Two executives join University Hospital

Dawn Furnas//January 5, 2023//

Two executives join University Hospital

Dawn Furnas//January 5, 2023//

Listen to this article

University Hospital continues to strengthen its leadership team with the appointment of two new executives. 

The Newark hospital announced Jan. 5 it named Maria Brennan as chief nursing officer and McKenzie Wilson as chief legal officer and corporate secretary. 

The appointments follow the Dec. 22 announcement of Ed Jimenez as incoming president and CEO, succeeding Shereef Elnahal, who was named undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for Health in July. 

“We are pleased to welcome these seasoned professionals to the executive leadership team at University Hospital,” interim President and CEO Mary Maples said in a statement. “We look forward to Maria and McKenzie sharing their fresh ideas and enthusiasm as we continue to pursue our mission to deliver exceptional care to every patient, every time.” 

Maples also thanked Nicole Sardinas and Tracy Forsyth, who had been serving as interim chief nursing officer and interim chief legal officer, respectively.

Maria Brennan, University Hospital chief nursing officer.

Previously, Brennan was a health care consultant for several New Jersey and New York hospital systems and nursing agencies, and was vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer for Lourdes Health System in Camden. 

She also served as chief nursing officer of St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, as a past president of the Organization of Nurse Leaders of New Jersey (ONLNJ), and was the recipient of the 2008 Governor’s Award in Nursing Administration and the 2007 Nurse Executive Award from the ONLNJ. 

Brennan – who said she looks forward to being a part of the hospital’s “bright future” – earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Pace University, a master’s in nursing from Hunter College, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice from William Paterson University.  

McKenzie Wilson, University Hospital chief legal officer and corporate secretary

Wilson joins University Hospital from Roseland-based Lowenstein Sandler LLP, where she handled litigation, counseling and administrative matters as part of the firm’s White Collar Criminal Defense group, according to University Hospital. While there, she worked with health care providers and others in state investigations and federal and state regulatory actions. She also worked closely with the New Jersey departments of Health, Human Services, and Banking and Insurance, as well as the Office of the Attorney General. 

Wilson served as deputy chief counsel in the Office of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, where she and her team of attorneys focused on issues such as Medicaid reforms, consumer protections and rental assistance programs.  

Additionally, she was a key player in Murphy’s COVID-19 strategies, including creating Executive Orders relating to reopenings, health and safety requirements, worker protections, school operations, hospital and health resource management, and fund transparency.  

“I am honored to extend my public service in support of University Hospital. As we have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, I have gained a unique perspective and a sincere appreciation for the role healthcare plays in our state,” Wilson said. 

Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from The George Washington University and a J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law.