Mercy Health Network today announced it has named Mary Cownie as the organization's chief of staff. 

Cownie, who announced her resignation as director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs on Aug. 7, will begin her new job with Mercy Health Network on Sept. 18. 

As chief of staff, she will provide strategic counsel and be a tactical liaison to Mercy Health Network's leadership team and other business units on a wide range of projects, issues and activities, the health network said in a release. Based in West Des Moines, the regional health network includes a number of owned and affiliated hospitals and clinics statewide, including Mercy-Des Moines. 

"We are excited to have Mary join our team," said Bob Ritz, president and CEO of Mercy Health Network. "Mary's community and statewide leadership experience uniquely positions her to strengthen Mercy Health Network's relationships statewide. Her strategic and administrative counsel will benefit our organization moving forward."

Cownie, who was director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for the past six years, is an Iowa native with a degree from the University of North Carolina. She has been involved with a number of community organizations, including the Mercy-Des Moines board of directors, the Mercy Foundation Board, Character Counts, the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, Junior Achievement of Central Iowa, and the West Des Moines Planning and Zoning Commission.