The Petaluma Health Care District board didn't take long to identify Ramona Faith its top candidate for CEO, but it took a long series of negotiations to get her hired.

"We became interested in her because she is well-known in the community, cares about it and understands the value of Petaluma Valley Hospital," said Fran Adams, who, along with Kathryn Powell comprised the board's ad hoc candidate selection subcommittee. "Also, she has a strong background as an administrator and has worked with St. Joseph Health System."

"She's from a multi-generational family in the Petaluma area, and knows the medical community, its employees and the community as a whole," added Daymon Doss, who she will be succeeding in the role. "As CEO, it takes a long time to get to know everybody you'll be working with, but she knows most people already.

"For one thing, the vast majority of physicians now at the hospital were there when Ramona was serving it as an administrator."

She currently is serving as the executive director of patient care services at Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa, and will take over as the PHCD's chief on April 1, replacing Doss, who will begin serving as the part-time CEO of the Northern California Health Care Authority.

"Ramona presented a contract to the board at its meeting on Feb. 23," said Doss, 63, adding that the hire was unanimously approved by the board.

Faith, 55, will be paid a base salary of $170,000 — the top amount that the district planned to pay — and manage a $3 million annual budget.

Negotiations over her contract with PHCD took several weeks, because of salary issues and another job offer that Faith was considering.

"The community is one reason I chose to work here — it has served my family for five generations," she said. "I was born at Petaluma General Hospital and served as a Candy Striper volunteer at Hillcrest Hospital. It feels good to say that I'm back.

"Also, I like the fact that the health-care district has a long-standing commitment to help the residents of the community. It's exciting to me to now lead its mission."

Faith grew up in Tomales, but says that her family has long been strongly tied to Petaluma.

"Petaluma became my community when I was growing up. It was where I went to the grocery store, and took ballet lessons," she said.

Faith graduated from Tomales High School in 1972 and went on to receive a bachelor's degree from California State University, Chico in 1977 and a master's degree in nursing leadership from Sonoma State University.

Her experiences as a Candy Striper volunteer helped motivate her to eventually become a nurse.

After receiving her bachelor's degree, she lived in Concord for 11 years, and began her professional career by caring for oncology patients at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where she later managed patient care units.

She moved to Petaluma in 1989 and the following year, began serving as a part-time administrative coordinator at Petaluma Valley Hospital. In 2002, she was promoted to vice president and chief nursing officer.

Faith later began serving in her leadership role at Queen of the Valley, as well as working as a health-care consultant.

She also has served as a faculty member at Santa Rosa Junior College, SSU and Dominican University in San Rafael, teaching nursing clinical rotations and nursing leadership and management courses to undergraduate nursing students.

Her husband, Bob Faith, is self-employed in sales and marketing, and they have four children and one grandson.

When she's not busy working, she enjoys spending time with her family and gardening.

(Contact Dan Johnson at dan.johnson@arguscourier.com)