’ve seen both home-health and hospice as a consumer, and I’ve seen the amazing care Mount Evans provides to both the patient and the family.

“This place means the world to me, and I am both humbled and honored to be part of the Mount Evans family.”