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Mission Foundation CEO announces retirement

Published: Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 11:47 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 12:02 p.m. CDT

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ASHEVILLE. N.C. — Former Newton resident Bruce D. Thorsen, president and CEO of Mission Foundation for the past 23 years, has announced his pending retirement.

Thorsen, a native of Newton and a 1965 graduate of Newton Senior High School, joined Memorial Mission Foundation in September 1990 after serving hospitals in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids for over 20 years. Mr. Thorsen has been in the healthcare philanthropy field for nearly 45 years. He is a graduate of Drake University, Des Moines.

During his tenure at Mission, the Foundation has raised and given to Mission Hospital more than $150 million dollars according to John Kimberly, current chair of the Foundation Board of Trustees. “Bruce has been a tremendous asset not only to Mission but to our broader community as well,” said Kimberly. “He was a leading advocate for creating the WNC Non-Profit Pathways organization that today serves all nonprofits in our region, and he was a founding member of the local Association for Fundraising Executives (AFP) chapter in Asheville in the early ‘90’s.” Thorsen was named Outstanding Fund Raising Executive in 2001 by the AFP chapter.

“Bruce’s leadership at Mission has resulted in a number of key programs and facilities being directly linked to philanthropic support,” said Ronald A. Paulus, MD, president and CEO of Mission Health. “As just one example, without Bruce’s vision and perseverance there would be no ToothBus program – a service that has helped more than 20,000 Western North Carolina children receive necessary dental care without cost at their home schools.” Paulus continued saying: “the Foundation has sent hundreds of Mission bedside nurses to national continuing education conferences so that they could return with state-of-the-art care plans that have touched the lives of thousands of patients.”

“Bruce lead the effort to build the Reuter Children’s Outpatient Center in 2002 and raised the necessary resources such that the 70,000 square foot building was entirely funded by charitable gifts and grants, opening debt-free in 2006,” said Paulus. Thorsen’s recent projects include guiding the Foundation’s successful $15 million campaign for the new SECU Cancer Center and working to secure funding to upgrade and expand the MAMA air ambulance program.

“His legacy at Mission will be visible for many years to come,” indicated Kimberly. “His work and dedication have helped Mission gain its national status as a Top 15 Health System and a Top 100 hospital.”

A search committee of Foundation trustees, hospital management and community representatives are already at work to identify his successor. There will be an overlap of several months with Thorsen likely stepping down in early 2014 according to Kimberly and Dr. Paulus.

The Mission Foundation has solicited and received more than $150 million in gifts and grants from all parts of Western North Carolina, the state and the Southeast as well as nationally. The Foundation is the only Asheville-based non-profit to have attained nationwide accreditation by Charity Wise Alliance of the U.S. Better Business Bureau, meeting all 20 national standards.