The Avedis Foundation board of directors has announced the impending retirement of the Shawnee-based foundation's president and CEO, Michelle Briggs, effective June 30.

The Avedis Foundation board of directors has announced the impending retirement of the Shawnee-based foundation’s president and CEO, Michelle Briggs, effective June 30.

Briggs assumed the foundation’s leadership role at the time of its formation in June, 2012, following the sale of Unity Health Center to SSM Health Care/St. Anthony Shawnee. The sale prompted the establishment of a foundation from Unity’s former board, known as Community Health Partners. Briggs joined the Community Health Partners board in 1996, serving as its chair for the last six years before the transition and negotiating the sale of the hospital to St. Anthony.

"For more than 20 years, Michelle has provided invaluable leadership – first to our hospital as a Board Member and Board Chair, and subsequently to Avedis Foundation as our CEO,” stated Avedis Foundation board chair Mike Adcock. “On behalf of Avedis' entire board of directors, I would like to recognize Michelle's leadership during a challenging transition from hospital to foundation,” Adcock added.  

With assets in excess of $100 million, Avedis Foundation is one of Oklahoma’s larger foundations. Under Briggs’s leadership of nearly six years, Avedis has issued more than $19 million in grants to numerous organizations in Shawnee and Pottawatomie County, in fulfillment of the foundation’s mission “to measurably improve the health, wellness and quality of life for the people of Pottawatomie County and its surrounding communities.”

 During her tenure at Avedis Foundation, Briggs has also overseen numerous projects, initiatives, and partnerships benefiting the communities within the foundation’s service area. Some of those include:

• Collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the construction of trails in six Pottawatomie County communities;

• Establishment of a citywide Master Trail Plan, in partnership with the City of Shawnee, consisting of planned trails to be constructed in four phases and to be funded over five years; the completed project, which will provide a network of walkability across Shawnee for years to come, is currently in Phase 2;  

• Launch of Oklahoma’s first Blue Zones Project (Shawnee); Blue Zones is a nationally recognized, research-driven, well-being improvement initiative, designed to enable community members to live longer, happier lives with lower rates of chronic diseases and a higher quality of life;

• Construction of Avedis Park at Shawnee Middle School, a $1.5 million project that includes four multi-purpose courts, an outdoor amphitheater, an outdoor classroom, and a walking/biking trail which is open to the school and to the entire community;

• Construction of the Shawnee Water Park, the Maud swimming pool, numerous splash pads, school security systems, and playgrounds throughout Pottawatomie County and surrounding communities;

• Partnership with the Regional Food Bank for the establishment of the Community Market of Pottawatomie County, a client-choice, free grocery store, available to anyone in need of nutritious food;

• Funding for and collaboration with the Partners in Caring education initiative, which consists of a collaboration of numerous agencies in service of children;

• Establishment of Community Renewal of Pottawatomie County, a relational program designed to put intentional caring back into our neighborhoods, to provide free summer camps and after-school programs for children through the construction of the program’s first "Friendship House,” currently underway, with a second in the planning stages;

• Funding a licensed cosmetology school at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud, OK; the first of its kind in the state of Oklahoma, the program allows inmates to become licensed prior to their release from prison; 

• Establishment of Shawnee’s annual Health Week, engaging the community through different events every day and culminating in a Glow Run;

• Establishment of the Avedis Nonprofit Leadership Institute; in partnership with the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and independent consultants, the focus of the Avedis program is to enhance the capacity of area nonprofits through courses in marketing, board development, strategic planning, and more;

• Establishment of the Avedis Speaker Series, which brings nationally renowned speakers to Pottawatomie County to broaden knowledge and thinking on various topics.

Shawnee City Manager Justin Erickson has worked with Briggs on several of Avedis Foundation’s projects. "Her entire career has been about breaking barriers and expanding opportunities," Erickson observed. "As the city manager for the City of Shawnee, I know firsthand that Michelle Briggs has made a dramatic difference in the quality of life for thousands of individuals in this city and throughout the region," Erickson added.

Briggs, a graduate of Class X of Leadership Oklahoma who distinguished herself in the banking and insurance industries earlier in her professional life, has no plans to slow down after retirement. She will continue serving as a co-chair for Blue Zones in Shawnee, as a board member of the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma, and as a board member for Community Renewal of Pottawatomie County.

“Michelle’s consistent ability to care for others has distinguished Avedis as one of our State's leading foundations,” Avedis board chair Mike Adcock continued. “She has been seen as a leader among her peers for many years and Avedis' reputation and performance have benefitted from both her leadership and her guidance. We will miss these qualities and we will certainly miss Michelle as our CEO,” he concluded.