UPHP CEO Dennis Smith announces retirement

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) President and CEO, Dennis Smith, has announced his retirement after 15 years with UPHP. In July 2018, he will be succeeded as CEO by Melissa Holmquist, currently Chief Operations Officer at UPHP.

A native of Ann Arbor, Dennis Smith has been the CEO of UPHP since April 2003. In addition to his duties as the CEO of UPHP, Smith also serves as the President and CEO of Upper Peninsula Health Group and the Executive Director of Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions. Before joining UPHP, he was Senior Director of Michigan Health & Hospital Association for 15 years. In addition to his day job, Dennis also serves as Lake Superior Community Partnership Board Chair, Treasurer of Medicaid Health Plans of America, Brownfield Redevelopment Commission, and Treasurer of InvestUP, and past Board President of the Michigan Association of Health Plans.

UPHP Management Committee Chairman and CEO of UP Health System – Marquette, Brian Sinotte, commented, "Dennis Smith has been the driving force at UPHP for more than a decade. On behalf of the Management Committee I thank him for his exceptional leadership. In addition to building UPHP into one of the nation’s best health plans, he has also contributed immeasurably to the health care community across the Upper Peninsula.”

UPHP was founded in 1998, with just 6 employees. Under Smith’s leadership the company has grown strongly and consistently and currently employees a staff of over 150. Today, Upper Peninsula Health Plan serves over 47,000 members across five product lines (Michigan Medicaid, Children with Special Health Care Services, Healthy Michigan Plan, MI Health Link, and Medicare Advantage) and its network exceeds 1,500 providers.

"Managed Care was a new concept in 1998 when UPHP was started and I must thank our Management Committee for their foresight and support in all of UPHP’s efforts. I do not imagine that anyone in 1998 would have dreamed that UPHP would be the company it is today,” said Dennis Smith. “As we approach our 20th anniversary, I know UPHP is well set for the future. I believe that now is the right time for me to step down and pass the baton on to Melissa. I believe UPHP has a tremendous opportunity to build on our history. There are exciting choices for the new generation of leaders to make."

Melissa Holmquist is a native of Crystal Falls and a graduate of Northern Michigan University. She has been with UPHP for 15 years, working in numerous departments, and holding positions such as Director of Government Programs and her current position of Chief Operations Officer. “Melissa has an outstanding strategic and operational track record at UPHP and is highly revered by her colleagues,” said Sinotte. “Along with a recommendation from Dennis, the Management Committee was in unanimous agreement of her appointment as CEO.”

Holmquist was named UPHP Employee of the Quarter in 2002, 2006, and 2010 when she was also voted Employee of the Year in 2010. She is a Data & Research Committee member for the Institute of Medicaid Innovation, a Board of Directors Alternate for the Medicaid Health Plans of America, Government Programs Committee Member for the Michigan Association of Health Plans, and a Board Member on the Marquette County Economics Club.

"It’s been a pleasure to work with and learn from Dennis during my tenure at UPHP,” Holmquist said. “I look forward to building on his excellent foundations to drive the health plan through its next phase of development and create further value for our members."

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