Corporate Leadership

A leadership team experienced in healthcare and work comp management 


Chuck Kruger

Chief Executive Officer

Chuck has over 25 years of experience starting and leading rapidly growing private equity backed healthcare services companies.  He is passionate about building and energizing teams, providing world class levels of customer service, and achieving operational and financial excellence.


Immediately prior to joining Akeso Chuck was the President of TrialRunners, a clinical research organization (CRO) which has managed over 70 ophthalmic clinical trials involving over 10,000 patients across 19 countries.  Prior to TrialRunners Chuck was the President of Dignity Health GoHealth Urgent Care, which he launched in 2016 and rapidly grew into the largest urgent care provider in San Francisco.  Prior to GoHealth Chuck was the Vice President of Business Development and Operations for Physical Rehabilitation Network (PRN).  During his 10 years with PRN he led an aggressive acquisition and denovo initiative, adding and integrating over 125 new outpatient physical therapy clinics in 11 states.


Chuck began his career in investment banking and private equity before his first entrepreneurial venture as the co-founder of a startup which become one of the largest privately held medical products distributors in the country.  Chuck holds degrees in both Human Biology and Economics from Stanford University. 

Daniel Pencak

Chief Financial Officer

Danny has over 18 years of multi-faceted financial leadership in accounting, finance, and infrastructure development. Before joining Akeso Medical as the Chief Financial Officer, he was most recently the Chief Financial Officer of a Management Services Organization leading the accounting, finance, and strategic functions of an integrated multidisciplinary group of medical clinics and ambulatory surgery centers. He was responsible for the restructuring and infrastructure buildout growing the organization to over 30 locations through both acquisitions and organic growth. 


Previously, Danny served as the Senior Vice President of Finance for one of the country’s largest specialty diagnostic laboratories. He was instrumental in building the finance, accounting, and operational functions that raised over $2 billion in capital. Prior to his time in the laboratory space, Danny was a Director with KPMG, LLP on the Healthcare Transaction Services team, primarily advising private equity clients on both sell-side and buy-side transactions. With target acquisitions ranging from $10 million to $2 billion, Danny assisted clients on more than $10 billion in executed transactions.  Preceding his advisory experience, Danny worked in public accounting with Katz, Sapper, and Miller in Indianapolis where he earned his Certified Public Accountant license before earning the same in California.


Danny received a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Finance and Accounting from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. He also studied Economics of European Integration and Intercultural Communication at the University of Maastricht. He currently sits on the board of directors of several non-for-profit organizations including Boys and Girls Club of Vista and La Costa 35 Athletic Club.

Shankar Rao

Chief Information Officer

Shankar Rao has provided technology oversight at leading healthcare companies for over 30 years. His experience in healthcare technology has been diverse from providers to payors to product companies and from start-up to Fortune 100 companies in a variety of roles. 


Most recently, he completed 13 years at UnitedHealth Group/Optum in a variety of technology leadership positions, including divisional Chief Information Officer, Health Information Exchange business unit General Manager and Vice President, SaaS product development and  delivery.


Shankar received a Bachelor of Technology from the University of Madras, India and an MBA from Peter F. Drucker School of Management, Claremont, California.

Hannah Nguyen

Senior Vice President of Operations

Hannah brings over 20 years of healthcare operations leadership experience to our team.  Before joining Akeso, she was most recently the Vice President of Operations for Concentra Urgent Care in the Pacific Region, responsible for the day-to-day operations of over 100+ clinics in California and Hawaii.  In this role Hannah successfully lead the operational efforts in transitioning and integrating the centers in California when Concentra acquired U.S. HealthWorks while leading her team in executing key strategic initiatives using a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach and leveraging employee engagement.


Hannah began her career in occupational medicine when she joined U.S. HealthWorks in 2007, beginning as a Center Manager/Training Manager before progressing to Regional Director of Operations and then Regional Vice President of Operations in the West Region.  Passionate about providing the best possible care to patients while improving the overall patient experience and clinical outcomes, Hannah is responsible for the daily operations of all Akeso clinics.


Hannah received her Doctorate in Chiropractic from Southern California University of Health Sciences and her Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from Chapman University.

Michael Byer, MD

Vice President

Dr. Michael Byer has enjoyed a nearly 30 year career in medicine, with over 25 years of experience in Occupational Medicine for several large practices.


Before joining Akeso, he was an owner operator at Coastal Occupational Medical Group in Oxnard California and has served as a staff physician for US Healthworks in Commerce, prior to taking over as the medical director for the US Healthworks in Oxnard, California.


Dr. Byer earned his Bachelors Degree from California State University of Northridge and his Medical Degree from Drexel University College of Medicine

Ronald Crowell, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Ronald  Crowell, M.D. was one of the first 20 physicians to complete residency (specialty) training in the new specialty of Emergency Medicine.  He was an early leader in this field serving in multiple leadership positions in the American College of Emergency Physicians and its California chapter.


He was also an early leader in the development of Emergency Medical Services in California.  He was the Director of the Paramedic Training Institute for Los Angeles County for six years, the largest training program in the country.  During that time he helped develop training, certification and re-certification standards for paramedics and he served as the senior medical person in the LA Local EMS Agency.  He also established working relationships with the LA Affiliate of the American Heart Association and the LA Pediatric Society to develop and publish the first prehospital care standards in these respective fields.  As Chairman of the newly established California State Commission on Emergency Medical Services, he had enormous impact on the evolution of State policies and standards.


Dr. Crowell was a practicing emergency physician.  In addition to undertaking the activities noted above, he headed a group of physicians that contracted with hospitals to provide emergency services.  He was board certified in Emergency Medicine from the time they were first offered (1980) and continues to be certified despite retiring from Emergency Medicine in 1998.  Since 1987, Dr. Crowell has owned and operated HealthFirst Medical Group, a large occupational medicine (Workers Compensation) practice, with two offices in Santa Fe Springs, CA.  He established one of the first electronic medical records for a Workers Compensation practice, and HealthFirst has been considered as one of the best practices in California.


Dr. Crowell founded an emergency medicine symposium in 1975 held every January in Yosemite National Park.  He continues to oversee this unique event.

Jessica Villarreal, LVN

Workers' Comp Program Manager

As Akeso’s Workers' Comp Program Manager, Jessica is responsible for streamlining RFA and Referral processes to improve turnaround time and communications with providers, patients, employers, and insurance companies. She also works with local ancillary facilities to develop partnerships to keep medical treatment on track as well as mediating peer-to-peer treatment plan reviews with Akeso providers, claims examiners, risk managers, and employers to assist in positive RFA outcomes.


Prior to joining Akeso, Jessica was the Utilization Review Supervisor at MEDEX, where she streamlined processes for improving review time, created standard operating procedures to ensure URAC compliance, incorporated new California work comp labor laws/statues and worked with the Medical Director and legal counsel to review legislative changes. Prior to that, she was a Telephonic Nurse Case Manager at MEDEX, managing on average the care of over 65 high-profile/complicated patients such as psych and litigated cases.


Jessica received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She worked for a major Southern California bank and the Westfield Corp. until shifting her career to nursing in 2013, graduating from the American Career College of Nursing. She spent the next four years working as a Licensed Vocational Nurse with rotations in ER, ICU, Telemetry, wound care, and geriatric care.