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DiPaula Resigns as Head of UMMS Board

James C. “Chip” DiPaula Jr. resigned Wednesday as chair of the University of Maryland Medical System Board of Directors. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

James C. “Chip” DiPaula Jr., the chair of the University of Maryland Medical System Board of Directors, announced Wednesday that he is resigning from the board, effective immediately.

In a letter to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), who appoints most of the UMMS board members, DiPaula said that he was resigning because he had “made the decision to permanently change my residency to another state.”

Late last month, Hogan nominated Dori Bishop Kelso to serve on the UMMS board, but it wasn’t clear at the time who she was designated to replace. The Senate Executive Nominations Committee is expected to hear Bishop Kelso’s nomination at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday. She runs a building contracting firm and is the wife of Thomas Kelso, who was Hogan’s campaign chair and serves as the governor’s designated chair on the Maryland Stadium Authority.

DiPaula, who served with Hogan during the administration of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), became the board’s leader in 2019, as the medical system was reeling from a series of self-dealing scandals involving former Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D) and other board members.

“Serving UMMS has been one of the great privileges of my career,” DiPaula wrote to Hogan. “Since 2019, with your support, we have overseen crucial and comprehensive governance, management, and operations reforms, adopted extensive new structural governance reforms, 17 board policies, revitalized board committee charters, and led a successful national search for a new Chief Executive.”

DiPaula also paid tribute to medical professionals who sustained the system during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“During my time with UMMS, I have been humbled and privileged to witness our nurses, doctors and other public health professionals overcome enormous challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic to bravely deliver exceptional care to our communities,” he said.

But DiPaula said it was the pandemic that opened new professional possibilities for him, prompting his decision to move out of state.

DiPaula, who served as Ehrlich’s chief of staff and later as his budget secretary, is co-founder of Flywheel Digital, an eCommerce advertising company. The Baltimore-based firm was acquired by a British marketing company three years ago. Last month, the company was sued by a competitor, Compass Marketing, in U.S. District Court. The complaint alleges that Flywheel unfairly profited from knowledge that DiPaula and others picked up while working for Compass. Flywheel’s response to the claims are not due to the court until April.

“Like many during the course of the pandemic, I have worked from a variety of locations and made the decision to permanently change my residency to another state,” DiPaula wrote. “As such, Maryland is no longer my primary domicile. Further, I have taken an expanded role at my company which requires extensive travel to manage 10 global businesses.”

In a statement, Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of UMMS, paid tribute to DiPaula.

“For the past three years, Chip’s steadfast leadership has helped guide UMMS through challenging times and unprecedented healthcare emergencies,” Suntha said. “We will be forever grateful for his integrity, dedication and his incredible willingness to selflessly share his professional abilities and wisdom with our organization.”

UMMS Board Vice Chair Alexander Williams Jr. will serve as interim board chair until the board can elect a permanent replacement for DiPaula in May. Williams is a retired federal judge and former Prince George’s County state’s attorney who has been a vital utility player for Hogan, serving in a variety of high-profile appointed rules.

Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report. 

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DiPaula Resigns as Head of UMMS Board