BLOOMINGTON — The chief clinical officer of Chestnut Health Systems has been named the agency's new CEO, succeeding Russ Hagen, who announced his retirement last week.

David Sharar, 56, of Normal, who has been with Chestnut for 29 years, will assume his new duties on Jan. 7 after Hagen's retirement takes effect.

Sharar's appointment by the Chestnut board of directors, announced Thursday, had been expected.

"This appointment is the result of a lengthy key staff succession planning process," Judy Smithson, chair of the Chestnut board of directors, said in a prepared statement.

"In making this decision, the board recognizes Dave's long tenure at Chestnut, his experience in so many of the varied services Chestnut offers and the leadership skills he has exhibited over the years," Smithson said. "The board has every confidence that Chestnut's position at the forefront of the health and human service field will continue to flourish under Dave's leadership in the years ahead."

Sharar said, "Chestnut has a well-deserved reputation — locally, statewide, nationally and internationally — for providing high quality care for its patients and customers. I look forward to continuing to work with an outstanding staff of caring professionals who are devoted to Chestnut's mission of making a difference."

He called Hagen a fine mentor.

Chestnut, based at 1003 Martin Luther King Drive, Bloomington, is a diversified health care organization with a $50 million annual budget and 700 employees (including 256 in Bloomington-Normal) across Illinois and beyond.

Chestnut's lines of business include substance abuse treatment for adults and adolescents, mental health treatment, substance abuse research and training, employee assistance programs for U.S.-based and multinational companies, mental health stabilization, substance use detoxification, consumer credit counseling and primary health care through federally qualified health centers.

Sharar joined Chestnut 29 years ago to help to develop its employee assistance program for companies and governmental units. He later managed that operating division, now known as Chestnut Global Partners, which provides services in more than 150 countries.

For the past three years, Sharar has been Chestnut's chief clinical officer, responsible for behavioral and primary health service programs throughout Central and southwestern Illinois. He will continue those responsibilities.

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Editor

Health Editor for The Pantagraph.

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