SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Almost a year after New Hanover Regional Medical Center officially transferred to Novant Health, the $1.25-billion community endowment born from the sale has announced its first president and CEO.
The New Hanover Community Endowment Inc. (NHCE) has appointed William Buster. He comes from Asheville’s Dogwood Health Trust, where he served as senior vice president of impact. Similar to the Novant-NHRMC sale, Dogwood’s $1.5-billion trust formed out of the Asheville Mission Health-HCA Healthcare deal in 2019.
Buster’s experience overseeing large-scale endowments and investment strategies, as well as working with a sizable board (Dogwood is run by 18 members), is expected to help New Hanover County’s Community Endowment fulfill its goals.
Buster will work closely with the 13 members of the NHC endowment board, as well as committees, stakeholders and organizations to ensure it reaches diversity, equity and inclusion within health, education, safety and economic sectors in the community. The team will focus on detecting root causes and challenges in each area and assessing solutions.
“We are confident that with William’s leadership, talent and experience, the NHCE will fulfill its mission, improving the lives and circumstances of every person in New Hanover and beyond,” endowment chair Spence Broadhurst stated in a press release.
A North Carolinian, Buster attended N.C. A&T University and earned a masters of arts from the University of New Hampshire. He also received an executive education certificate in mastering negotiation from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
“We all look forward to welcoming William and his family as they make New Hanover County their new home,” Broadhurst added.
Buster stated in the release: “I am humbled to further serve my home state and look forward to partnering with our inaugural board of directors in sustaining the positive momentum community members are already generating.”
Mandated by Attorney General Josh Stein as part of the approval of the NHRMC-Novant transaction, the board members gathered publicly for the first time in October to collect feedback from residents on how to shape its grant-making criteria. The final approval of the criteria is planned for July.
Grant applications are expected to open in the fall, with first grants going out by November.
Most of the money is in an index fund for now. The board will gain access to up to 4% of the endowment’s total market value annually, roughly $50 million in its first year.
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