Marion County Hospital District picks new leadership

Teresa Stephens poses for a photo at Millennium Bank on East Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala on Monday, August 7, 2023. Stephens is the president of Millennium Bank and the new chairman of the board of the Marion County Hospital District. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2023.

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Posted August 10, 2023 | By Jennifer Hunt Murty

Editor’s Note: The number of years Stephens has been in banking has been corrected.

The trustees of the Marion County Hospital District (MCHD) unanimously elected a new chair and vice chair at their July 31 meeting. 

Both positions are unpaid and serve for a term of one year.

The trustees nominated only one person, Teresa Stephens, for the top leadership position. Stephens replaces Rich Bianculli, who served as chairperson for six years.

Stephens has a banking career that spans 41 years and is currently the Market President of Millennium Bank. She holds a master’s degree in business administration with a specialty in management from Strayer University and a bachelor’s degree from St. Leo University. She has lived in Marion County since 1982.

Stephens was appointed to the board by the Marion County Board of County Commissioners (MCBCC) in 2020 to fill a vacancy created when trustee Sheryl Goedert resigned. Stephens was recently appointed for a second term that runs through June of 2027.

Stephens said of the trustees’ unanimous vote, “I’m honored to have the faith and support of the trustees in continuing the important work of the hospital district.”

Over the past two years, Stephens has served as vice chair and the investment chair for the trustees, reporting on their more than $80 million in investments. Previously, she has served on the boards of the Marion County Industrial Development Authority, Ocala Silver Springs Rotary, and Marion County Junior Golf. 

Rusty Branson, the CF District Board of Trustees Chair, speaks during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Allied Health Sciences Building at the College of Central Florida in Ocala on Friday, March 3, 2023. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2023.

The sole nominee for vice chair was Rusty Branson, who also was approved unanimously. Branson is serving his first term as trustee, appointed by the MCBCC in 2021.

Branson, who has lived in Marion County since 1984, has a 39-year career in banking. He co-founded Gateway Bank in 2007, where he served as president until Gateway was sold in June 2017 to CenterState Bank, which then merged with SouthState Bank in 2019. He now serves as SouthState’s senior vice president/regional president. 

Branson earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University and a master’s degree in banking from the LSU Graduate School of Banking.  

Branson serves on the boards of the United Way of Marion County, AdventHealth Ocala Foundation, AdventHealth Ocala and the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County. He has served as a member of the College of Central Florida Board of Trustees since 2015.

The MCHD board is made up of seven trustees. It was founded by the legislature in 1965 as a governmental agency formed to oversee the healthcare of Marion County residents.

The board is subject to the state’s open government, or Sunshine Laws, which means their meetings are publicly noticed, although members of the public rarely attend them. The records are public, and trustees are not to discuss district business outside of a regularly noticed meeting.

Currently, the other trustees are Rich Bianculli, Dr. Ken Marino, Dr. Ram Vasudevan, David Cope and Harvey Vandeven.

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