CLAREMONT — Valley Regional Healthcare announced Tuesday that former Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center executive Deanna Howard will step in as the interim Valley Regional CEO.

The Claremont hospital is in the process of searching for the replacement for Peter Wright, the outgoing CEO who is taking a job in Maine, which starts in March.

Howard was most recently the vice president of regional development for Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and she currently works as a health care consultant.

“I’m very excited about providing interim leadership services at Valley,” Howard said. “I have worked with Valley Regional Healthcare staff during my employment with Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and served on the Valley Board of Trustees for several years. This is an exciting time at Valley Regional, and I look forward to joining the team.”

Howard is also the past chairman of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, and is a current member of the board of trustees of Mt. Ascutney Hospital, Crotched Mountain Foundation, and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. She is the former chief executive officer of Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital in Colebrook.

Howard will work with Wright as he prepares to leave next month.

“(Howard) has the experience and wealth of knowledge the board was looking for in choosing the right interim president and CEO, and she will execute a smooth leadership transition at Valley Regional Healthcare,” said Patti Putnam, chairman of Valley Regional Board of Trustees.

The search for the permanent president and CEO is underway.