Monica Vargas-Mahar 

Market CEO, Carondelet Health Network

By Tiffany Kjos

The market CEO of Carondelet Health Network has been in Tucson just two years but has already developed deep ties here.

Monica Vargas-Mahar currently serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and is chair-elect for the annual campaign. She’s on the Southern Arizona board of directors for the American Heart Association, and she recently became a member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

“Community engagement and partnering with area nonprofits is something that I’ve done all my career,” said Vargas-Mahar, who has worked 22 years with Carondelet’s parent organization, Tenet Healthcare Corp., most recently in her hometown of El Paso, Tex.

“She’s one of the only Latinas in a position with that much authority in our region. She comes with years of experience in the El Paso market, which is similar to the Tucson market, so I think she’s a perfect fit for our community,” said Lea Márquez Peterson, chair of the Carondelet board when Mahar came to Tucson. She remains a board member.

“I’m so proud of the opportunities I’ve been given and I sit here because of an incredible team that has supported me,” Vargas-Mahar said. 

Carondelet’s workforce numbers 2,200. One thing Vargas-Mahar most enjoys is engaging with team members. On a recent weekday, she eschewed her usual business attire for scrubs to complete night rounds with the staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital, where she has her office. 

“It’s just lovely to hear and talk to people about why they serve,” she said. “I think all of us that are called to this work have a passion to serve.”

Vargas-Mahar provides strategic and operational leadership for St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s Hospital, and Holy Cross Hospital in addition to Marana Hospital and Carondelet’s newest site, the St. Raphael Emergency Center. She recently completed her term as chair for The National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives, which she has been involved with for a decade.

She joined Carondelet, which has a 143-year history, during a critical time as the healthcare industry emerged from COVID-19. She has previously led efforts to expand hospital capacity, start new bariatric surgery programs and comprehensive stroke certification as well as advance trauma level status.

Married 12 years to Keith Mahar, she has two stepchildren, two nephews, three Standard poodles and a new apricot Royal poodle named Lucy. 

Vargas-Mahar earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount University and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Trinity University. “I value the opportunity we have as leaders to support the community. That’s critically important for me.”

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