Jim Dunn, PhD, DHA, FACHE
At Atrium Health, Jim Dunn leads teams focused on the engagement of Atrium Health teammates – from recruitment through retirement – including workforce relations, diversity and inclusion, compensation, benefits, learning and organizational development, teammate health, LiveWELL, reward and recognition, HR communications, external affairs, community engagement and governmental affairs.
Prior to joining Atrium, Dunn served as the executive vice president and chief talent officer for Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, Texas. He’s also served as the human resources and learning executive for the Cleveland Clinic, chief learning officer for Texas Health Resources, and the chief HR Officer for the American Cancer Society and global HR and chief of staff for former President Jimmy Carter.
“I essentially grew up in HR while at the American Cancer Society,” said Dunn, who, interestingly, as a youth, never foresaw such an illustrious human resource career in the healthcare industry.
“I most definitely hadn’t anticipated doing anything outside of the pure sciences, heck I was pretty introverted and didn’t really even like people,” Dunn laughs during the interview. He purely enjoying college and studying the subject he loved.
Dunn always loved science, and particularly AP chemistry in high school. A high school crush on his teacher played a small part but he enjoyed the class so much, without knowing all the career options available, he selected the subject as his undergraduate major at Howard University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and macro-environmental science with highest honors.
Having skipped a grade in both elementary and high school, Dunn graduated at 16 years. Growing up in Chicago, he received offers to attend the University of Chicago and Northwestern. He selected Howard after his high school counselor implied attending an HBCU would be a waste of his talents. It infuriated him as he had many high school classmates, with even higher talents planning to attend HBCU’s. He applied more so out of aggravation and it ended up becoming the most important decision he could have made at such a young age.
Fresh out of college, at 20, Dunn went to work as a research scientist with the Georgia Tech Research Institute. From there, he went on to become an occupational epidemiologist with Amoco Corporation. That’s also when he obtained a Master of Public Health degree as well as completed his first doctoral degree from Emory University.
“Those degrees were aligned with my first career,” Dunn said of his extensive education. He additionally holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and two more doctoral degrees in organizational development and healthcare administration from Benedictine University and the Medical University of South Carolina, respectively.
As an emerging scholar, Dunn has served as adjunct and distinguished faculty for multiple universities including the Harvard School of Public Health, MIT Sloan School of Management, Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University, University of Chicago, Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Dallas. He is also a state registered professional mediator, specializing in workplace conflict resolution strategies, and a fellow (FACHE) and faculty member of the American College of Health Executives.
Despite the letters behind his name and accolades, for Dunn, his love for family is his greatest accomplishment. “Family comes first. I’ve intentionally never allowed my career to become the driving force of for my life…or taking myself too seriously.”
Dunn is an avid tennis fan and enjoys mentoring through several local community platforms.