Dawn Carter

Founder and Senior Partner

Dawn Carter headshot

A hospital and healthcare consultant with more than 30 years of experience, Dawn Carter is a forward-thinking leader and advocate of transformational healthcare delivery. As founder and senior partner at Ascendient, Dawn specializes in helping clients envision a future outside the traditional hospital “box” – including new delivery channels, innovative organizational models, and emerging opportunities for collaboration.

Dawn’s expertise includes strategic planning, merger/acquisitions, business planning, and financial feasibility. She leverages this depth and breadth of experience along with the latest data and statistical modeling tools to provide clients with the insights and guidance they need to make sound decisions in a highly complex, highly regulated, and rapidly evolving healthcare landscape.

Since launching her practice in 1994, Dawn has served as a trusted consultant to a wide range of healthcare clients, including regional health systems, academic medical centers, community hospitals, home health agencies, hospice agencies, provider associations and physician groups. As a long-time advocate for more sustainable healthcare beyond the urban or suburban setting, in 2021 Dawn co-founded the Rural Healthcare Initiative, a social enterprise consulting collaborative with a nonprofit arm that offers free education, research, and tools to rural hospital leaders.

She is a frequent speaker at hospital and healthcare association events, including the North Carolina Healthcare Association (formerly North Carolina Hospital Association), The Duke Endowment, and the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development. Dawn earned her Master Degree of Healthcare Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has served as an adjunct assistant professor of healthcare strategic planning at her alma mater since 1999.

  • Transformation
  • Transforming Payment
  • Transforming Care Delivery
  • Transforming Primary Care
  • The Maryland Fixed Payment Model
  • Strategic Planning
  • Healthcare Industry Trends
  • Merger, Acquisition and Affiliation: Trends, Benefits and Consequences

Ascendient’s experts regularly speak to audiences of executive and Board leadership of health systems, hospitals, post-acute providers, medical groups, and health departments, as well as associations and national conferences.

  • “Outnumbered – The Future of CON,” Women in Healthcare North Carolina Chapter, Winston-Salem, NC
  • “Rural Hospital at Home: Lessons at the One-Year Mark,” New England Rural Health Association Annual Conference, Killington, VT
  • “Using a Rural Population Health Chartbook for Strategic Action,” NOSORH Regional Partnership Meeting, Chicago, IL
  • “Rural Hospital at Home: Lessons at the One-Year Mark,” NOSORH Regional Partnership Meeting, Charleston, WV
  • “Rural Emergency Hospitals” at the North Carolina Healthcare Association Winter Meeting, Feb. 16, 2023, Cary, NC
  • “Creating Guidance on Rural Emergency Hospitals” at the 2022 SC Hospital Association CFO Forum, Aug. 19, 2022, Charleston, SC
  • “Learning from the Maryland Model” at the 2021 SC Hospital Association CFO Forum, Aug. 19, 2021, Charleston, SC
  • “The Future of Rural Healthcare or Saving Rural Healthcare” at the 2021 SC Hospital Association CFO Forum, Aug. 19, 2021, Charleston, SC
  • “Healthcare M&A Predictions Take Two: Under Biden & Post-COVID-19,” Jarrard, Phillips, Cate & Hancock, March 3, 2021
  • “Clinical Reconfiguration in the Transformation Era: A Successful Case Study” SHSMD Connections 2019. Nashville, TN. September 11th, 2019
  • “Observations on Women in Healthcare Leadership.” Invited Speaker. 2018 HPM Women in Healthcare Leadership Symposium, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, January 26, 2018.
  • “CON Research and Impact Analysis.” Invited Speaker. North Carolina Hospital Association Winter Meeting, Raleigh, North Carolina, February 15, 2017.
  • “Healthytown USA: Transforming Payment and Care Delivery.” North Carolina Hospital Association Summer Meeting, Pinehurst, North Carolina, July 14, 2016.
  • “Welcome to Healthytown USA.” Webinar. North Carolina Hospital Association, December 3, 2015.
  • “A Statistical Analysis of Arguments For/Against Certificate of Need.” Carolinas Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development Fall Conference, Asheville, North Carolina, December 8, 2011.
  • “Forging the Future: What Makes Strong Small and Rural Hospitals?” Invited Speaker. The Duke Endowment Small & Rural Hospital Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 9, 2010.