The Vermont Medical Society (VMS) has announced the appointment of Jessa Barnard, Esq., as its next executive vice president. Barnard will take over leadership of the state’s largest physician’s organization on Dec. 1st following the Nov. 30th retirement of Paul Harrington after 15 years of leading the Society.
In the position Barnard will lead efforts to represent the interests of VMS’ 2,000 physician and physician's assistant members and their patients before the Vermont General Assembly, governor’s administration, and regulatory and public policy boards throughout the state.
“I am deeply honored that VMS has put its trust in me to lead the organization for the years to come,” said Barnard, a Bennington native. “Vermont already has the reputation of being one of the best states in the nation to receive medical care. I am committed to working with VMS members and leadership to ensure that Vermont remains a leader in providing health care coverage, health care services and an environment in which physicians can enjoy the practice medicine and focus on caring for their patients.
“Thanks to Paul’s thoughtful advocacy and organizational guidance, I am inheriting a Society on strong footing and look forward to finding opportunities for future growth,” added Barnard.
Barnard, who has served as VMS’ general counsel and vice president for policy since March 2016, was hired after a nationwide search that yielded an exceptionally deep field of candidates.
“At this critical juncture in the evolution of our state and national healthcare systems, strong leadership from the physician, physician assistant and other health professional communities is an absolute must if we are going to reform the delivery of care in a way that protects our patients’ wellbeing,” said Wendy Davis, M.D., VMS president. “We were fortunate to have a very strong field of candidates for the position, but Jessa really rose to the top with her extensive health care policy expertise and familiarity with the state and its physician community. The Society is going to be in good hands with her as its leader.”
Barnard is a veteran of health care policy both in Vermont and New England. Prior to rejoining VMS in 2016, she previously served as policy specialist at VMS from 2002 to 2005, and spent four years with the Maine Medical Association, most recently as their associate general counsel, representing physicians in Augusta and addressing their legal and regulatory concerns.
Barnard, a graduate of Dartmouth College and Stanford University School of Law, has more than a decade of experience in health care policy and regulation and is a frequent speaker on topics including health reform, advocacy and issues in health law. Following her graduation from law school, she founded a program in San Jose, Calif., to address the legal barriers to health stability facing low-income individuals living with diabetes.
Barnard is the daughter of retired orthopedic surgeon Robert Block, M.D, of Bennington and lives in Montpelier with her husband and two children.