Charles Donahue Joins BUSPH Dean’s Advisory Board

Posted on: January 24, 2014 Topics: Dean's Advisory Board

After a rich 40-year career in health care system planning and management, Charles Donahue has joined the Dean’s Advisory Board at the BU School of Public Health.

Donahue was president and co-founder of HealthCare Value Management in Norwood, Mass., which he helped build into New England’s largest network of health care providers used by self-funded preferred provider organization (PPO) plans. In his Advisory Board role, Donahue will help the Dean and senior school leaders evaluate strategy, provide advice on financial matters, and aid in securing philanthropic support during the School’s development campaign.

Charles Donahue

Charles Donahue

At upcoming meetings with School officials, Donahue said he plans to spend time carefully listening to learn the history of the School’s priorities and to see how many of those he can support and which areas would benefit from his experience.

“I have great respect for the School of Public Health and what it has accomplished over the years,” said Donahue, who started his career in health care in 1973, directing ground-level operations for several offices of the Health Planning Council for Greater Boston. “I have followed it closely for many, many years. And so I hope to offer input and advice if I can on things that might help the school and its programs.”

Donahue began his career with an interest in international health as a Peace Corps Volunteer with a tuberculosis control program in Malaysia. Donahue accumulated an encyclopedic list of contacts — and a host of humorous anecdotes – as his career ascended through the Massachusetts Health Research Institute, where he organized a framework for planning perinatal health services; through the BU Center for Health Planning, where he was the Director of Health Plan Development; and the Health Planning Unit of the Public Health Service of the HHS, where he oversaw the health planning agencies in three states.

While working at those agencies, Donahue became interested in ways that science-based policy changes – grounded primarily on solid epidemiological techniques — could improve maternal and child health. As a researcher, he co-authored multiple studies, published notably in the Journal of the American Medical Association, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, and the New England Journal of Medicine.

“I worked for many, many years on how can you make data usable and understandable to people and still credible,” Donahue said. “I have always had an interest in the value of quantitative skills and data.”

He eventually became the executive director of the Health Planning Council for Greater Boston, returning to the organization that gave him his professional start. It also brought Donahue back to one of his key interests, tackling the myriad challenges inherent in health care planning for a diverse urban area.

“I have always had a great interest in the City of Boston and working in its neighborhoods, as well as learning about the health care in the neighborhoods and advising people who live there. And I am very interested to see the role the School of Public Health plays in that,” Donahue said.