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AAC Announces New CEO; Cartwright to Remain Board Chairman

January 17, 2020

AAC Holdings this week announced that founder Michael Cartwright is stepping down as CEO, and chief financial officer Andrew McWilliams is being promoted in his place, effective Jan. 24. Cartwright, who has served as CEO and board chairman since 2011, will continue in the latter role, focusing on strategic planning and partnerships, AAC said in a news release.

McWilliams, who joined AAC in 2014 as chief accounting officer, has served as CFO since 2018. He has been credited with leading recent efforts to cut AAC’s operating expenses as part of a strategy to improve the company’s financials. AAC reported in November that its operating expenses for the most recent fiscal quarter decreased 12% from the previous quarter to $61.1 million. AAC also reported a slight increase in admissions for the quarter.

In an email to BHE, McWilliams said his primary focus as CEO will be on leading AAC’s efforts to “set a standard for clinical excellence” in the behavioral healthcare industry.

“That’s why one of my top priorities will be empowering our medical staff with the most advanced technology and resources to provide exceptional care to our patients,” he said. “Investing in our employees is also top on my list. One of our key initiatives is building a staff consisting of at least 25% percent veterans to help us care for our nation’s heroes.

“I will also continue to work with our financial partners to ensure AAC’s continued growth and success for years to come. AAC already has a strong foundation with a mission-driven team. As CEO, I will build on that legacy to take the company to the next level.” 

In May, McWilliams joined Cartwright in a call with investors to walk through a new 10-year strategic plan that included a series of digitally focused initiatives to reposition the company as tech firms such as Google and Amazon increase their presence in the behavioral health space.

The transition in leadership continues a stretch of significant changes for AAC:

  • In June, AAC president and COO Michael Nanko announced his resignation.
  • In October, four board members resigned. They were replaced later in the month by three new board members.
  • Also in October, AAC was delisted by the New York Stock Exchange for failing to maintain a $15 million market cap over 30 days of trading. The company said in November that it was working to finalize a deal to be listed on another exchange. An AAC spokesperson said in an email to BHE on Friday that the company is still reviewing its options.
  • After AAC defaulted on a $30 million high interest loan earlier in the year, the company reached a forbearance agreement for the loan in November, which runs through the end of March and gives AAC an additional $5 million in funding from its lender, according to a Nashville Business Journal report
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