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Chestnut CEO Hagen To Retire In January

Chestnut Health Systems

The longtime leader who helped Chestnut Health Systems grow from a small drug treatment program into a health and wellness organization with global reach has announced plans to retire.

Russell Hagen said Tuesday he’ll retire in January, after 43 years with Chestnut, the last 36 as chief executive officer. In a statement announcing his retirement, Hagen noted Chestnut’s growth—from two dozen employees and a $300,000 budget to today’s $50 million budget and more than 700 employees.

“I have been incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to work for a wonderful organization these last 43 years,” Hagen said in a statement. “Chestnut’s mission is ‘Making a Difference’ in the lives of those we serve. That’s been my personal mission as well. I leave confident the next generation of leadership will continue to serve our clients for decades to come.”

Chestnut provides substance use disorder treatment for adults and adolescents, mental health treatment, housing services for mentally ill and addicted individuals, consumer credit counseling, and many other services. Hagen also helped create the Lighthouse Institute research and training division, which conducts human subjects research and clinical trials focused on substance use disorder treatment and aftercare.

Hagen also lead the development of Chestnut’s international employee assistance program which today operates in more than 150 countries. Hagen will work part-time for the next two years on that program.

“Chestnut’s local, state, national and international reputation for quality, innovation and caring for its patients is, in no small part, attributable to Russ Hagen’s leadership and vision,” Judy Smithson, chair of the Chestnut board of directors, said in a statement. “Despite the uncertainty implicit in the health care and budgetary environments, Chestnut is well-situated to meet the needs of tomorrow thanks to Russ Hagen’s stewardship over nearly four decades.”

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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