Dawn Carter

Founder and Senior Partner

UNC Chapel Hill

Master of Healthcare Administration

As a leading thinker in transformational healthcare delivery, Dawn specializes in helping clients envision a future outside the traditional hospital “box,” including new delivery channels, organizational models, and opportunities for collaboration. In addition to the latest data and modeling tools, her forward-thinking practice is solidly rooted in 30 years of healthcare consulting, marketing, planning and market research.

Dawn has deep experience in strategic planning, mergers & acquisitions, business planning, and financial feasibility. She also assists healthcare organizations with strategizing and preparing Certificate of Need applications and serves as an expert witness in CON litigation. She has worked in both the hospital setting and as a consultant to a wide variety of healthcare clients, including academic medical centers and community hospitals, home health agencies, hospice agencies, provider associations and physician groups.

Day to day at Ascendient, Dawn's time is spent managing the firm, overseeing business development, and working directly on client engagements. After decades in the business, she is still driven to help health systems deliver more effective, efficient care.

Dawn constantly uses her voice and her platform to advocate for healthcare transformation, urging leaders to stop defaulting to "the way it's always been done" and instead work for a system that delivers the right care, by the right provider, at the right time, in the right setting.

As a long-time advocate for more sustainable healthcare beyond our cities and suburbs, 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.

Dawn is the proud mother of a 10-year-old boy and 1-year-old Lagotto. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for her 40th birthday – a kind of tribute to her grandparents, who spent 40 years in Africa. If the job allowed for telecommuting, she would live part of the year in Tanzania, but until that happens, she tries to spend as much free time as possible at the pool, on the beach, or on a sailboat.

Dawn is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Life is a journey, not a destination."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Speaking Topics

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

Speaking Events

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  • “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,” North Carolina Healthcare Association Winter Meeting
  • “Creating Guidance on Rural Emergency Hospitals,” 2022 SC Hospital Association CFO Forum, Charleston, SC
  • “Learning from the Maryland Model,” 2021 SC Hospital Association CFO Forum, Charleston, SC
  • “The Future of Rural Healthcare or Saving Rural Healthcare,” 2021 SC Hospital Association CFO Forum, Charleston, SC
  • “Healthcare M&A Predictions Take Two: Under Biden & Post-COVID-19,” Jarrard, Phillips, Cate & Hancock
  • “Clinical Reconfiguration in the Transformation Era: A Successful Case Study,” SHSMD Connections, Nashville, TN
  • “Observations on Women in Healthcare Leadership,” 2018 HPM Women in Healthcare Leadership Symposium, UNC Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC
  • “CON Research and Impact Analysis,” NC Hospital Association Winter Meeting, Raleigh, NC
  • “Healthytown USA: Transforming Payment and Care Delivery,” NC Hospital Association Summer Meeting, Pinehurst, NC
  • “Welcome to Healthytown USA,” NC Hospital Association, webinar
  • “A Statistical Analysis of Arguments For/Against Certificate of Need,” Carolinas Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development Fall Conference, Asheville, NC
  • “Forging the Future: What Makes Strong Small and Rural Hospitals?” The Duke Endowment Small & Rural Hospital Conference, Charlotte, NC