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Superintendent's departure for Pardee role 'an absolute shock' to School Board

John Bryant

Pardee UNC Health Care announced Tuesday that its first vice president of Workforce Development and Community Affairs will be Henderson County schools Superintendent John Bryant, one day after Bryant stunned the School Board with the news that he would be leaving.

A highly respected community leader, educator and administrator, Bryant in the new role will be responsible for developing and recruiting a qualified workforce to fill a diminishing pipeline of healthcare workers. Inherent in this work will be the cultivation of key partnerships within education that will result in additional pathways for a career in healthcare. Bryant will formally join Pardee in this new role on July 1.

School Board Chair Blair Craven described the day after the board learned the news as "a tough day."

“Dr. Bryant handed in his resignation last night in closed session and it’s a huge loss for our school system,” he said. “He’s a phenomenal superintendent but an even better person and it’s been a really tough year and a half to be a superintendent and he has led us admirably.”

“His last day is June 30 so he gave us quite a bit of time to find a new superintendent, which is awesome,” he said. “So we are starting today a nationwide search. Hopefully, we’ll have some internal candidates and we'll cast as wide a net as possible to fill some really big shoes.”

Craven said Bryant let him know last week of his decision.

“He gave me that courtesy along with telling his leadership team and he told the board last night in closed session and it was an absolute shock to everyone.”

“We are thrilled that Dr. John Bryant will join our team in this new and very important role,” Pardee UNC Health Care President Jay Kirby said in a news release. “National shortages of nurses and other clinical roles have been prominent headlines for the past two years; Covid only exacerbated a problem that was already present and growing. Having a dedicated position that goes beyond recruitment to cultivating partnerships and pathways is a gamechanger for our organization, our community and the region.”
Bryant has more than two decades of experience holding leadership and administrative roles within the system and holds   degrees from Elon University, Gardner Webb University, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Western Carolina University. 

“The honor and privilege of serving HCPS among extraordinary educators for the past sixteen years has shaped a deep devotion to Henderson County," he said. "This role presents a vital and exciting opportunity to continue serving our community and the broader region, while seeking to have a positive impact on the lives of current and future employees. As VP of Workforce Development and Community Affairs at Pardee, we will be able to build upon the successful relationships I’ve developed with K-12 and higher education institutions in the region to cultivate sustainable pathways to healthcare careers.”

"We’re operating in a very interdependent system, now more than ever," he added. "Understanding how the education system can create pathways to support a more robust healthcare system is something I feel strongly about and have a unique perspective from which to work.”

Bryant and his wife, Lisa K. Bryant moved to Henderson County in 2006 where they have been engaged community members since. He is an active member and former chair of the Board of Directors of the United Way of Henderson County. He currently serves on the Henderson County Board of Health and the Board of Directors of the WNC YMCA. Previous community service includes membership on the Children and Family Resource Center Board of Directors and the Henderson County Transportation Advisory Board.