Hospital CEOs are expected to do a good job running their hospitals. They are also expected to be leaders in their community. How well do we carry out those ancillary roles?
Several months ago, Ian Bowles, then heading MassINC and now a cabinet secretary in the new Deval Patrick administration, wrote an editorial pointing out that leaders of the non-profit sector in Boston, and the health care sector in particular, had a civic duty to become more engaged in public policy issues and other community activities. Ian echoed a theme that had been expressed earlier by Curtis Johnston and Neil Pierce, writing for the Boston Foundation.
They noted that the non-profits are now the largest corporations in Boston and, therefore they had to take on more of this mantle, which previously had resided with banks, insurance companies, and large manufacturers (many of which have since merged with national companies and moved their corporate headquarters elsewhere.)
I think Ian, Curtis, and Neil are right, but I think they neglected to mention that many hospital folks were already doing what they were suggesting. Here are some representative examples -- this is the butt-kissing part!
- Jim Mongan, President and CEO of Partners Healthcare System, served as chairman of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; has served on the board of the Kaiser Family Foundation; and was arguably one of the most important participants in the development of the recent health care reform legislation in MA.
- Gary Gottlieb, President of Brigham and Women's Hospital, co-chaired Mayor Menino's Task Force to Eliminate Ethnic and Racial Health Disparities, as well as working on a variety of other assignments for the City.
- Mike Jellinek, President of Newton-Wellesley Hospital, chaired a citizen's commission for the Mayor of Newton on the future of that city's high school.
- Ellen Zane, President and CEO, of Tufts-New England Medical Center, has been a director of Fiduciary Trust Company and a director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
- Elaine Ullian, President and CEO of Boston Medical Center has served as chair of Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals and on the boards of Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and Citizens Bank of Massachusetts.
That being said, these articles actually caused me to rethink my level of civic involvement and expand it. Fortunately, our hospital was also through its financial turn-around, so I had more time to engage in such things. So here is a list of my extracurricular activities, most of them new in the last two or three years: This is the self-serving part!
- Board member of the MIT Corporation, the Institute's governing body.
- Board member of the Celebrity Series, the largest local performing arts organization.
- Board member of A Better City, a business group advocating for enhanced city transportation, parks, and other quality-of-life development.
- Board member of ISO-New England, the regional electricity transmission organization.
- Chair of a citizens' commission reviewing the city budget for the Mayor and Aldermen of Newton.
For all of us, these activities are personally rewarding and informative. I know that I take no risk in saying on behalf of my colleagues that, to the extent we can contribute to the overall advancement of our city and region, we are grateful for the opportunity to be of service.