Our leadership and board of directors oversee all of the foundation’s efforts.  The committee meets regularly to ensure that all of our teams perform efficiently to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

Board of Directors

Dennis Wade


Dennis Wade is senior vice president of human resources and organizational development for Compassus. In his role, Wade is responsible for all human resources functions, including recruitment and retention, compensation and benefits, and colleague relations and development. Wade has more than 30 years of experience in human resources and a proven track record of creating colleague-centric business strategies that focus on culture, engagement and retention. Prior to Compassus, Wade served as executive vice president and chief human resources officer of Corizon Health, where he was responsible for the administration of personnel policies, programs, compensation and benefits for more than 12,000 employees in 27 states. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Wade received his bachelor’s degrees in Business and Psychology from Birmingham-Southern College.

Kurt Merkelz, MD


Kurt Merkelz, MD, was named senior vice president and chief medical officer of Compassus in 2017. He previously served as medical director for the Compassus program serving Houston, Texas. In his new role, Dr. Merkelz will lead the company’s quality and clinical initiatives, ensuring the delivery of quality patient outcomes and increased access to end-of-life care in the more than 150 communities Compassus serves across the country. Throughout his career, Dr. Merkelz has focused on caring for older adults. His perseverance in raising industry benchmarks for quality hospice care earned him the R. Sean Morrison, MD, Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hospice Physician Leadership. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center and completed residencies in family medicine and geriatric medicine at the University of Cincinnati. Following his residency at the University of Cincinnati, he became assistant director of the international health program. Dr. Merkelz is triple-board certified in hospice and palliative care medicine, family practice and geriatrics.

Synthia Cathcart


Synthia Cathcart joined Compassus as vice president of quality in 2006 and has served as senior vice president of clinical services since 2013. She has 20 years of nursing experience, including 15 years in hospice care.

Preceding her roles at Compassus, Cathcart worked for Community Hospices of America, Inc., for 12 years, serving as vice president of patient services, director of corporate education services and educational coordinator. Additionally, Cathcart spent six years working for The Hospice of Southwest Missouri, Inc., where she served as clinical educator, educational services coordinator and nursing care manager.

Cathcart earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Southwest Baptist University. She has received credentials as a registered nurse, an oncology certified nurse and, in 2011, she became a certified trainer for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium. Cathcart has also been involved in numerous professional activities during her career, including decades of experience as a developer and presenter of an eight-hour nursing education curriculum: “Pain Management in the Terminally Ill Patient.”