Olmsted Center for Sight hires CEO

March 27, 2013 Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 8:08 AM EDT

By Tracey Drury, Buffalo Business First

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Olmsted Center for Sight hires CEO

March 27, 2013 Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 8:08 AM EDT

The former president of Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital will take on a new leadership role as president/CEO at the Olmsted Center for Sight.

Olmsted officials announced Tuesday that Tamara Owen will take the helm of the nonprofit agency beginning April 8.

Owen, a top health-care executive for more than 20 years in the Western New York region, was selected following a nationwide search.

She succeeds Ron Maier, who retired last July.

Owen most recently served as chief operating officer of the Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute. The position was eliminated in January following an administrative restructuring.

Born and raised in Boston, Owen joined Kaleida in 1990 as a physical therapist. Over 22 years, she rose up through the ranks to serve ultimately as president at both DeGraff Memorial Hospital and Millard Gates. After Gates closed last year, she transitioned into the COO position and helped lead the integration of programs at the downtown medical campus when Millard Gates programs were merged into Buffalo General.

The $8.8 million agency provides a range of programs and services for the blind and individuals with visual impairments. Based on Main Street adjacent to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the Olmsted Center for Sight has nearly 290 full- and part-time employees.

In announcing the appointment, Olmsted Center board chairwoman Patricia Clabeaux cited Owen's background.

"We are confident Tammy will successfully lead our organization into the future, and build upon our organization's legacy and recognition as a regional, national and international leader for people of all ages and degrees of visual impairment," Clabeaux said. "Her strong background in health care management, with a special focus on service delivery, and a team-oriented, results-driven leadership style will serve us well."

Owen was selected from a field of more than 50 candidates and was among three finalists for the post.

In addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees in physical education, sports medicine and physical therapy, Owen holds an MBA from the University at Buffalo and earned a certificate in executive leadership at Harvard Business School. She has been recognized in Business First on its Top 50 Healthcare Executives and Women of Influence lists.

Founded in 1907 as the Blind Association of Western New York, the Olmsted Center is home to the Statler Center, which provides training in hospitality employment and customer service; and also houses the WNY 2-1-1 Call Center. Other programs include a collaborative effort with the University at Buffalo, the Ira G. Ross Eye Institute.

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