New trustees bring wealth of experiences to DMU

Anthony Coleman, Des Moines University Board of Trustees
Anthony Coleman, D.H.A., M.H.A.

The two newest members of the DMU Board of Trustees bring to their roles diverse experiences accumulated on land, in the sky, at sea and in service to their country. Anthony Coleman, D.H.A., M.H.A., president and chief executive officer of Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, and Stephen Richards, R.H.A., D.O.’74, a longtime primary care physician in Iowa, attended their first board meeting on campus in September.

Dr. Coleman began his role at Broadlawns in December 2021 after serving as vice president of operations support for Kaiser Permanente’s largest and fastest growing service area, in San Bernadino, CA. His prior leadership experience includes health care administration roles as a naval officer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer during his 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy.

Stephen Richards, R.H.A., D.O.’74

Dr. Richards practiced more than three decades in family medicine and is now the medical director for Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Co., an Iowa-based company that operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. After graduating from DMU, he served two years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a flight surgeon and then 18 years in the Iowa Air National Guard. He retired from the Air Guard in 2004 after serving his last three years as a state air surgeon at Camp Dodge in Johnston, IA, at the rank of colonel.

The two new trustees share another connection: Dr. Richards was the first D.O. to complete a family practice residency at Broadlawns, the public hospital that Dr. Coleman now leads, and he started a family practice in Algona, IA, with another Broadlawns graduate.

“Family medicine is near and dear to my heart,” Dr. Richards says.

Anthony Coleman, D.H.A., M.H.A.

Born and raised in Southern California, Anthony Coleman was motivated to enlist in the U.S. Navy in part because of his mother. The youngest of three children, he’d observed her helping his older siblings on their paths.

“When I graduated from high school, my mom was within two years of retirement. I thought if I got into the Navy, I could get the GI Bill,” he says.

That launched an impressive naval career: After completing two full sea tours, he was commissioned as a naval officer and then served in various roles of increasing responsibility, including as department head, medical administrative officer onboard the USS Harry S. Truman and chief financial officer and executive board member at Naval Hospital Beaufort, SC. Highlights of his 20-year military career also include earning the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist designation, Surface Warfare Medical Department Officer qualification and the Executive Medicine additional qualifying designation. He received a Secretary of Defense appointment to serve as a United States Senate Youth Program Military Mentor and served as treasurer of the National Association of Health Services Executives, a nonprofit organization that promotes the advancement and development of African American health care leaders and seeks to elevate the quality of health care services in minority and underserved communities.

While pursuing his master of health administration degree and doctorate in health administration and policy at the Medical University of South Carolina, Dr. Coleman worked in a rural hospital, where he discovered his passion for eliminating health disparities among vulnerable populations.

“I learned that reducing health inequities is a three-phase process. First, it requires being near people who are closest to the pain and the problems. I can’t sit in an office in Beverly Hills and truly, truly understand what’s happening in south central LA,” he says. “After you determine the reasons for the problems, you develop strategies to fix them in concert with other organizations and partnerships with government. That may take a couple of tries to figure out what works.

“Third, it requires enacting effective legislation to ensure whatever you change, it stays in place,” he adds. “The Affordable Care Act is an example of legislation that’s continued to provide health coverage to millions of Americans.”

As vice president of operations support for Kaiser Permanente in San Bernardino, CA, Dr. Coleman oversaw multiple departments in two medical centers with 636 licensed beds, 16 medical office buildings and nine mental health facilities across a 65-mile geographic area, serving 653,000 covered individuals. He was drawn to his role at Broadlawns to continue promoting better access to high-quality health care for all people.

“When this role came up, I saw it as an opportunity to apply the very acute lessons I’d learned about health equity,” he says. “At Broadlawns, we take care of everyone regardless of their ability to pay. We tailor our care to respond to individuals’ socio-economic drivers. That aligns with my passions.”

Stephen Richards, R.H.A., D.O.’74

The DMU alumnus grew up in the Des Moines drugstore operated by his parents, Dwane and Helen, and always wanted to become a physician. As a “steppingstone” to his goal, he earned his pharmacy degree at Drake University, where he met his wife, Janice, also a Drake pharmacy graduate. He enrolled in the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, now DMU, when it was located in downtown Des Moines; by his second year, the campus had moved to its current location on Grand Avenue.

“That was so much better than the downtown location, it felt like a palace,” he recalls.

In exchange for the scholarship he received from the U.S. Air Force for medical school, Dr. Richards completed an internship at Scott Air Force Base and then served two years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force. He was proud to follow the footsteps of his father, a World War II veteran of the Red Bull Division, the longest-serving unit in the war’s theater of operations. He also was grateful for training and experiences he gained, including as a flight surgeon for the 349th SRS, a U-2 squadron.

“I was able to travel to places I otherwise never would have gone to,” he says.

Dr. Richards went on to build a successful family medicine practice in Algona, IA, while serving in the Iowa Air National Guard and being active in his profession. He is a past president of both the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians and the Iowa Medical Society. He served on the Advocacy Commission of the American Academy of Family Physicians, has been a delegate to the American Medical Association and, beginning in 1979, was annually board-certified and re-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

Dr. Richards is excited about DMU’s new campus in West Des Moines, where the University is on track to open in 2023. He and Janice recently made a gift to DMU’s Purple & Proud Campaign to name the Richards Learning Studio in the Edge of Advancement Building on the new campus.

“Having been a student who moved from an antiquated facility downtown to the Grand Avenue campus, I experienced that stepping-up,” he says. “Now the current campus is outgrowing its space. The time had come to make the decision – to be stagnant or take the opportunity to make the University even greater. I think it’s a very positive development.”

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