Home Features Hazelden's Breyer Alienates, Execs Leave In Droves
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Hazelden's Breyer Alienates, Execs Leave In Droves | Print |  E-mail
Written by Ted Jackson   
December 2007

Hazelden LogoEarlier this fall, William Cope Moyers, Hazelden's external affairs VP that many view as The "heart and soul" of the institution, gave his employer notice, making him just the latest of a long list of top Hazelden executives to resign from their posts in recent months. In fact, over the past year or so, much of the top leadership reporting to CEO Ellen Breyer have left, including such key players as market development chief Tom Galligan, chief legal officer Ivy Bernhardson and the institution's highly regarded chief medical officer, Dr. Marvin Seppala. Cope Moyers says he continues to work at Hazelden for now - he William Cope Moyersadmitted to Treatment Magazine that he "gave notice," but he wouldn't say why, nor talk of his plans - and most of the departing execs appear to have left to pursue other opportunities.And while some of the ex-Hazelden executives, speaking privately and not for attribution, say they agree that the pursuit of other opportunities was a major factor in the recent departures, a background thread running through some of the resignations, they say, may also have been an unwillingness to continue working with CEO Breyer.

Brusque Style

Former Hazelden EVP Mike Schiks, who left in January to become CEO of an affordable center in Granite Falls, MN, refused to comment directly on whether Breyer's management style, described privately by others as sometimes quite brusque, was a factor in his resignation, as well as perhaps in some of the others. But when asked if Ellen Breyer was indeed a factor, Schiks did say one could "read between the lines" when it came to Breyer's role in the spate of recent resignations, especially given their high volume. Others, speaking on condition of anonymity, were far more direct. "Absolutely, she was a factor," said one senior exec who resigned earlier this year. "I did not enjoy working for her," he continued, "but I enjoyed Hazelden." The executive did not elaborate further, except to say it was his impression Breyer's management style may also have played a role in why other executives had decided to leave as well. But some departing execs, as well as a Hazelden board level source who requested anonymity, insisted the departures had little to do with Breyer's management style, being due more to Ellen Breyerexecutives leaving to pursue other plans and opportunities, they said. Breyer herself did not respond to an email sent asking for comment on why there has been such high executive turnover.

Hazelden No Comment

And a spokesman for the renowned non-profit told Treatment Magazine that the institution would not comment on personnel matters, saying that Cope Moyers "remains a Hazelden employee," and neither confirming nor denying that Cope Moyers has given notice. Former Chief Market Development Officer Tom Galligan, who negotiated critical managed care contracts with Blue Cross that now account for a very large percentage ofHazelden's revenues, says executives mainly left for other jobs, pointing out that Ivy Bernhardson was appointed to a judgeship, which he says had always been a dream of hers. But Galligan himself does not appear to have left for another job, saying only that he may or may not embark on a new healthcare venture with some former health insurance executives. And the board level source who requested anonymity said that Hazelden's board had given Breyer "carte blanche to do what she needed to do" when it comes to the operations of the non-profit, also pointing out that new CEOs have the right to bring in their own executive teams. But if that's what Breyer is preparing to do, bring in her own team, she has taken her time, having been CEO for five years.

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