Search Begins for “Glass Half-Full” Candidate to Lead Cover Oregon

Dennis Karras, CEO, Karras Consulting

Dennis Karras, CEO, Karras Consulting

The next executive director of Cover Oregon should be someone who looks at challenges and obstacles and sees opportunity, says Dennis Karras, CEO of Karras Consulting. The Olympia-based firm is leading the search for a new executive director on behalf of Cover Oregon’s board of directors.

“We’re going to be looking for people who are ‘glass half-full’ rather than ‘glass half-empty,'” Karras told State of Reform.

Karras Consulting initially posted the job announcement last Wednesday but then slightly revised the “desirable qualifications” in the announcement to reflect input received from the Cover Oregon board’s search committee on Thursday. The revised announcement is on the firm’s website.

Ideally, the next executive director of Cover Oregon will be someone who welcomes the chance to lead an organization that is both “a start-up and a turn-around,” Karras said.

Cover Oregon has faced a barrage of criticism in the past few months, and in recent weeks has become the target of investigations and inquiries at both the state and federal level.

But none of that is likely to deter the right candidate, Karras said.

“This is a unique job in that it has some challenges and obstacles that you don’t find every day, because of some failures that they’ve had, and they’ve had a lot of adverse publicity,” he said.

But interestingly enough, there are people out there who are interested in these kinds of positions because of the challenge. And in truth, it’s unlikely that things can get much worse. So for someone coming in, it’s an opportunity to really make a difference and contribute and provide a service that’s needed right now.

Karras predicts the firm will come up with a good pool of candidates. He said today that there had been 20 responses to the job posting by Monday night. “We have some pretty interesting candidates already,” he said.

The firm is engaged in targeted recruitment efforts, “reaching out to people we think would be a good fit for this job or people who know of other individuals who would be good,” Karras said.

The firm has already been in touch with several other state-based health benefit exchanges–including exchanges in Washington, Connecticut and Kentucky–for suggestions of potential candidates.

Karras said the salary range has not yet been set. “But as we look at other health exchanges around the country, and especially in the Pacific Northwest, the range is about $160,000 to $215,000,” he said. “So it’s probably going to be in that range.”

The deadline for submitting an application is March 14. But Karras said applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

The Cover Oregon board has said it would like a new executive director in place by April.