Sonoma Valley Health Care District Appoints John Hennelly Sonoma Valley Hospital CEO

Mar 5, 2021 | Sonoma Valley Hospital News

The Sonoma Valley Health Care District Board, in conjunction with UCSF Health, has selected John Hennelly to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sonoma Valley Hospital. Hennelly, who will assume the position mid-April, replaces Kelly Mather, who left the position at the end of 2020. The decision and announcement were made at the monthly District Board meeting last night.

Hennelly is a seasoned executive who brings broad experience leading hospitals in a variety of environments. Most recently, he served as CEO of St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, Calif., where he successfully led a financial and operational turnaround. St. Louise is a 93-bed hospital with a 400-person staff. It was sold to Santa Clara County in 2019 and Hennelly was a key leader overseeing the transfer of ownership.

“Organizational success stems from input and contributions from many sources.” Hennelly said. “Great care and outcomes are driven by the medical and hospital staff. But that commitment, that dedication, is only part of the equation. Community support makes it all possible. Sonoma has the great fortune of having both.”

His prior experience includes executive positions with Presence Health, an 11-hospital system in Chicago, Ill., and with Saint Anthony Hospital, also in Chicago. Prior to that he held administrative positions with University of Chicago Hospitals.

“During an extensive search process, where we considered literally hundreds of candidates, we determined that John is the right person to lead Sonoma Valley Hospital,” said Joshua Rymer, board chair and chair of the search committee.

“During the process, John quickly moved to the top of our list. He is an excellent communicator who brings strong hospital operations experience and an understanding of how to work closely with physicians, partners, stakeholders and donors in a small community like ours,” Rymer said. “We are confident John will maintain and enhance the high standards of care we embrace while bringing considerable experience dealing with the fiscal constraints inherent in operating a community hospital today.”

Under the hospital’s new management services agreement with UCSF Health, the CEO, along with the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Medical Officer, will be employed by UCSF Health, with SVH reimbursing UCSF on a pass-through basis. The SVH CEO continues to report directly to the SVHCD Board of Directors with dotted line reporting to the president of the UCSF Health Affiliates Network, of which SVH is a member.

“John is an excellent choice to lead Sonoma Valley’s growing relationship with UCSF Health,” said Shelby Decosta, chief strategy officer of UCSF Health and president of UCSF Health Affiliates Network. “This is an important partnership for the residents of Sonoma County, offering the high standards of care in their community hospital, backed by the specialty-care expertise of a major academic medical center. Having worked in both types of organizations, John’s experience will enable him to integrate the advantages of each in the care SVH provides to patients.” 

The board approved a salary of $385,000 for Hennelly, along with an incentive package that includes a bonus for meeting specified performance goals. Rymer said the salary reflects the hospital’s practice of placing executive salaries at the mid-point for the position when compared with other similar-sized hospitals, based on industry salary data. “We believe this level of compensation is appropriate and allows us to be competitive in attracting and retaining experienced executive leadership,” Rymer said.

Hennelly holds a BA from American University in Washington, DC, and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is fluent in Spanish. He and his family plan to relocate to the area.

About Sonoma Valley Hospital: SVH is a 24-bed, full-service acute care district hospital located in the city of Sonoma, California, and serves a population of 42,000 residing in the Sonoma Valley Health Care District. SVH is the sole local provider of acute inpatient care in its area and offers a 24-hour emergency room, inpatient services with an ICU, surgical services and outpatient clinical testing and treatment. The hospital is affiliated with UCSF Health, based in San Francisco, which is ranked in the top 10 nationally and recognized worldwide for its innovative patient care, reflecting the latest medical knowledge, advanced technologies and pioneering research. Visit

About UCSF Health: UCSF Health is recognized worldwide for its innovative patient care, reflecting the latest medical knowledge, advanced technologies and pioneering research. It includes the flagship UCSF Medical Center, which is ranked among the top 10 hospitals nationwide, as well as UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, with campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians and the UCSF Faculty Practice. These hospitals serve as the academic medical center of the University of California, San Francisco, which is world-renowned for its graduate-level health sciences education and biomedical research. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. Visit: