Tampa General Hospital Welcomes New Members and Leadership to its Board of Directors; Celebrates Countless Contributions of Longtime Board Members

Published: Oct 18, 2023


Tampa, FL (Oct. 18, 2023) – During its annual board of directors meeting, members of the Florida Health Sciences Center board elected Drew Graham as chair. Graham succeeds Phil Dingle, who will remain on the board as immediate past chair.

“I am proud to have served on the Tampa General Hospital board over the last six years as Tampa General strengthened its partnership with USF Health, expanded its geographic footprint to reach new markets, and elevated the exceptional care offered to patients across our great state,” said Graham. “We’ve accomplished a great deal under the outstanding board leadership of Phil Dingle, who helped guide the system through global public health threats, supply chain disruptions, and workforce shortages, all while leading with a servant’s heart. Our work has just begun, and I’m excited to succeed Phil as chair and work with John Couris and his leadership team to continue supporting TGH’s critical mission and vision.”

In addition to Graham’s appointment, board officers elected during the meeting, effective October 1, include:

  • Blake Casper, Vice Chairman and Treasurer
  • Greg Celestan, Corporate Secretary

“As one of the nation’s leading academic health systems, Tampa General has a bold vision to be the safest and most innovative academic health system in America. TGH is well on the way to making this a reality, in part due to our exceptionally engaged board of directors,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General. “We have benefited from excellent board leadership during my six-year tenure, and I am confident that Drew, along with the new executive committee and the entire board, will continue to guide and support the leadership team on this trajectory of excellence.”

Graham previously served as vice chair of the board and chair of the Finance Committee. He first joined the board in 2017 in his role as chair of the Tampa General Hospital Foundation. Graham is the founder and managing partner of Ballast Point Ventures, a Tampa-based venture capital firm with $550 million under management focused on Florida, the Southeast and Texas. Ballast Point Ventures provides early growth equity capital to rapidly growing private companies in the health care, software and technology-enabled services industries.

Casper joined the board in 2015, currently chairs the Finance Committee, and previously served as chair of the Investment Committee. He is CEO of Caspers Company, a hospitality management organization that owns, operates and supports hospitality concepts, including hotels, clubs, full and quick service restaurants, and behavioral health clinics. Caspers Company also specializes in residential and commercial design services. 

Celestan joined the board in 2019 while also serving as chair of the TGH Foundation. He is the CEO of Celestar Corporation, a defense consulting company specializing in intelligence support. Celestan started his company in Tampa after serving more than 20 years in the U.S. Army. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2004 after deployments around the world including Belarus, Germany and Western Africa. At MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, he coordinated intelligence in matters related to Russia and Central Asia, then Afghanistan and Iraq.

During the annual meeting, Graham presented Dingle with the “Chairman’s Award” for his unwavering commitment to the organization’s vision and his instrumental role in shaping TGH’s growth and success. Dingle joined the board in 2007 and has served as chairman for the last three years. Over the course of his service, he has taken an active role in engaging, supporting and collaborating with Tampa General leaders and team members. In July this year, Dingle earned national recognition for his outstanding leadership, advocacy and commitment to Tampa General when Modern Healthcare honored him for “Excellence in Governance.”

The board also presented John Touchton and Dr. Thomas Bernasek with governance awards, recognizing them for their tenure on the board as their terms come to an end. Dr. Bernasek, who was recognized by Dingle as one of the hardest working members on the board, ends more than nine years of board service to TGH. Touchton ends his 15-year board tenure, including three years as chair of the board (2017 to 2020).

The board also elected new board members Gordon Gillette and Dr. Debbie Rinde-Hoffman, and re-elected members Marylou Bailey, Patricia Jurinski and Dr. Bruce Zwiebel to new terms.

Gillette joins the board as an ex-officio member, serving as the TGH Foundation Board Chair. He is the former CEO of the non-profit Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County, a $100 million federal, state and community-funded organization for the education of children ages five and under. Prior to that, he was president and CEO of Tampa Electric and president of Florida Operations, which includes TECO Peoples Gas System. Gillette’s career with TECO Energy spanned 36 years before he retired in 2017.

Dr. Rinde-Hoffman is the TGH Heart & Vascular Institute Vice-Chief of Business Development and Physician Network and an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology specialist with Tampa General Medical Group. For decades, she was the medical director of the TGH Heart Transplant Program, during which time she established the left ventricular assist device (LVAD) program and Heart Failure Center of Excellence. She co-established Florida’s first comprehensive Cardiogenic Shock Program and played an integral role in elevating the reputation of TGH’s Advanced Heart Failure Program as one of the world’s best.

The FHSC board, which is comprised of volunteers, serves as the governing body for Tampa General Hospital and its affiliates. The board provides oversight of all strategic, financial, auditing and governance matters for the nonprofit academic health system.

New board members are nominated by a committee and approved by the full board. Leadership roles are elected by their peers. Leadership and board members are eligible to serve three three-year terms, and the chair of the Tampa General Hospital Foundation serves a two-year ex-officio term on the FHSC board.